The first time I saw Daniel Neihoff perform in a writer’s round, I think my exact words were Holy ….! He is good! The singer/songwriter’s songs tell a story and paint a picture, as he is one of the best storytelling songwriters in Nashville. Daniel comes from humble roots, growing up in Paducah, Kentucky. His story seems improbable but inspiring. Interviewing Daniel was an invaluable learning experience, and I am truly blessed to be able to share his story with you.
A Humble Beginning
Daniel Neihoff, the youngest of six children, was born in Texas. His family moved to Kentucky at the age of four. Daniel’s mother decided they were moving and bought their house sight unseen. Upon their arrival in Kentucky, they found a house that needs some TLC. His father worked tirelessly making that house a home for a family of eight. Daniel’s family had enough to get through, but the singer/songwriter learned a lot from his parents. Their resilience was inspiring. Daniel said, “I felt blessed to have what we did, especially when I think about how little my parents had when they were growing up.”
Music Is In His Blood
At the age of eight, Daniel began playing guitar and writing songs. He had watched his father play guitar, even though “he only knew three chords, G C and D.” If you want to write country songs, that’s enough. Daniel said, “My dad has written hundreds of songs. He would come in from his job as a house painter, sit in his chair, and play his guitar. I was amazed at my father’s ability to focus with six kids running around the house. Music was a release for my dad.”
Learning guitar for Daniel took perseverance. Daniel’s family was too poor to afford guitar lessons, so he had to learn what he could from others. Daniel said, “My cousin was taking guitar lessons so I would ask her to show me what she was learning. She thought I was taking an interest in her life, but I just wanted to see what she had learned on guitar. My uncle was a terrific guitar player, and he would show me a few things.” Daniel also tries to learn from others, whether they are a musician or not. The singer/songwriter believes “everyone has something they can teach me.”
The Love of Songwriting
Songwriting is Daniel’s passion, although he has grown to love performing as well. The first song Daniel wrote was a worship song. It was about seeing, feeling, and hearing what God does. He said, “If I could see through God’s eyes, then I would know what people need and be able to help them.” He began writing songs as a way to purge his demons, because “it’s cheaper than therapy.” The singer/songwriter said, “You can get lost in a song for three minutes and forget about your problems.” You can be hurting so bad, so you have to write something to get it off your chest. You can be so happy, that you have to tell the world about it. Something could hit you so hard, that the words pour out.”
Music Can Change Lives
Daniel Neihoff has been writing songs for twenty years, and he released music for the first time a couple of months ago. Music gives him the ability to “look into someone’s heart and provide someone with an answer.” In his early twenties, his sister was in an abusive relationship. Daniel wrote a song to attempt to help her, but he didn’t tell her it was about her. The song was titled, “Want but Don’t Need.” The singer/songwriter was able to reach her and others through this song.” Daniel said, “I would play this song at open mics, and people would come up after saying it feels like you wrote this song for me.” Daniel loves writing different types of songs. However, given a choice, the songwriter will always write a song that can save someone’s life.
The Stories Behind the Songs
Appalachian Cry is the title of Daniel Neihoff’s debut EP. If you have not listened to it, do yourself a favor and download it or stream it today. The songs he has chosen to include on this project are potent examples of songs that tell a story. When you are listening, the songs paint a picture in your mind.
The title track, “Appalachian Cry” was inspired by a documentary his father used to watch every time it was on television. Daniel would sit and watch this documentary with his father. It resonated with him because of his own family’s struggle, but it also gave him a perspective about what it would be like to indeed have nothing. Songs that highlight moments in history that otherwise seem to get glossed over such as this one, Daniel loves to write. The singer/songwriter said, “The mining companies would come in buy everything in the town, pay their workers with “coal cash.” He references this in the song with this line “what they paid me wasn’t worth a dime.” “When they had gotten all the could from the land, the companies would pack up and leave the miners with nothing.
“I See Memories”
“I See Memories,” co-written with Joybeth Taylor was inspired by a conversation Daniel had while visiting the home of an older lady. Daniel said, “I noticed a painting of a boat. I said that is a nice painting, and she told me the story of how she got it and who gave it to her.” The lady told him, “When you get to be my age, you only keep things that mean something to you.” Daniel remarked, “I just saw a painting of a boat, but you see memories.” He then immediately wrote the line down. He spent some time researching the items mentioned in the song by talking with other people.
“Civil War Letters”
Daniel was always interested in writing a song about the Civil War. When he finally sat down to write the song, it took him only thirty minutes. The singer/songwriter wrote the song intending to “highlight the idea that we have differences, but we can still love each other. We must remember we are all human.” This idea is something we can work toward. Daniel believes, “We just need to love each other.”
“New Old Timer”
Many have described Daniel Neihoff as somewhat of an old soul. He grew up listening to the legends, and “New Old Timer” pays tribute to songwriters and songs of the past. He hopes that he can carry on that mantle for those who “paved the way.” Many people would say he is well on this way to do just that.
Daniel’s Future Plans
Daniel Neihoff will be playing at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Also, he will continue playing rounds around Nashville. The singer/songwriter’s goal is to make enough money through music to support his family. Neihoff’s wants to keep writing songs for other people, and also release songs that are unique for himself. Daniel would love to tour with other great storytelling artists, like Jason Isbell. I recently heard someone say that Daniel reminds them of Isbell, but he still has a unique sound.
Destined for Greatness
Daniel Neihoff has all the makings of a superstar singer/songwriter. However, without music, he still would have been impacting others’ lives. The songwriter said, “I would have probably been a therapist if I had not been involved with music.” Neihoff has a love for people. He wants to help them change their lives with or without music. If you get the chance to see Daniel perform, I promise you will walk away affected in some way. On a personal note, I can say that interviewing Daniel was a tremendous learning experience. He taught me the importance of being humble and thankful for the blessings of life. Thank you, Daniel, for sharing your heart and your talent with the world.