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If you made it up, you're a songwriter and this is your group!
Latest Activity: on Saturday
Started by Lon Milo DuQuette. Last reply by Lon Milo DuQuette Sep 13.
Started by Paul J Openshaw. Last reply by Rick Heenan Jul 18.
Started by Jud Hair. Last reply by Jud Hair Jul 12.
Back in the mid eighties, I wanted to write a song but I didn't know how. I was just doing John Prine and Neil Young covers. Then one night I was watching SCTV (Second City Television, remember that?) with the late, great John Candy. He walked out with a western shirt, bolo, cowboy hat and guitar and he said "If ya wanna write a hit country song, ya gotta write about critters. Cuz folks like songs about critters." Up to that point, that was the best songwriting advice I had gotten. So I wrote a song and I call it "The Critter Song". I hope you like it.
It goes a little somethin' like this-
I remember reading the phone book in a theatre class for the same reason .. To show how sound tells a story
I usually write a song story to go along with the lyrics. Just a paragraph with what I was writing about. Some songs are self explanitory, Others need more info. I started doing this after a couple of my songs were misinterpreted and I did a couple shows that required them for publicity.
Sometimes the nonsensical words are more to show the uses of the human voice as an instrument. In a college english class we had to write a nonsense piece to show the power of the voice and establish the meter and tempo of the spoken words. Not as easy as it sounds.
Skat, being a fine example.
Along these same lines...I read an interview with John Lennon and he said that when he was in school and wrote poems (early lyrics) his teachers said they were awful (rubbish) and that he would surely never amount to anything as a poet. THEN, when he became famous early on as a songwriter in the Beatles, he heard that at that same school they were using his lyrics to teach poetry, imagery, time, and creative storytelling! He was so mad that he wrote "I am the Walrus" with it's loose references to Alice in Wonderland, but mostly nonsense words, and said "Here, let them figure this one out!" That's not a direct quote as there were some expletives in there that I can't remember!
I am often blown away when someone takes home one of my CD's, within which I include the lyrics, and then comes back and says "I know exactly what you were trying to say here...I have truly seen, felt, heard, or known...that!" James Taylor was quoted (in the mid 70's when his music and career started to take off) as saying that he would not tell others what he meant to say in a song...he would rather them take what they wanted it to mean from it. I can agree with that...but I have found myself explaining to some people what I meant, especially when they are so off it seems ridiculous to me...but then I remember what JT said and step back and say that if it makes them happy or reminiscent of something positive they can have it for their very own! We can't control what they feel or think, and I guess we shouldn't, we should just be happy that they are that passionate about something we created!
I have a quote in my last CD from the book called "Song Man" by Wil Hodgkinson (the book I referred to below) that goes: "Whatever your level of success, (with songwriting) you will have written songs that mean something to someone. And that should be enough." How true! Edward
I am always amazed at the interpretations of my songs by others ... sometimes it is something totally opposite what I was getting at ... I find this wonderful, magical and interesting .. you are right it IS like a painting ... it is art ...
Opps sorry I meant you Edward in respect to that last post.
Ken is quite right there as is Jackson Browne (a favorite of mine). I have a song which will be on my new CD (there is a video of it on my myspace) called The Meaning Of This Song.....which basically puts in to a song that phenomena (Jackson Browne who said that we listen to their music and lyrics, music and lyrics that inspire us, and then we turn it into something of our own). Paraphrasing the song What comes out of my head blue goes through the listeners head and comes out red. That is the way it is and so it should be you express you feelings or position the listener interprets it as it suits them. Of course not all songs are like that sometimes there is no interpretation available for instance Ohio by N. Young there is no doubt about that song however there may be a difference of opinion or feelings about the situation it is pretty straight forward.
Some of my songs require no explanation others are open to interpretation and I usually don't give an explanation about a song before I perform it. That is all part of songwriting it's like a painting everyone sees it differently.
I am with Ken and Bob Crain here...totally. For me there is no method, it is just magic. I have done music for video work and it has been very profitable but not as exciting or challenging to me. I like instrumentals but that is too easy for me, I love lyrics. I like lyrics that either tell a story (like Harry Chapin) or make a comment (like Crosby, Stills and Nash). I also love lyrics and they way they must work with the music. Also, I think it was Jackson Browne who said that we listen to their music and lyrics, music and lyrics that inspire us, and then we turn it into something of our own. I t may not sound anything like what inspired us in the first place but it is our own. Most of the time my stuff is a mixture of all that inspire me at that moment, so it comes out even less any one artists inspiration. It's different and personal for everybody and that is the magic of it! Edward
Great book, both funny and inspirational, written by a person who desperatly wants to write a great song...
I am unsure about "method songwriting" "song writing formula" or the "give yourself a task theory" ..... songs hit me like a bolt of lightening (lyrics anyway) they just get sent to my head by the patron Saint of Songwriting I guess. I do not sit down and think "I am going to write a song today". If (and have tried long ago) I attempt to produce songs written in this manner they lack "inspiration" and therefore the delivery of them lacks emotion.
Sometimes I just get bits and pieces of songs and I write them down, then at some point they seem to conglomerate into a song. More often though it is a complete set of lyrics and then it's finding the right tune, chords, melody to suit, but it is usually very obvious to me what that is once the lyrics are formed in to verses, chorus, bridge or whatever.
I don't generally get songs delivered about me or emotional attachments, I mean I have a beautiful wife, 2 beautiful daughters, 3 dogs and a cat.....they never seem to get a mention in the songs that are delivered to me, maybe someday.
What takes me the most time is getting them practiced up to performance level because they are long or very wordy with different choruses and bridges, or lyrically they seem to require a convoluted or difficult chord structuring to get it to work. People that play with me tell me my songs are simple but difficult to learn in the first instance.
Sometimes I have one or two songs on the learning curve, sometimes I over load and have 4 or 5 that I am working on. At the moment I probably have 6 finished sets of lyrics and a couple more in bits and pieces waiting for music.....and who knows when the next one is going to light.
I am currently recording a set of 11 songs in to a CD and using 7 other musicians so my concentration has been on that and those songs for a couple months. Recording in the studio with an engineer is a great experience but the concentration level required is enourmus especially if you are "producing" as well. I would prefer to be out on the scene playing the songs live ...... but the two really go hand in hand so it's gotta be done, hopefully it will be ready for release by end of Jan. ...... which is only 2 months behind my original "schedule"...that's rock and roll.
I don't go to song writing lessons, seminars, or conferences because I don't know how anyone could teach how to write a song...... it would be like lessons in how to get inspiration, don't know how that can be taught. I do like to read about and talk to other songwriters about their processes. I do try to learn about ways to use different chord structures in songs which I find Acoustic Guitar fantastic for, and the interviews with songwriters. (my favorite interview was with Jaycob Dylan, he has a similar process to mine.....just wait for the lightening to strike).
I don't think about writing hit songs or even songs that would be accepted, played on radio, gain me a recording contract or anything like that ..... I just take what comes and put it on paper. The rest is up to the listeners.....I am getting a bit of play on Folk Alley, and on community folk radio here in Aust. so that is encouraging..... but you have to write what you know, or what comes to you, if you are making it up in an effort to "write a song" I just don't know how that can work. Most of the greats when asked how to write a song will say they don't know the answer to that.
I often say when something is said or happens ..... there's a song in that and their usually is but who it gets delivered to is another matter.
That is my take on songwriting and I am sure it is not in keeping with others but that is just the point ..... there is no One Way when it comes to songwriting.
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