Band Improvising

Overcoming Songwriting Paralysis: Improvising Your Way Through the Tough Times

Every songwriter experiences “feeling stuck”. You get a good idea for a new song, but then you just don’t know where it should go from there. There is an expression — and you hear it a lot in the creative arts — that applies here: paralysis by analysis (or analysis paralysis). If you like starting songs by […]

guitarist - songwriter

Songwriting, and Mastering the Short Musical Journey

Symphonies and operas are probably the longest complete works in our musical history. By the time you get to the end of the Romantic era (i.e., the end of the 19th century), a typical symphony (or symphony-like work) could be over an hour long. By contrast, songs in the pop genres (pop, country, rock, etc.) […]

Lenny Kravitz

When Simplicity Rocks: Lenny Kravitz and “Fly Away”

Twenty-one years ago Lenny Kravitz released “Fly Away“, the fourth single from his fifth studio album, ‘5‘. If you’re not sure you know the song, you’ve likely heard it as the soundtrack for travel agencies, car companies and more, like this Nissan commercial from 2011. If you’re ready to study — to learn why a great song […]

songwriter - guitarist

The Rarity of the Fully-Formed Song

There’s probably nothing like the excitement you feel when you get an entire song appearing, more or less fully-formed, in your brain all at once. Forget improvising, experimenting or jamming… you just wake up, and there it is! There are songwriters who claim to have had songs appear fully-formed in their minds. Paul McCartney’s description […]

Sam Cooke

Coming Up With Fresh Song Topics When You’re Out of Ideas

Deciding what your next song could or should be about can stop your creative process in its tracks if you let it. You’ll be happy to know that great songs don’t need to be profound. True, some of the songs we acknowledge as being the greatest ones are about deep, philosophical/social issues: “Like a Rolling […]

Eric Church

Creating Expectation in a Song Lyric

Lately I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about musical momentum… that quality that keeps people listening to a song. Without it, songs would just be one nice sound following another nice sound, and though it may seem strange to say, that’s not enough to keep people listening. There’s a sense of expectation that keeps people […]