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This was our opportunity to introduce a boy band sound and I had just the singer. Matt Carlson is a Charlotte native, 18 and an extremely talented writer, guitarist and vocalist. Having previously spent many hours in the studio with Matt, I knew his strengths; vocals and harmonies. He was our boy band, all wrapped up into one. But we first needed a song.


I tried to make one of Kimberly’s poem titles the hook to our song, but “Boys Demands” just didn’t roll off the tongue very easily. One night while asleep the hook “Don’t Give In” came to me. I rushed down stairs to my trusty H4 and recorded what I had heard in my dream. The next morning I woke to a recording that marked the beginning of our boy band song.


My creativity however, got out of control on the early renditions of this track. I got caught up in trying too hard to be musically clever. My melodies, chords and lyrics quickly got too complex. It sounded more like it belonged in a Zappa concert than on a pop album for teenagers. Joe was kind but direct when he first heard it. “Wow Bruce, you’ve got more chords in this song than Carter has pills!” I had worked hard on the song and was excited to let him hear it, but the second he said what he needed to say, I realized that I had gotten way off track.


Back to the drawing board I went, but the chorus from my dream remained because it was simple and memorable. A week later I went back to Joe with a revised version of “Don’t Give In.” After hearing it he smiled. His nudge the week prior made all the difference and he knew it.


When in the studio recording his vocals (every voice you hear on this track is his), Matt made the recommendation to break the song down after the bridge and into the last chorus. Brilliant! Sometimes the simplest things are the best.


I think that the sounds Joe created on this track represent some of his finest work on the entire CD.      



as told by composer Bruce McKagan

Matt Carlson

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