For every song you know, you likely can name a favourite part — something specific about that song you really like. Sometimes, it may just be a single word, and the way the singer performs it. It might be a specific line in a guitar solo, or even just one note in that solo.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, think about the perennial Christmas favourite “O Holy Night”, and how people just love waiting for that climactic high note near the end: “O night, di-VINE!”
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Or maybe it’s that iconic scream at the end of the instrumental in the middle of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Or Phil Collins’ drum fill in “In the Air Tonight.”
Most of what you’ll identify are performance/production level moments. But you can get the chills from great moments that are attributable to the actual notes of a performance, like perhaps the guitar solos near the end of the second side of Abbey Road. Or the eventual arrival of the chorus in Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”.
The important point here is that beyond the strength of a song’s structure, a song’s melody, a song’s chord progression, a song’s lyric, a song needs a moment — a spot that excites the listener – a WOW moment.
And your songs need those kind of moments too.
It’s a great songwriter’s exercise, once you’ve finished a song, to record it and then listen like a typical audience member. And in listening, ask yourself, “Does my song have a WOW moment?”
For every song, that kind of moment will be different. The moment might be subtle, hardly noticeable. It might just be the way a certain line moves and hits a certain note. You may love a moment and not even know why.
But every good song has that kind of moment.
In your own songwriting, if you can’t listen to one of your own songs and say, “THAT’S my favourite moment”, your work on that song may not actually be done.
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