This five part series is dedicated to what happens beyond the first draft of your song. Sometimes, songs are born to you like the Goddess, Athena. They spring out of your noggin’ fully formed and perfect. Don’t you love songs like that? They’re gifts from whatever higher power or inner power you believe in. Accept them and be grateful.
There is power in simplicity. When you write something in simple, conversational language that nails people right in the heart, the listeners have this "aha" moment where they slap their head and say "That's exactly how I felt when..."
In March singer/songwriter Wendy Beckerman won best song of the month at the West Coast Songwriters Contra Costa Chapter competition. Her winning song, “Things the Times Haven't Changed,” is a beguiling recitation of timeless delights. It sounds like home in a most wonderful way. Hear it here!
I read an interview with the lead singer for a band that just had their first big hit single. The person doing the interview (out of ignorance) said, “What’s it like to be an overnight success?” The lead singer’s response was priceless. He said, “That was one hell of a night.”
Many of you have heard me tell that I have demoed over 6,000 songs and have around 80 cuts. That's not a great cut to demo ratio. I don't even want to know what percentage that would be.vBut, I have discovered that one of the keys to being successful is failing a lot while keeping your enthusiasm up.
When I first began writing, I wrote from an innocent and raw place. I was 11 years old when i wrote my first song. As I recall, it was about Lee. She lived up the street from me and we had been classmates at school since first grade. So I wrote my first song about my first crush. I had something to say. It came from a place of passion. I wanted so badly to be able to say to Lee what I was writing down on paper.
There is a growing perception that music (and writers) have no intrinsic value. I have people all the time encouraging me to give a song away or to come play a show for free. I have actually had people get offended when I told them I wouldn’t come play somewhere for nothing. They tell me that I will be getting great “exposure” for my music. Meanwhile, they are packing the house and making lots of money on drinks, food and cover charges.
Often, people ask me when, how and where I find inspiration. I generally tell them that I sit down on a couch every day with a blank word document on the screen in front of me and a guitar in my lap. If inspiration doesn't show up at 10:30 when my co-write starts, then I start going through my idea file or playing my guitar.
One day, my friend Danny Wells and I wrote a song. We were really excited about it, so Danny wanted to play it for his publisher. We went in the man's office and Danny played it live. I could tell as he was playing that the guy didn't seem like he liked it. We asked him what he didn't like - was it the groove, the feel, the title, the lyric? "All of it," was his response. He hated all of it. Every piece of it. His final comment was the nail in the coffin. "Boys, I would just consider that a day of practice songwriting and move on."