Songwriting Tips: Don’t Force It

songwriter.jpgOne thing I often wish my band could do is write songs faster.  I frequently try to hurry the process along, but just because of the nature of our music, the process usually drags on a bit .  However, one lesson that we’ve learned recently is not to force it.   Over the past two years we have been working off and on with a song we all feel is one the best we’ve ever written (and probably has the most commercial appeal), but for some reason the first 1/3 of the song has stumped us all.  I would estimate we’ve tried about eight very different approaches to the beginning of the song which simply have not worked.  But instead of sprinting to the finish line with a song that not everyone was completely sure about, we let it marinate on the back burner, only returning to it when someone had a new idea.  Fortunately, in a recent rehearsal, an idea came up that we all instantly realized was what we were looking for.  Time and perspective do interesting things for a song.  Take the songs you’re not sure and play them live.  Record multiples versions and listen to them on your iPod (putting them in context with other songs you normally hear).  Let your friends/family hear them and give you their take.  You’ll notice that over time your songs will change and you can more easily see where the tune should go.  Leonard Cohen used to often state he spent a year on nearly every song – rushing a great song is sometimes the worst thing you can do.   

  • mandythompson

    If Leonard Cohen said it, then it must be true! :) Thanks for the tip… And the permission to let a song grow on its own.