Before you read I’d love to say ‘I’m expert in songwriting…’ :/
There are many, many great songwriters who I admire and have tried to glean some wisdom by simply listening to their songs.
I remember the very first song I wrote: it was called ‘Innocence’. I wrote it when I was 17 on a Yamaha PSR-300. What I can’t remember is how most of the song went (I do recall it was in ‘C’).
I was so pleased with my first original. For one, because I’d stepped out in expressing myself but also constructing something new. You know looking back, you see that ‘the best song I’ve ever written’ really wasn’t that great 😀
At the time there were quite a few songs written in succession. These songs were mostly inspired by worship groups I was listening to at the time. They were simple, slow songs but I really enjoyed the process of songwriting.
Around that time a friend had helped me understand rhythm on the acoustic guitar. Up until that point I had only really played piano. With my new guitarist ‘skill’ songs with a different feel came about.
If you’ve seen me play in church or in Alpha Tide you’ve probably seen me on the guitar but piano is my first instrument. I’ve found different kinds of songs come out from different kinds of instruments.
But.. How Do you Write a Song?
You know what… I don’t know! Although I’ve written around 200 songs (well… 200 songs I’m OK with as there are plenty more that are awful), I still can’t give a definitive way of writing songs.
I subscribe to the Noel Gallagher philosophy on songwriting that you ‘only write what’s in your record collection.’ The late Kurt Cobain had also claimed to have the same inspiration.
When I really began to discover bands and singers, a massive wave of inspiration hit me and it felt like I was writing all the time. Hearing amazing concepts and sounds from U2, the Foo Fighters, the Who, the Rolling Stones and the Goo Goo Dolls (and many more) really fired me up and songs were appearing all over the place.
Sometimes a page of lyrics would just appear and I’d sit messing around with chords until something fit (and sometimes it didn’t fit) or a fun chord sequence would lead to a cool melody.
A lot of the time nowadays I write a line on the notes section of my phone (Shiny Shoes was written entirely on a Sony Ericsson over the space of a month on the way to and from work).
I’ve found personally I haven’t one way of writing a song. A lot of the time a great idea just doesn’t form or a great page of lyrics just doesn’t find a melody.
Sadly this happens quite a bit but when it does form; it’s like a solar eclipse -it’s beautiful and wonderful.
Have I written a song that could be a classic? Quite possibly. How does a song ‘blow up’ and become amazing? I don’t know but it makes me wonder how many songs exist that could be ‘up there’ but because they are only played in a bedroom they’re never heard.
The first song I wrote that I thought was really good was called ‘Don’t Go Away’ and slowly after that I kept going I now have many self-penned songs I love! (See our lyrics here).
Although I’m not a huge fan of his music, Ed Sheeran said something very wise about songwriting: just keep doing it.
Mr. ‘Castle on the Hill’ said that songwriting is like pumping at a new well. At first it just produces a lot of rubbish and the water is brown. The more you pump, the good fresh water that is amazing will flow. You might occasionally get some more rubbish but more and more you’ll get better water.
Let your songwriting be like that if you want to get better: just keep doing it.