Songwriting Inspiration

Four Ways to Make a Song More Memorable

A number of years ago Paul McCartney was asked in an interview about writing songs, and particularly, “What if you can’t remember what you came up with in your previous songwriting session?” McCartney’s answer was something like, “Well, John and I thought that if we couldn’t remember it, it probably wasn’t very good in the […]

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, […]

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 […]

Derek & the Dominos - Layla

How Many Unique Elements Make a Good Song Tune?

Pop songs are typically 3 or 4 minutes in length. And because this is not a long bit of time we’re talking about, it can be a problem if you put too many ideas together when you write that song. Think of it as a kind of musical “economy.” You’ll use one melody for the […]

Tom Petty

How Making a Line Drawing of Your Melody Makes It Better

The best song melodies are the ones that have a definable shape. You may not have ever thought of a melody in terms of its shape, but all that means is that good melodies: use recognizable, memorable patterns, and… can be described generally when it comes to its overall design. Let’s look at those two […]

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 […]