Sad songs

How Emotion and Music Intersect

This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, and so I’ll state this up front, and then give you some additional thoughts: Good music is not meant to express emotion; good music IS meant to create emotion. I want to tell you a bit more about this. To say that a good song […]

Frustrated songwriter

Why The Rolling Stone List (or Any List) Doesn’t Really Matter

I’ve been reading all sorts of commentary, both civil and uncivil, about the latest incarnation of the Rolling Stones list of the 500 Best Songs of All Time, released this month. Predictably, most people have something negative to say about it all. If you’re one of the ones who takes issue with which songs are […]

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Using Melodic Direction to Act as Musical Glue

Though for the best part of my music career I analyze songs and pull them apart to better understand them, I’m just like any other consumer of music: I want to be entertained. That means when I listen to music, I’m not always critiquing. Sometimes, like you, I just want to sit back and enjoy what […]

Songwriting

Does It Matter In What Order Your Song Comes Together?

New songwriters can be forgiven for thinking that there must be a right way and a wrong way to assemble a song. When we talk about songwriting process, there tends to be a belief that you should start with a certain element of a song (the lyrics, or the chords, or perhaps the melody) and […]

James Taylor

Stealing (Not Stealing) Songs

A number of years ago I wrote a blog post called “Deliberately Sounding Like Your Songwriting Hero.” In it, I advocated pretending that you were your favourite songwriter, trying to write a song that would sound to everyone else that it was written by that person. The reason was a simple one: It would focus […]

Marvin Gaye

The Secret Power of the Melody: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”

The 1960s hit song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine“, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, was a Motown hit for several groups. Gladys Knight & the Pips released it in 1967, and it went to number 1 on the R&B Singles chart. You’re probably more familiar with the Marvin Gaye version, released in […]