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This Songwriter’s Secret – How I Wrote Over 1,000 Songs

This Songwriter’s Secret – How I Wrote Over 1,000 Songs

Who knows how songs get written. Sometimes the song comes from a dream, sometimes from a remark that someone makes, sometimes from an event. At any rate songs come from somewhere. I found a way to connect to the source of songs. For me a process began with my very first song at age eleven. I have used the same process for over forty years. I do not know if this process will work for others, but it has never failed me.

First I get my attitude right. This has nothing to do with being confident or positive. You can be very negative and write good music. What I do is tell myself that I am no more than a vessel. I try and become the perfect witness to the process. I do not believe the songwriter should be the judge of the end product. I would have canned at least half of the songs I have written if that were the case for me. Let others judge the value of the song. But remember that judgement is influenced by their life history. So I do not put much stock in their judgement either. I mean I like it when people like a song I wrote. But I am not bothered if they do not. At any rate just write the song and let the world take care of their part.

Next for me is always the absence of theme. I never sat down and intentionally wrote a song about a certain event or subject. I always felt that if I tried to write about something I was putting too much of my first attention in the deal. By first attention I am speaking of everyday consciousness. I promise I will not get too heavy into this. This is how it works for me. I could no more sit down and write a poem and try to make a song out of it then I could dunk a basketball. It just is not in my realm of reality.

So here is the process. I would sit down with a guitar and simply let my fingers do the walking. Always waiting for that time when a little lick or chord progression took over and refused to leave until I addressed the fact that it was here to stay. If that lick never came I would change guitars. If nothing came from that then I would change strings on all the guitars and start over. I would do this until I had a little “diddy” to work with. Then I would play that thing over and over until a word or line came to the forefront. Then I would simply play that over and over until the song took place. Once it gets started it can not be stopped. I have nothing to really do with the process but the actual sitting down and playing and letting my mind wander. I seem to have a knack of letting my mind wander. I never forced a song. I have hundreds if not thousands of parts of songs that I refuse to go back and try and finish. For me a song has to finish itself.

Anyway that is how I do it. I really think the separation of myself as much as possible is the key. And at least that way I can always say, “Don’t blame me, I’m just the guitar player.”