Welcome to the World and Music of Dan Roark

Welcome to the world and music of Dan Roark. I have lived here for a while now and it's not a bad place to live, really. Although on some level, it's probably just as well you're only visiting. But hang around as long as you like.

Here you can listen to my songs - and buy them if you wish - read my thoughts in posts on my blog, see my pictures, and find out when and where I am playing. 

You can also hear live versions of my songs on Reverbnation, as well as see videos of live performances. You can also see my videos on, and subscribe to, my YouTube channel


Digital Tip Jar

Hello Out There 

Dan at CUMC 3At my one man show at Christ UMC a couple of weeks ago, I played my newest song, Hello Out There, for the first time in public. Introducing the song, I explained that there were various members of church families that were on the autistic spectrum. I was not personally familiar with autism untill a few years ago. I noticed the symptoms in a few of the children, but did not know it was autism.

A college student at church was helping with the Autism center at UNT in Denton and facilitated a program at church with a director of an autism program who had autistic children. After that I began to realize how varied the autism spectrum is. If you do not know, the autistic spectrum stretches from those who are highly functioning to those who are low functioning. Those who are highly functioning need steady, but only slight, intervention by others. Those who are low functioning, on the other hand, need almost constant attention.

I have witnessed incidents at church over the years with some of the children. A few days after one particularly violent episode, I had a conversation with the child’s father. I asked him how the child was and he told me that he wished he could get inside the child’s head to know what the child was thinking. I kept thinking about that because, as a songwriter and author, that’s what I do – think about things.

I do not have any insight into an autistic person’s state of mind. But, having stuttered all my life, I know what it’s like to live in one’s own head. And that’s what led me to write the song, Hello Out There. It can be found here.

Peace be with you.






Thoughts on Entering a Lyric Contest 

20131103_132007I recently joined the Board of the Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) after having been a member for several years. I am now the Lyric Contest Director, as well as helping out in other areas. I was given the entries to the recently completed contest (it is run quarterly). My job is to read all the lyrics and pass along to another member of the board the songs I think are worthy to be considered in the final judging. After reading the lyric contest entries, I have a few thoughts to pass along to those planning to enter a lyric/songwriting contest.

If you are just writing lyrics, find someone to write or play the melody. Make sure that it is a song, not just a poem. Granted, sometimes the line between the two is blurred. But even in those instances, one can tell the difference between a poem and song. Read it out loud.

If it sounds good to you, then have a few other people read your song. It is your choice to accept or reject suggestions or criticism. But if more than one person says the same thing, it would be prudent to follow their advice. If you read your song out loud and it sounds “sing-song-y,” you might want to work on it a little more.

At the very least – and I mean the very least – read your song several times before you submit your entry. Use spell checker and check the grammar. When I’m reading the song entries, I can forgive a misspelled word or single grammatical error. But if you misspell the same word in the chorus each time you type out the chorus, the song instantly goes in the rejection pile. It’s the same with the gramatical errors. If you are using slang purposely, or  are misspelling words to imitate an accent, use quotation marks. But make sure  it fits the song.

If you are going to take the time, make the effort, and spend the money, you might as well make it worth it. Present yourself and your song in as professional a manner as possible. A song should fit on one page, maybe one and a half. Certainly not more than two pages. You do not need to type out the chorus each time it occurs, if it is the same each time. Using 12 pt. type is quite sufficient – anything larger is unnecessary.

The first thing you should consider before submitting an entry is whether or not you have written an actual song. I do not have time to tell you how to write a song. There is so much already written on the subject, I do not need to. If you’re in the Dallas area, you could join the DSA and attend meetings. Every major city should have a songwriting association. Keep writing and learning as you go along.

Along the journey, when you decide to submit to a lyric or songwriting contest, you need to do four things. Make sure it is actually a decent song. Present yourself and your song professionally. Read it over carefully a couple of times before sending it. And follow the entry rules  to the letter.

Peace be with you.

New Year, New Shows, and Seeing Double 

Richard Hunt

Richard Hunt

Sitting at my desk thinking about the last year and planning for the new year, I was looking forward to playing shows more often. Not to mention the upcoming music conferences. Such as the ASCAP Expo in April. Or the Songwriter Symposium hosted by the Austin Songwriters Group coming up in a couple of weeks. Which naturally caused me to relive last years symposium, in a fashion. Which led to recalling an interesting story I thought I would relate to you.

For a number of years, I have been attending the Theological School for the Laity at Perkins Theological Seminary at SMU for a weekend in early March. I took a few classes with Robert Hunt, a professor at Perkins. I have also been to other functions at Perkins and have seen and talked to Robert. He has preached in our church. He also gave a presentation at a meeting of the Religion Communicators Council of which I am a member.

Then at the symposium, I saw Robert and thought it was cool that he wrote songs as well as his theological works. I never heard his name at the symposium, but he seemed to know who I was. We are both a friendly sort of people – when we see people we give a knowing look, as if we are introducing ourselves with facial expressions. Which makes each of us seem as if we knew the other beforehand. But I had no doubt at the time that I knew him.

In October, I played a showcase at eSpiritu in Frisco. One of the other four songwriters was Robert – or so I thought. In the emails from the host, Ryan Michael Galloway, he said Richard Hunt was playing – along with Julie Jean White, myself, and Mudcat Reames. I thought he had Richard’s name wrong. When I arrived, I walked up to him and shook his hand. He said he was glad to see me again. While he was playing, his wife was standing at a table across the aisle from Cyndy and I taking pictures. I asked her if he was writing songs under the name of Richard.

“Yes, he’s a lawyer. Both of us are. And yes, he goes by Richard – his real name.”

Now I was thoroughly confused. Cyndy and I looked Richard up on the internet, since she had met Robert as well, and found our answer quickly. Julie Jean played after him. I went on after her. After my set, I walked up to him and asked if he had a brother.”

“Yes,” he said, with a smile and a nod, “a twin.”

“When I saw you at the symposium, I thought you were Robert.”

“That’s a common occurrence.” Another nod and smile.

I was just thankful I was not going stark raving bananas. Who would have thought I would meet twin brothers in basically unrelated areas of my life? I know quite a few sets of twins, but I met them together. I also know there are a lot of twins – more than you would think.

Have you ever met a set of twins, each at different times, not knowing they were twins? I would be interested to know. I don’t think I am the only one. Let us know in the comments.

Peace be with you.

P.S. This story reminded me of another story I heard years ago. Look for the next post.

Texas Nibbles or Trash or … 

Texas Nibbles It began years ago with the recipe on the Chex cereal boxes. Then everyone’s grandmother added their particular additional ingredients. It took on different identities: nibbles, trash, Texas trash, and others. Cyndy’s mom’s recipe is for Texas Nibbles. Our daughter, Jennifer, fixed several different varieties: no nuts, hot, not hot, really hot – you get the idea.

But the point is that – in any variety – the mix is addicting. It is the one thing left over that you don’t have to do anything for but grab a handful. No cutting a pie, no getting a plate dirty, no digging in the refrigerator. Just grab a handful. And it’s salty.

We give containers of mix to the family for Christmas. We also usually receive a container from Jennifer. Naturally, this year was no different. But some things have changed. We still go to my parents on Christmas. But we don’t have a big meal anymore. Mom is not able to cook and serve the meal any longer. Cyndy and I take the Thanksgiving dinner to them – just dropping off food for them and visiting a short while.

On Christmas day Mom and Dad buy snack trays and deli sandwiches. Cyndy, Conner, Cameron, J.D. and myself – often in more than one car – meet Jennifer, her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Kelley, at the grandparents house. This year, Chris’ daughter, Katherine, was able to join us. Rather than have the meal (usually brunch), we go straight to the gift exchange.

Then we all get our stockings from the grandparents, snack a while, and visit. Visiting is the most important part. It is the part that does not and should not change. The people may change slightly from year to year due to life’s circumstances. But the family fellowship does not change.

Our family is one that gets what they need throughout the year. We give gifts to each other all year. Christmas is not about the gifts. It is about celebrating Christ’s birth. And it is also about family – in all it’s facets.

But the one constant between Christmas and New Year’s in our family is the presence of Texas Nibbles. The mix goes quickly around Christmas and then slows down to a steady rate of consumption. The salty after the sweet. Just grab a little and go kind of thing.

I don’t know what Cyndy and I will be watching tonight while waiting on midnight. But I can tell you what we won’t be watching – the countdowns to midnight. I can, however, tell you one thing for certain. We will be eating Texas Nibbles from the bag I have stashed.

Happy New Year! Peace be with you!

Out of the Mouths of Babes at Christmas 

Rashad and Kaleigh Okay, maybe not babes exactly, but children nonetheless. The girl, Kaleigh, is my friend’s daughter. The boy, Rashad, is Kaleigh’s nephew. I took the picture when Cyndy and I were watching Kaleigh and Rashad for Randy and Kelly. Rashad is now about five or six. Randy came by today and had Rashad with him. He just dropped by to pick up Disc Golf brochures, so he ran in without Rashad.

When he was leaving, Randy asked me to come out to the car so Rashad would know who I was. Randy had asked him on the way over if he remembered me, and Rashad wasn’t exactly sure. He’s been over quite a few times since the picture was taken, by the way. When we reached the car, Randy knocked on the window and Rashad popped his head up and saw me. He squealed, then jumped in the back seat and kept squealing at me and grinning.

“Now he remembers who you are,” Randy said, laughing.

I said goodbye and went back in the house. Not long after the phone rang. I assume Randy was going Dennis to Valwood to Josey, because of the number of churches within the two blocks of Valwood. Either way, I answered the phone.

“You should hear Rashad,” Randy said. “The things that kids say. Rashad would say, wow, look at that cross. Look at that church. There sure are a lot of churches.”

“Look at that church!”

“Do you like church and churches?” Randy asked.


“What do you like most about church?”

“There’s a lot of Jesus stuff in church. And Jesus is my Lord!”

That is when the true spirit of Christmas shines through.

Peace be with you.

The Pissed Off Goose Imitating Johnny Mathis 

Dan at Angelas 12-15-'14 I played Monday night at Angela’s at the Crosswalk in downtown Plano. I had a cold for several days previous. But I felt fairly well – although not completely. While my sons, Cameron and J.D., and I were driving to Angela’s, I developed a tickle in my throat. Which is not all that uncommon. Especially if one is playing and singing all the time during the constantly changing weather of a Texas winter.

Which is when I usually get a cold – when the weather changes. Some people think I mean literally every time the weather changes. But that is not what I – or people like me – mean. We mean certain times when the weather changes. In my case, I mean when the weather changes like it has recently – hot then cold, warm then cold, hot then cold. If the temperature had gotten down to freezing or lower, I would have been screwed.

As it was, I thought I was getting off kind of easy this year – while knocking on wood and crossing my fingers. I was drinking plenty of water before my time to play and took my water with me when my time came. Unfortunately the stage area is just inside the front door and the front of the restaurant is all glass. There was a draft with people walking in and out the door.

The crowd was rather loud, so I was singing and playing louder trying to hear myself. The situation made me sweat, as the cold and the tickle were on my mind as well. But, except for the tickle, I felt fine. When we got home, the tickle faded a bit. I didn’t feel too bad when I went to bed.

When I woke up, my nose was stopped up, my mouth was dry and I had a “jaw ache.” I took some head medicine and went to church to take pictures of the troops coming to pick up the toys we had collected for soldiers’ children. If I talked too much, I sounded like a pissed off goose. So naturally, I kept on talking . All three boys still live at home, so not talking is seldom an option.

As the afternoon turned into evening, I began to sound like a pissed off goose trying to imitate Johnny Mathis. I don’t stutter as much as I used to. But I still don’t appreciate jokes about it. Yet that doesn’t mean I cannot see the humor if it is by me at myself. And sounding like a pissed off goose that is imitating Johnny Mathis and stutters – even I have to think that is vaguely humorous.

Which is why I do not try Dragon software with which the computer follows your vocal commands. I cannot imagine what it would look like if I stuttered. I have tried to imagine, but I really don’t want to know. It would pain me to think that all these years of public speaking and mental adjustment was all for anything close to naught. I usually don’t have a problem when I have a guitar in my hand, but carrying a guitar around and whipping it out when I talk would be more than a little awkward. While waiting around in a fast food place, it would really suck.

But I seriously digress. I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I did writing it – not as much as I did living it, which was minimal. However, I would like to say that when I played my set, I did really well. Then things went south. So, looking back on it now, I leave you with these words of wisdom.

If we cannot find humor in ourselves, we are not looking hard enough. And try to stay away from drafts.

Peace be with you.

Join my mailing list for the latest news