Phil Maffetone

Singer-songwriter Phil Maffetone brings a unique musical experience to listeners. He’s performed throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia. His songs have been used in documentaries, commercials and other media. Phil has six albums, with music on more than 50 online music sites. He continues to refine his craft with the help of producer Rick Rubin, often recording at Shangri La Studios in Malibu, California. Phil writes various genres of music, from folk and folk rock, to rock, country and piano bar, performing solo or with other musicians. (See Song Samples above).

In addition to songwriter, performer and recording artist, Phil is a music producer, teaches creative songwriting, and, separately, educates doctors and other practitioners on various healthcare topics. He also combines the two with his Music and the Brain presentations.

Music marks a significant transition in Phil’s life. As a physician and best-selling health and fitness author, his teachings and holistic practices came to the attention of many professional musicians, including James Taylor, the late Johnny Cash, Damien Rice, Stephen Stills and others.

“While living in St. Augustine, I woke up one morning in 2002,” says Phil, “and suddenly decided to become a songwriter. It was such a powerful moment I immediately canceled my ‘other’ career and started learning to play and write music. I moved to Los Angeles for a few years to work with producer Rick Rubin.”

Phil often has friends drop by in the studio to help record his music — including John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Brad Wilk (Audioslave/Rage) and solo artist Jonny Polonsky.

Long before turning singer-songwriter, Phil studied the health effects of music — not only the joy, but the therapy as well. “It’s good for the brain and body. More than 5,000 years ago, Chinese medicine developed music as a therapy. The right kind of music stimulates the brain's alpha waves and feel-good chemicals, which promotes sound health.”

An aural-neural connection is reflected in the broad mix of Phil’s songs from one album to the next — a catchy blend of original songwriting that creates a subtle, mesmerizing power that kisses the brain and touches the heart. His earliest influence was the folk music of the 1950s and 60s, leading him to ultimately write witty, provocative lyrics with social and personal significance.

In addition to Phil’s singer-songwriting talents, he also researches, writes, and lectures on music’s powerful influence on the brain. He's measured the brain waves of great musicians using electroencephalographs (EEG) to monitor changes from listening to, writing and playing music. He was the first to demonstrate the Gallo Effect — when hearing a song for the first time, brain waves predict changes before they’re heard.

Phil has published many articles on music’s influence on human development, and the various forms of music therapy. He continues to perform live, and, separately and sometimes in conjunction with, lectures on music and the brain.

In Robert Hilburn’s bestselling book, the last chapter is mostly about Phil’s work with Johnny Cash.



In His Own Words

In the spring of 2002, I woke with an intense passion to become a songwriter. The feeling was not a fleeting emotion — it was among the most powerful moments of my life. As far back as I remember, my mind had music, and in time it was evident that it was original music — it was just always there. It became necessary to finally get that music out.

I quickly dismantled my successful 25-year career as a complementary sports medicine doctor, writer and speaker, and started making music, at least attempting it.

Growing up in the 1960s as a ravenous music consumer, learning to play it always eluded me. Like many of my peers, I tried learning popular songs with the same three guitar chords but without success. So when I woke that April morning, suddenly as a songwriter, it was both exhilarating and a bit confusing. Just what does a songwriter really do? I would soon learn the amazing journey of translating feelings into musical compositions.

For the first three days I paced back and forth, in between failed attempts at learning new chords. Then, on day four, producer Rick Rubin contacted me. It was not because of my musical talents, which were still in hiding. Rather, Rick had read one of my health books and wanted to consult with me. I told him that my career as a doctor was over because I had just become a songwriter. We laughed, then agreed to help each other in our respective endeavors.

I started spending time in Los Angeles with Rick, rubbing elbows with great songwriters, and being the proverbial fly on the wall during recording sessions, dinners, and parties. I was experiencing the music scene from its deepest and most creative spaces. It also led me to work as a physician with Johnny Cash, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Damien Rice, Dan Wilson, Stephen Stills, and many others. These experiences also helped unleash my personal songwriting creativity.

—Phil Maffetone

Phil recording in Nashville.