When I first started to pursue a career in music, I set out on a path to try to become the best at everything. Then I realized that day that I needed to figure out what I was best at and to try to become one of THE best at THAT.
A song containing a few as one or two chords can be just as well-crafted as a far more intricate composition. Of course, the world is full of guitarists who play a D-to-G strum pattern ad infinitum, rhyme “fire” with “desire” and declare that they’ve written a song. You goal as a songwriter is to not be that person.
While Don McLean was recording “American Pie,” the eight-minute-plus song that brought him stardom in late 1971, his label, Media Arts Records, went under. Understandably, the situation put a damper on any great expectations McLean had for the song. “I wasn’t thinking of releasing or editing it,” he says today. “My expectations were that I would be looking for a record company.”
People often ask me to define the biggest mistake I see songwriters making as they chase that first cut. If I had to pick one BIG one, I would say that it is using out-dated language. Anyone who is over 30 years old has to continually be aware of the "slang" that they are using in their song. Using the wrong words can INSTANTLY get your song thrown out and get you labeled as an out-dated and out of touch writer.
Clay and I continually running into people throughout SongTown territories that have "write-up-itis." We can spot the affliction immediately, because we have both battled this dreadful and potentially fatal disease in the past.
As songwriters, we think of tempo as the most basic of basics. Tempo, or the speed at which we perform a song, is sort of the quiet engine, the driving force behind all our tunes; yet, because we consider it so "Songwriting 101," tempo can sometimes become songcraft’s sadly neglected middle child.
We all get ‘em. Those moments when inspiration doesn’t seem to come around. What do you do? Pound your head agains the wall? Maybe. How about a better strategy? Here hit songwriter Clay Mills shares his tips for bumping yourself out of that rut. Check ‘em out!