I don’t know if songwriting is a skill or a talent. I tend to think of it as the latter but for society’s sake, I hope it’s the former. That is, something that anybody can pick up with a little instruction and practice. Songwriting is such a wonderful experience. So rewarding, so artistic, so cathartic, so….needed. So when I think of it as a talent that only a few are gifted with, it seems unfair to those those who are missing out.

So here’s my small attempt to let anybody experience the magic of songwriting…I’m going to attempt to break it down into a skill. And I’ll do it by trying to concretely describe how I write my songs.

For starters, you need inspiration. Whatever moves you. The girl, the world…anything. Sometimes just coming up with a title for a song gets the creative juices flowing. This happened to me with my newest song. I thought “Thieves” would make a good title and ran with it.

Then maybe decide how you’re going to approach the songwriting. Are you going to recount the story as a narrative(e.g. Boy Named Sue) or express it poetically and abstractly(e.g. Blowin’ in the Wind)? That’ll get you going on lyrics. And remember, lyrics don’t always have to rhyme.

Next up, melody. If you can hum or whistle, you can invent a melody. My only advice in this department? Make sure it’s not predictable. Melodies are like written sentences. Don’t write the melodious equivalent of “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Finally the accompaniment. Unfortunately this does require you to know how to play some kind of instrument that can do chords. My weapon of choice is the guitar. Piano’s a good one too. To be honest, I’ll often start with the accompaniment(the chord progression) but I didn’t want to turn people off who can’t play an instrument.

And that’s pretty how to write a song. Sure there’s song structure, instrumentation, phrasing, time signatures, rhyming pattern, harmonies, backup singers, tempo, percussion, samples, extended drum solos, weird Coldplay falsettos and mid-song raps to consider, but that’s pretty much the gist of it. At least for Blue Blue Satellite. And if all else fails…steal steal steal. But not from my songs.

Blue Blue Satellite

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