Neil Young

Neil Young, “Rockin’ In the Free World”: Why It Works

“Rockin’ in the Free World” is one of Neil Young’s most popular songs. It’s number 216 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Every time I ever do a “Why It Works” analysis of a song on this blog, you’ll see me mentioning some aspect of the simplicity of design as a positive feature, […]

Rush

Considering the Note Your Melody Starts On

How much thought do you give to the note you choose to start your song melodies on? It may seem trivial because from that first note you can move in any direction you want, and so it may not feel as though it matters a whole lot, once you’re a few notes in. But I […]

guitarist - songwriter

The Use of Chord Inversions in Pop Songwriting

An inverted chord is one in which the lowest-sounding note of the chord at any given moment is not the root of the chord. Inversions have a subtle way of manipulating the mood that a particular chord conveys, and can be a really great tool for songwriters looking to make their chord choices sound more sophisticated. […]

Keyboard and Headphones

Songwriting Simplicity is Good; Mindlessness Not So Much

If you ask someone my age (a child of the 1960s, a teen of the 1970s) what they think of today’s pop music, you’ll probably get an earful. Most negative opinions of today’s music will come down to the fact that songs today seem uninspiring, noisy and mindless. “The melodies aren’t interesting”; “The chords are […]

Simon & Garfunkel

Writing a Rock Anthem – The Important Characteristics

It’s hard to define what a rock anthem is. It’s the sort of song form that you recognize when you hear it, though. The most important quality of an anthem is probably universality: the notion that everyone could join in and sing the chorus together, and feel a sense of camaraderie and celebration for doing […]