Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire

Allowing Listeners to Create a Story With Your Song

Just this morning I went to YouTube and listened to Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” Such a powerful song, and I don’t think I had ever seen the official video before, which includes a short dramatization of Springsteen as a car mechanic being asked to repair a car by a woman we never actually see, other […]

Singer-Songwriter

How Good Songwriters Listen to Music

As an unofficial “student of songwriting,” you’re curious. You’re not content to just enjoy music — you want to know why some songs sound great, and then you want to apply what you learn to make your own songs sound great. Simply stated, if you aren’t curious, you aren’t a songwriter. If you’re ready to […]

Singer - Songwriter

The Best Song Lyrics Have Emotions That Arrive in Waves

Even if a song is about something emotional (love, deep friendship, death of a loved one, etc.), it doesn’t work so well to have that lyric be deeply emotional all the time. If all the audience hears is heart-wrenching feelings from beginning to end, it starts to dull its own effect. It’s far better to have […]

Sad songs

Writing Sad Songs (and Why You’d Want To Do That)

There is research out there that tells us that people like listening to sad music. It doesn’t necessarily bring them down, and in fact can have an opposite, buoyant effect. That’s because as listeners, we want to feel something, and as long as whatever the sad song is about isn’t describing our own state of affairs […]

Guitar and paper for songwriting

When You’re Stuck Trying to Come Up With a Good Song Topic

Brainstorming is a great mental exercise in the creative arts. Brainstorming requires you to think quickly and to minimize judgment. When you work this way, your process is being fuelled by pure imagination, and that’s when you get to see what the inner workings of your creative brain can come up with. If you find […]

songwriter

The Advantages of a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process

In my last post, “Finding Your Best Starting Point”, I offered suggestions for how to build a songwriting process when you’ve got a small fragment of music as your starting point. One of those fragments might be a bit of lyric. For many songwriters, starting the process with lyrics can yield great results. There are […]