Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Songwriting


I don’t consider myself a songwriter. I don’t write songs, I just write them down. God, the Universe, whatever is out there pulling all the strings sees fit occasionally to throw me a bone, and within 10 minutes, it’s on paper for the whole world to see, for good or bad. The songs I actually “write” (meaning agonize over for months or years before they are considered finished) tend to pale in comparison to these “Gems from the Universe” as I like to call them. I’m thankful for these nuggets, for without them, well, you know what I mean. 


There is an art to songwriting that has almost been forgotten. People seem to think you can just throw a few words together over a mediocre piece of music and it’s a song, but there’s just more to it than that. For me, a song is like a short story, a brief glimpse into the life of the writer at that precise moment in time. Most of the best songs follow this formula. 


I prefer writing with a partner, someone I can bounce ideas off of and get feedback. A songwriting partner can inspire you to write by saying just the right thing at the right time. A partner can also help fill in the blanks in the storyline and polish off the rough edges, help with music, etc. I don’t get to write with a partner that much anymore, and trying to find my way alone has been an uphill climb. 


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost a song sent by the Universe because I didn’t have a pen and paper handy. Now, I keep a scratchpad on my iPod Touch for jotting down ideas as they come to me. I keep a notepad and pen in every room of my house (yes, even the bathroom) so that I always have something to write with and on in the event I become “inspired.” Most of the things I write down never see the light of day, but I have them if I’m ever looking for a line. Many times I have pulled out old notebooks and flipped through, only to be inspired by something I had written years ago and presto, someone fills in all the blanks for me. 


A good song will make a connection with you; make you feel what the writer was feeling at the time. Love, joy, pain, sadness, anger, all these emotions can be triggered by a good song. A good song can take you places you’ve never been, make you see things you’ve never seen, and you never have to leave your seat.