Stevie Wonder

Creating Hooks in Pop Song Formats

For most songwriters, talking about “the hook” means talking about the chorus, at least the main part of the chorus melody that’s catchy and immediately identifiable. If someone asked you to sing the most identifiable part of Derek & the Dominos’ “Layla”, you’d start with the opening of the chorus (“Layla/ Got me on my […]

Microphone - Song melody

What Kind of Backing Vocals Are Right For Your Song?

How to write (or even if you should write) backing vocals is usually a step beyond songwriting. In other words, it’s usually something that comes under the heading of production more so than songwriting. These days, though, where technology has blurred the line between songwriting and production, you may find yourself thinking a lot about what to do about […]

Guitarist - Songwriter - Lyricist

A Lyric/Melody Checklist for Songwriters

All elements of a song need to support each other in order for it to be successful. There is no one aspect of a song that doesn’t need the others to reinforce what they’re trying to do. Lyrics and melodies represent an especially vital pairing. The notes a songwriter chooses for the melody can reinforce […]

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 […]