Saturday, June 10, 2017

Why There's Not A Lot To Write About When Writing About Writing Songs

It's been over 6 months since I last posted a log (or would that be logged a post?) to this website, and I realize part of the reason is there's only so much to cover for the topic focus I've advertised on this Blog's  about page.  I am interested in writing songs, but I have never sought out other blogs where people who also like to write songs write about writing songs.  I don't really care how they do it or why they do it.  I know I like it, and I know how I do it, and I know why I like it, but I'm not sure others would be interested in any of this information. 

Occasionally, I like to write about my experiences with the craft.  I've expanded the subject matter to include recording music and trying to sell music.  I've also occasionally thrown in a review of recorded music I've purchased as a consumer or live music concerts I've attended and enjoyed.  Why anyone at all would care about what I think about any of these kinds of topics is beyond me.
Even so, I blog on without an audience.

For Starters, There's Not Much To Talk About Even When Asked in Conversation

If you can't think of much to say when asked about your experiences with the hobby/craft of songwriting and/or recording in person with people, then it's highly likely you won't be able to think of much to write about either.  Figuring out what people like to hear about is important, and that's what I'm hoping to get closer to by the end of this post.  What kind of music do you like?  That's always a fun conversation-starter, but as for songwriting, it's more of a chore.  That said, people do ask, and I do reply.

The Inevitable Questions

People who know I write and record songs ask about it from time to time.  They like to almost half-jokingly ask when the next release will be available.  They also ask if I still write and record, and whether or not I have any plans to perform live anywhere in front of an audience.  I had one relative ask for an additional copy of my Christmas covers CD recently. 

The Standard Replies

I always say yes, I still write songs, still record them, still release an album every two years on my birthday, still don't play live anywhere, still haven't sent a song to a famous artist for them to record yet...but that it remains a part of the fantasy.  Sometimes they leave it alone after my brief reply, but sometimes ask why I don't try to get one recorded, and then my reply to that is always that I haven't written one that is good enough yet.  Sometimes I go on to explain that even if I had a worthy song, I'd have to pay a lot of money to have pros record a proper demo of it in a real recording studio first before submitting it to artists, and I don't have the money.  Sometimes they say you should keep trying, sometimes they leave it alone and the conversation moves on to something totally unrelated.  When it does, I'm usually relieved.

Waning Interest

If my friends and family who do not write songs are satisfied with the above exchange, one might think fellow songwriters would want to talk about it longer, but that's not really the case either.  The few I've spoken with over the years are typically like me in that they've learned all they care to about the craft, and have settled in to a way they enjoy it, and don't particularly want to learn from hearing someone else's approach.  The interest wanes.  People who like boats, for example, can hang out and talk about boats for a long period of time and thoroughly enjoy it, as if they can't get enough of it.  Not so with songwriters, I've found.  Maybe it's common to any creative pursuit, or maybe it's the fact that it's typically a solitary pursuit.

Blog Awareness

So, I guess I'm typing my thoughts on the way to a conclusion here that even if I were to read up on and follow ways to increase the readership of a blog by targeting an audience of other songwriters, there may simply not be much interest.  As a musician and solo artist who releases albums, maybe the fans out there would want to read this.  I've read the autobiographies of Bob Dylan and Neil Young for example, because I was interested in their lives and how they came to be songwriters.  I suppose I would've been interested in knowing more about their approaches to writing songs if it had been in those books.  If they had blogs about their experiences with writing songs on their websites, I would read them.  It could be that there's simply not much information to share.  Neil says "wait for the muse to show up" and Bob remains mysterious about it as if he's been blessed from a higher power with the songs and as a result needs to tour a lot as a form of payback or gratitude.  Not much to go on there.  How one writes a great song is treated as somewhat of a trade secret or accident by most it would seem. 

Shifting Focus

So, my focus therefore should be more varied about me as a recording artist to appease those interested in me because they are fans and consumers who have bought my music and want to know more about the person who wrote and recorded the songs they liked and bought.  Rather than just talking about the songwriting part, that is.  Truth is, if you look back at the last few years of blog posts, I've already shifted the focus accordingly.  I exhausted all I knew about writing songs in just a few posts.

The Motivation

What gave me the idea is the story behind the song part that might wreck your interpretation, but might be really interesting, and if you want to know those, I provide them on the site.  So, one can't blog about what is essentially the same process for each song, and a paragraph or two explaining what motivated each song idea. 

You'll notice that from my albums page (, you can then click on an album to view links to subpages for each song.  From that starting point, select a song page and you'll see a paragraph or so explaining the "story behind the song" that I wrote about what I remembered happening when I wrote the song.  These may be interesting, or they may disappoint in the case that you'd already formed your own opinion of what the song meant to you when listening to it.  Fans derive their own meaning and envision what the writer's thought process might've been, and when learning what that writer was actually thinking about, may think less of the song as a result.

The Summary

If there are songs of mine you like, chances are the way I wrote them was not that exciting.  Likely I had a moment of inspiration for the main song idea, which brought about a chorus and title, and then I wrote verses that supported it by telling a bit of a story, and as I did this I made the number of lines in each verse match, and if there was a bridge it took a different perspective, and I probably looked up in an online rhyming dictionary a few of the rhymes.  Then I probably looked at the typed up song and read the lyrics back to myself in my head and a meter and dummy melody formed in my mind, and then from that I instinctively knew where the chord changes would be, then I picked a key good for my vocal range, and then possibly looked up on a chord family chart what chords were available in that key, then strummed a bit, and then sang while strumming, and then I had a song.  Usually if the idea was good, and the lyrics turned out well, and the singing of the melody was catchy, then there's a good song.  That's the songwriting process summary for me, and although there've been many an exception, there's not much else to say.  That's why this is a general solo artist blog, expanded to be about anything music-related, for anyone who likes me as an artist. 

The Mystery

The reason is that how a good song comes into existence has an indescribable element of magic to it.  Stars align, all cylinders simultaneously fire, and there's more pure accidental luck to it than craft.  There's only so much you can say about the happily automatic.  It's hit or miss, and if a few cylinders didn't fire, some sweat equity crafting might make up for it, but it's rare.  It's a mystery why and how good songs happen, but we music lovers are glad they do, and we know them when we hear them.  It's a matter of taste, and taste curation is what artists should be writing songs about, and what they should be blogging about too, I suppose.  Narrow focus is what the experts recommend to nail down what's appealing, but I'm too varied in what I write about and the style of songs I write to have a good shot at this type of thing.  I don't want to only write post-industrial shoe gaze alt-surf songs that are only about the things that type of music fan are into, let alone blog about the things that crowd are into, whatever those things may be.

Tales From The Road, Tales From The Studio, Causes

Famous major label artists and bands blog about their experiences on tour and recording albums in real recording studios that their fans apparently read.  I'm a fan of a lot of solo artists and bands, but I never seek out their blogs.  I don't really want to know about their adventures travelling from show to show or how their album is coming along, but that's just me.  I guess I don't care if they support certain causes either.  If they recommend music they like, however, I might be interested to know that.  Maybe I'll do more of that.  This blog post has allowed me to think harder about what might be interesting for people to read about, should I ever gain an audience for this blog.  If you're reading it, chances are my future blogs peaked your interest to read older posts, which means this blog post helped me focus on what you'd like and I gave it to you.  Hopefully, I've continued to do that with the music as well along the way.  Peace out, y'all.