Jimmy Webb - Glen Campbell

The Lyrical Power of Wichita Lineman

This week, with the passing of legendary singer-songwriter Glen Campbell, we’ve been hearing a lot about some of the songs that made him famous as a solo artist: “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Galveston”, “Gentle On My Mind”, and “Wichita Lineman”, among many, many others. “Wichita Lineman” was written by Jimmy Webb, and it’s the song I’ve been […]

Songwriting and emotion

Songwriting, Emotion and Relevance

Good songs are efficient communication devices. But not particularly of facts and figures: if you want to educate your audience about the history of your town, for example, a song is a poor choice for doing so. Unless your song lyric is 80,000 words long, a book will more efficiently convey facts and figures. But […]

Why Writing From a Title Works So Well

In considering the many ways that songwriters start the songwriting process, working from a title is, in my opinion, one of the best. The reason comes down to one word: focus. To tell you more about what I mean, consider one of the other common ways to get the process started: working from a chord progression. […]

Great Song, But How Do You Get People to Care?

In 1958, American composer Milton Babbitt wrote an article for High Fidelity Magazine, called “Who Cares If You Listen?” The provocative title referred to the complexity of modern classical music, and the inability for most people to understand it or enjoy it. Babbitt’s position was that music had become like advanced physics or mathematics: too […]

Justin Vernon - Bon Iver - 22, A Million

Turning Your Poems Into Song Lyrics

Have you ever had the experience of feeling that you write pretty good poetry, but every time you try to come up with a melody and chords that makes it sound like a good song lyric, it just doesn’t work? There are any number of reasons why that might be happening. Here are some possible ones: […]