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.
On Friday, my first publisher, Kim Williams, called me to congratulate me for getting to play the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday. We talked about the early days when Kim, Ron Harbin and I each wrote 2-3 songs per day. We were putting out an insane amount of music.
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.
Clay and I do a lot of mentoring sessions through Songtown.com. One of the big discoveries we have made in those sessions is that people have all kinds of different goals for their music. And we have discovered that almost every answer to every question people ask us depends on THEIR answer to the question, "What are you shooting for?"
More and more, I realize that, at my best, I’m following the song, not leading the song. Once we land on an idea, the goal becomes getting out of the way and letting the song say what it wants to say. Sounds easy, but it’s not.
There is a standard joke in Nashville that goes "What do you call a songwriter without a wife or girlfriend?" The punchline is "homeless." There is almost always some truth in a joke. The truth in this one is that most of us - me included - need some support, both emotional and financial, early in our careers if we hope to succeed.