Four Secrets to Writing Great Songs

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Learning to Write Great Songs

This is a book about writing songs, but not just any kind of songs. This is a book that will help you write the kind of songs that give you that almost magical power: the power to have a real impact on other people. A good song makes you a force in other people’s lives. It gives you the power to make people happy, to make people dance-maybe even the power to change people’s lives for the better. (All of this while allowing you to express yourself. Such a deal!) If you haven’t experienced this, rest assured that you can, no matter what your background or skill level happens to be.

But wait, you may be saying-I just want to write a hit! Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s a goal shared by just about every songwriter. But having a hit starts with writing songs that knock other people out. Make that your first goal; after you accomplish that, you can turn your focus to having hits.

So how do we begin? As you’ve probably noticed, this book is divided into several large sections, starting with this section, Reaching Your Audience. While some teachers would simply jump in and start talking about how to write hooks or the importance of putting pictures in your lyrics, we’re going to start by setting up the ground rules that explain the reason for all those other things.

This section, Reaching Your Audience, is all about the big issues: Are creative processes really “magical?” What are we really trying to accomplish when we write a song? Do songwriters have some special ability the rest of us don’t? Why do people get pleasure from listening to a song? What does the listener want from your song? What do you want from the listener? And how can you use all this information to make your songs terrific?

We can begin to find the answers to these questions by asking a very straightforward ­ but important ­ question: just how hard or easy is it to write a song?

Songwriting: Blessed Tidbits from the Ether, or
Outlet for the Mentally Deficient?

Whatever your reason for wanting to be a songwriter, you’ve probably wondered whether you have what it takes to write great songs. Do you have enough talent? Are you smart enough, or dumb enough (depending on your perspective), or hip enough? Are there special skills or some kind of innate talent that you have to have, or is this really as easy as falling off a log?

I’ve spoken to many people about songwriting over the years, and I find that (not counting the people who are already serious songwriters) most people believe one of the following two things:

A) Songwriting is a magical skill that some people are born with. There’s no way you can learn to do it ­ you either have the knack for creating great melodies and coming up with great ideas and words, or you don’t.