Frustrated songwriter

Why Your Good Songs Start Sounding Bad

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Does this ever happen to you: you write a song, you love it, you find yourself listening to it for hours on end. And then a few days later, all you seem to notice are problems. It just doesn’t do it for you anymore.

Why does that happen? How can a song descend from one that you thought was exciting and a potential hit, to being boring and riddled with problems? Did it always have problems, and you just didn’t notice them?

This is a relatively common issue amongst songwriters, and not one you should overly worry about. Part of the problem is psychological in the sense that how we connect with songs (even our own) comes down to mood and state of mind. And since these are always changing, our attitude toward songs will change as well.

That aside, here are some thoughts on why your good songs might start sounding bad:

  1. After an initial feeling of euphoria, you hear the song more objectively. If you found yourself being “wowed” by your song right at the start, it’s only a matter of time before the feeling of excitement is replaced with a more objective reckoning.
  2. You’re getting better. This can happen especially after listening to a song that you wrote 6 months or a year ago. Your style has changed, and frankly, you’re better now. So when you listen to something you wrote a while back, you might even cringe at the kind of lyric you wrote, and generally feel unhappy with the kind of music you used to write.
  3. You may lack self-esteem. This is not very likely, however, because you’d likely feel this way about the song from the very beginning. There are people, however, who feel that everything they do never quite measures up.

Feeling dissatisfaction with your songs can actually be a positive attribute, as long as it doesn’t evolve from dissatisfaction to intense frustration. Dissatisfaction is what keeps us searching, keeps us creating, and keeps our composition process fresh.

If you find that you’re always thinking negatively about music you’ve written a week, a month or a year ago, here are some steps to help you stay positive:

  1. Embrace naiveté. Your older music should sound less sophisticated to you, particularly if you think that you’re developing good songwriting skills. So naiveté simply means that you’ve moved on to new styles and new abilities. In that process, don’t be overly critical of the steps you needed to take to get you there.
  2. Don’t immerse yourself in your old music. Keep looking forward. It’s fun to listen occasionally to the songs you did a while back, but focus on the present, and on tomorrow.
  3. Don’t keep trying to fix old songs. One of the best ways to learn from older music is to turn the page and start writing new music. Old songs with problems can always be fixed, but more can be achieved by setting your sites on new music, on new projects.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter

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One Comment

  1. Excellent Post when I realised these same symptoms I started to re write

    and get somewhere, ReWriting is the only way to find some sort of success

    Songs rarely come out of us finished,,, Once you have the initial inspiration

    then the hard work begins

    Dont rush to show it to all of your peers , sleep on it and you will probably

    re write every line, far better than the original No kneed to rush let your

    subconscious help

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