Today, we’re talking songwriting.
If a song touches people, it will live beyond its years, perhaps become timeless. I aspire to create that kind of emotion in a three-minute rock ‘n roll song. Some of the great songwriters I admire, John Hiatt, Tom Petty, and The Beatles, set the bar, very high.
Selling a story in less time than it takes to write a Twitter post is a difficult task, as most musicians will attest. Every great song possesses a memorable hook, a melody you soon find yourself unconsciously humming, mixed with honest, heartfelt lyrics. I find simple chord progressions are best. When it comes to an unforgettable lyric, visual is the key; paint the picture for the listener. I've got four lines in a verse to suck you in, hold you captive until the chorus, so it better be killer.
Tom Petty’s, Even the Losers, is a four-line movie trailer.
Well, it was nearly all summer we sat on your roof
Yeah, we smoked cigarettes and we stared at the moon
And I'd show you stars you never could see
Baby, it couldn't have been that easy to forget about me
© Universal Music Publishing Group
I hear those lyrics and immediately I'm sittin’ rooftop.
When sMALLTIME collaborates on a song, it's all about the song, no ego's. In my youth, when I was less wise, shall I say, I would die on the hill to keep a bad song idea. These days, if your collaborators are not getting the gist of your soon to be chart-topping ditty, ditch it. Move on. You’ll know when it’s right. Nothing will feel forced, and the song will magically write itself.
Remember it’s not about your shreading guitar solo or how many cymbals you can pound in four counts…
It's all about the song, 'bout the song, no egos. Sorry Megan Trainor.
My two cents.
Just after writing this one of my songwriting heroes, Tom Petty, passed away. The world of music will be a lesser place without him.