This article is about the songwriter.  For the Old West Texas Ranger and later outlaw best known for his association with gunman Johnny Ringo, see

Scott Richard Cooley (born June 21, 1967 in Flint, Michigan) is an American songwriter best known for having a website that says he is one, and also for the fact that his recordings are available for sale in online music stores.  Primarily an acoustic rock musician, Scott enjoys recording himself singing and playing instruments on songs he's written, then releasing the best of those recordings as albums every two years.  Each features approximately 13 songs of new original material.

In the unlikely event that he is known to anyone other than himself and a close circle of family and friends as a songwriter and recording artist, he is probably known by them as one of the many sad examples of self-taught musicians who has put their home-recorded music on the internet and wisely not given up their day job.  Chances are he is also regarded as someone whose singing voice is so bad it makes it difficult to tell if the songs are any good or not, and his sloppy playing of various acoustic instruments hasn't helped the matter.  Typically when one runs across such an artist, they find themselves wondering why an untrained, unskilled, untalented amateur would even attempt such a thing in the first place, and in the case of Scott Cooley, there's no evidence to suggest he'd be an exception.

Online album release history


Rather than patiently waiting for a lightning strike, Scott's future plans include charging ahead on a road paved with crushed dreams.  Although the failure to connect with an audience of any kind to speak of has yet to deter his perseverance, rumor has it he's considering incorporating increased prayer to a higher power into his pre-release strategy next time and plans to release one more album in 2020 after which if the situation does not improve he will take an extended break.

Notwithstanding his apparent lack of being in touch with reality, Scott has never stopped hoping someone might find out about his music by visiting his website, or by discovering it in one of the online stores, and then purchase it.  With an attitude that simply not giving up will somehow eventually reverse the trend of unsuccessful album releases, Scott continues to look for ways to make contact with the outside world to create awareness of his music with the hope that it might someday translate into increased traffic to his website and increased music sales figures.  The sporadic, free marketing/advertising opportunities he has occasionally found and taken advantage of on the world wide web have not proven to be advantageous in any way, and as a result, Scott has yet to develop much of a following or fan base for his music. 

Through reaching out to acquaintances via social networking, he has managed to achieve some actual awareness of his recordings in recent months, letting them know that they are available both as Compact Discs (CDs) and MP3 downloads, but such efforts have failed to improve the overall fortunes of his work as an independent recording artist.  Similarly, his mailing list is an incredibly small one, experiencing growth at a rate so discouragingly slow that it has proven to be of nominal importance as a tool to increase interest in his music.  As a songwriter and home recording hobbyist who does not perform in public at all yet alone tour, he still continues to offer the mailing list, the "news" page, and his blog for those who want to occasionally learn of his songwriting and recording activities as well as his album releases and locations where they may be purchased in web music stores. 

Despite these efforts, and despite the wide availability and reasonable prices, to date Cooley's entire catalog of released material has been met with almost total commercial indifference.  To his credit, Scott has shrewdly kept his costs extremely low so that his investment in his instruments, home recording equipment and digital distribution has been modest and affordable.

Reception and Audience

"I have no idea why I like Scott Cooley, but I do"


From the very small amount of information received from listeners, a theory has emerged:  It's people with a certain personality type more than anything else who become Scott Cooley fans.  It's mostly the music we're talking about here, not necessarily the person.  The artist.  You may know Scott personally, but take that out of the equation for a moment.


People who are open to trying new things start getting into Scott Cooley's music slowly.  It might start with a recommendation from a person they trust.  Some first impressions are an overall amateur quality, a lot of acoustic guitar, and not the best singing voice.  Getting past those with a little patience, they find themselves appreciating that it's not fake-sounding or overly electronic, and the voice becomes uniquely interesting.  Continuing on with exploring the variety available, some people start to notice they feel better than when they started, but they're not sure why.


Those same people, quite often, are not the types of music fans you would expect to get into this kind of music.  If you looked through their favorite music, you'd be surprised, but they like Scott Cooley anyway.  Just as with any music really, they can only handle so much at a time, and that's why an album's worth in under one hour is just about right.  Favorites emerge that they keep going back to, but some of those mental lists can change over time as more discovery occurs.  The mental lists might even become playlists.  Not expecting to like any of it, they find that they do, but are not able to explain it.  It's almost like becoming a fan was an unconscious, accidental thing they couldn't help.


It has been reported that listening to Scott Cooley makes people feel euphoric.  Fans say that his music makes them feel a pleasurable and intense tingling sensation in the neck, on the scalp, and often traveling through the rest of the body.  The sensation is often followed by feelings of relaxation and tranquility, leaving listeners feeling calm and blissful.  

Seriously, there's some science behind this kind of experience.  The exact psychological and neurological causes are understudied and not yet fully understood.  However, it is believed that the brain regions associated with self-reflection and mind-wandering become active when the mind is at rest, and these include those associated with self-awareness, reward, and emotional arousal. 


Further, it is believed that sound waves from the music help to increase brain alpha wave activity, which is associated with meditative states and relaxation, but also arousal, heightened alertness and emotional responsiveness.  Some individuals are more sensitive to it than others, and those with the personality trait of "openness" are the most strongly affected.  Those who are open to new experiences are most likely to experience mood enhancement, and a feeling of being "in the zone" or a highly absorbed mental state of deep engagement.  Maybe it's the melodies, the instrumentation, the lyrical messages, or his unique voice.  Overall, it's an allure that is appealing and therapeutic, but remains a mystery.

Recommendations occur, and people are not sure if they have room for a new musical artist in their lives.  It's consideration of a potential new relationship in a way.  It can be like saying 'We should definitely make plans and get together some time.' which is the end-of-conversation equivalent to 'How are you?' that likely won't happen.  Expecting some variation of 'good' as a reply, it's rare to get anything more in polite conversation.  Recommenders may even follow up with a re-recommend, a friendly reminder suggesting they really think you'll like this artist, and that Scott Cooley is your kind of music.  Responses happen.


"When I have time, definitely."

“Okay, I’ll see if I can get into it”

"Yeah, I'll try that"

"I'll have to check it out sometime"

"Still haven't gotten around to it yet, but I will eventually"

"Alright, maybe I'll give it a try"


Et cetera.  It's not for everyone.  It's not commercial.  It's not radio-friendly.  It's far from the mainstream.  Drastically different than what's popular.  Not movie-quality.  Different songs mean different things to different people.  It's not so much that you put yourself in Scott's shoes, it's more that you get carried away, lost in your own thoughts somehow.  There are no subliminal messages at unconscious frequencies.  There's just something about the combination of things contributing to the whole that becomes a recipe for improving your mood.  

Or, as the French say:

je ne sais quoi | ZHə nə sā ˈkwä | noun a quality that cannot be described or named easily: that je ne sais quoi that makes a professional. ORIGIN French, literally ‘I do not know what’.

Scott Cooley

Scott Cooley sporting Billboard Song Contest T-Shirt "award" in East Lansing, Michigan, 2008.

Background information


June 21st, 1967

Flint, MI, US

Birth name

Scott Richard Cooley

Also known as

Tiger, Scottopher, Scooter, Cool Breeze, Cools, Cooleymon, Scotty, Homeslice, Boo


acoustic rock, garage rock, heartland rock, tropical rock, folk, Americana


Technical Writer (day), Songwriter (night)


acoustic guitar, lap steel, vocals, bass, harmonica, marimba, drums, percussion, keyboard, ukulele

Years active as songwriter



Cool Breeze Records

Scott Cooley Records

Associated acts

Corbin Daugherty, Acoustic Circus,  Surreal, Eric Whirley, Primal J & the Neanderthals, The Bus Drivers, Steve Cobb, J. Scott Thompson, Driftwood, Lake Effect, Acoustic Jones, OraMusicTrax, Rich Marr


Notable instruments

Deegan Marimba, Hohner Special 20 harmonicas, Ovation non-upright acoustic bass guitar, LP congas/bongos,  Weissenborn Hawaiian acoustic lap steel guitar, Fender Mino'Aka ukulele

Early life and career

Scott's early musical life involved taking about five piano lessons at a young age, then quitting.  He sang in mandatory elementary school choir, and once in a Presbyterian church choir, but his only contribution was lip-synching.  Also from his early childhood, he remembers his favorite songs from the first mix tape he made from recording the radio were Bus Stop by the Hollies and My Beautiful Balloon by The Fifth Dimension.  As his appreciation of music matured, he particularly enjoyed his parents' vinyl records of John Denver and The Beach Boys.  

As he began to collect his own records at about the age of 10 (1977) he remembers his favorites as being Kiss - Alive II, Boston, and the Beatles blue album.  His high school years involved developing an appreciation for live rock music at Pine Knob, an outdoor ampitheater at a ski area in Clarkston, Michigan.   He mainly enjoyed what was considered hard rock at this time, but also discovered Neil Young from a friend's older brother's collection, which he found particularly appealing.  

Later in college, he was both introduced to the concept of open microphone night events at parties and live music shows from touring folk artists.  During college he bought his first acoustic guitar - a cheap, used Yamaha from a pawn shop in Flint.  After learning some chords there and moving to Colorado to ski, Scott became a member of some living room bands where he enjoyed playing long instrumental lead guitar solos during cover songs of blues and rock tunes, while also becoming a regular open mic performer with bands, duos, and performing his originals solo.  

Eventually, he landed some paid gigs at bars, most notably as the apres-ski entertainment at a slopeside saloon in Vail as half of an acoustic duo act playing popular classic rock covers.  More and more, he gravitated to writing his own songs rather than memorizing popular songs written by others, and eventually came to enjoy recording them, first on cassettes, then 4-track, and then progressing to digital as free time and spare spending money would allow.  What started as a fascination with simply having a creative hobby became something he couldn't go long without doing.

Private Life

Scott married his wife Lenore in 2003.  Together, they enjoy their golden retrievers, as well as downhill alpine snow skiing, travel and other activities typical for married life.  They value occasional get-togethers with friends and family in their home state of Michigan.  Scott also enjoys occasional sailing as an invited guest (not a sailboat owner), windsurfing, hiking, hacky-sack, frisbee, and playing tennis.  He is a technical writer by vocation, and also enjoys writing poetry, blogging, and maintaining his personal website when not writing and recording songs.

Music style, instrumentation and influences

Scott's music style is marked by songs that are quite varied in time signature, tempo, structure, rhyme pattern and subject matter.  Genres that Scott's songs might be categorized as include rock, folk, Americana, norteno, roots rock, folk-rock, garage rock, heartland rock, adult contemporary, punk, funk, rap, tropical rock, zydeco, reggae, island, surf rock, rhythm & blues, blues, ballad and instrumental.  Combinations of this variety can be found on each album, though each is titled and based on a single theme.  Similarly, the songs on his albums show some variety in instrumentation from song to song, some featuring either ukulele, piano, marimba, lap style slide guitar, harmonica, or accordion for melodies, intros, and solos, while some featuring those same instruments as fills or harmonic rhythm accompaniment.  

On the other hand, if there is a signature Scott Cooley sound, the constants that can be heard on most of his recordings are the distinct playing of acoustic rhythm guitar, acoustic lead guitar, acoustic bass guitar, snare drum and djembe.  Additional percussion instruments used on occasion are maracas, cowbell, tambourine, congas, bongos, hi-hat cymbal and washboard.  Always present is the clear and warm quality of Scott's baritone voice on lead and background vocals.  Scott's recordings occasionally feature his lovely wife Lenore on background vocals, keyboards, marimba and accordion.  All other instruments, including some marimba, Scott plays himself.  Recently, he's taught himself some piano and ukulele that he's added to the instrumentation on some recordings.  Scott has had no formal training and is completely self-taught in all aspects of his music hobby.

Like his music style, Scott's influences are many and varied, but most prominently involve great songs by great songwriters such as Lennon/McCartney, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jagger/Richards, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, James Taylor, Robbie Robertson, John Fogerty, Led Zeppelin, Mark Farner, Bob Seger, Iggy Pop, Ween, Ramones, REM, Violent Femmes, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Tom Petty and Jack White to name a few.

Songwriter/Recording Artist/Record Producer

Scott has written hundreds of songs since 1989 when he started teaching himself how to play guitar.  About a year or so after starting to write songs, he started recording himself singing and playing them on guitar using a tape recorder. As he added instruments and upgraded his recording equipment over the years, he progressed as both a songwriter and record producer.  Currently, he has a home studio where he records himself performing his own songs in a computer-based digital multi-track environment that includes microphones, an audio interface, and editing software.  He uses this to produce compact discs and downloadable songs and albums that he makes available for sale online.  He does absolutely everything involved in this process himself, except for guest background vocals, keyboard and accordion by his wife Lenore.  These activities include songwriting, producing, arranging, publishing, licensing rights administration, playing all the instruments, singing all the vocals, recording, engineering, mixing, mastering, artwork, packaging, and delivery for distribution.

Live Performance and Unreleased Recordings

Several factors have contributed to Scott not performing live in front of people or appearing in any videos very often.  His realization of not having a good singing voice, his inability to memorize his own songs (let alone covers of others), and his lack of confidence in his physical appearance since gaining a significant amount of weight beginning in the late 90s have all caused him to have stage fright.  Little footage or even pictures of his live performances in his early 20s exists primarily due to the fact that in the early 90s, people didn't have phones with cameras everywhere they went.  As his days of playing lead guitar in duos and cover bands in the Vail, Colorado area dwindled, his performance shifted to that of his own original songs at coffee houses and bars as a solo act in both Colorado and Michigan after a move back to his home state.  As his preference for private "woodshedding" of writing and recording at home increased, his public performance schedule steadily decreased, which now includes only sporadic playing of originals in songwriter groups, rare appearances at songwriting retreats, the occasional open mic night, and a yearly gig at an event in northern Michigan.  Frequently accompanied by his lovely wife Lenore on either accordion or marimba, he has regularly performed as the headlining act at the annual Schmoopiepalooza festival on the shores of Pickerel Lake in Petoskey occasionally augmented by the U of Norton Coed Choir on backing vocals and the Petosega Players on percussion. 

Several long recordings made by Scott Cooley and his various collaborators over the years remain unreleased, including early cassettes from his bands Surreal, Daugherty & Cooley, Cobb & Cooley, and The Bus Drivers.  Sadly, most of these are believed to be lost.  Also unreleased, but in Scott's possession, are numerous hours of recorded material - many of which included extended jams - of his bands Driftwood, Lake Effect, and Acoustic Jones, all of which also featured songwriter/guitarist/vocalist/harmonica player and former music journalist Rich Marr.  Scott has solo cassette archives of his first take catalog that include both early versions of released songs, and unreleased songs that number in the hundreds.  Finally, Scott has hours of digitally recorded multitrack mixdown originals that remain unreleased - what he refers to as his "borderline keepers" as well as the cassette-only Scott Cooley (his self-titled debut album), a previously-released but now out of print album called Homegrown (bootlegs are rumored to be in circulation), and a holiday/Christmas covers album titled A Cooley Christmas (update - "released" for free on YouTube and Google+ in 2011).


See the Press Kit page for actual reviews and related information.

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FAQ  |  Reviews

Awards, nominations, and achievements

(table listing songwriting competition awards)


(listing of actual press from real publications, blogs)

External Links

Scott Cooley on MusicBrainz - a community-maintained open source encyclopedia of music information.

Real Wikipedia Categories Scott Will Probably Never Be Listed In:  Songwriters from Michigan  |  American singer-songwriters  |  Musicians from Michigan  |  People from Flint, Michigan