What's the hardest part of songwriting for YOU?

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
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I'll go first: Learning them! (I had to take high school Spanish I three times because I couldn't remember the vocabulary. Times tables? Forget it — literally.)

I've always envied those Brill Building types who could just write 'em up and toss 'em out there for someone else to record and perform. These days it's all up to us.

I'm celebrating because I just sang a ten-year-old song all the way through without forgetting any of it for the first time.

It's a long one, so I've been avoiding it forever. But my wife likes it, so I finally sat down last week to learn it, and after a few dozen practice sessions, I finally got through the whole thing (slowly!) without a stumble or a pause.

It'll be a few days of errors before I get it right again, but after that it'll happen more and more often, until I can get it right more often than not. By then I'll be putting some feeling in it, too, and it'll be pub-gig-ready.

So how about you? What do you struggle with? (If you don't struggle with anything, don't answer. It'll just depress the rest of us.)
 
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Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
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Posts
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Location
Augusta, Maine
I wonder whether the stuff that I wrote are actually of my own or some other music that I heard years ago (or even a week ago) and my brain is just regurgitating them as if they were my own.
We're all magpies — Heckle and Jeckle stealing stuff to build our nests with.

So, yeah, you're appropriating, liberating, ripping off. But it's all stuff someone else ripped off from someone else.

You're hereby acquitted by a jury of your peerless peers.
 

Old Plank

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Lyrics ... having good ideas for a chorus, or a verse or two, and then trying to bring it all to a satisfying completion. Like maybe others here who have grown up with a love of the great songwriters of the last 50-60 years, I think I hold myself to a higher standard than is realistic for a mere mortal, and get all frustrated with it.
 

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
11,519
Location
Augusta, Maine
Lyrics ... having good ideas for a chorus, or a verse or two, and then trying to bring it all to a satisfying completion. Like maybe others here who have grown up with a love of the great songwriters of the last 50-60 years, I think I hold myself to a higher standard than is realistic for a mere mortal, and get all frustrated with it.
Ugh. The bar just keeps getting higher, doesn't it? Like, who wants to write a love song after Aretha, the Beatles, Carole King, and Smokey Robinson?

Or a rocker after the Stones, the Who, and Hendrix? Or great instrumental parts after Garcia, Knofler, or Vince Gill?

I feel ya!

I quit playing for almost a year when I was about twenty and realized I'd never be a great musician. But I missed picking up my guitar. So I said, hell with everyone else. I'm doing it because, good or bad, it's what I do. Love me, love my music. We're a package deal.
 

drewg

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West of the mountains...
Finishing them. When I say ‘finish’ I just mean write all the lyrics and chords; I don’t mean every track for different instruments. And I don’t mean recording, that’s another step. I just mean play from start to finish. It’s mostly just rhythm guitar and voice, although sometimes with a lead part, too and bass line.

But I can’t tell you how many songs I have almost finished – 90% – but need just one more verse or even half verse and I just don’t finish them.

Same with house projects…
 

redhouse_ca

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Lyrics. I find them impossible to write. I always can come up with music. Riff, changes, melody. But I draw a blank when it comes to lyrics. I need my own personal Bernie Taupin.
I'm a pretty big Wilco fan (especially Nils Klein era) and I love a lot of Tweedy's songs but sometimes the lyrics are so nonsensical that I feel like he's just randomly cutting and pasting in words the way William Burroughs used to. Anyhow, than I got his book on How To Write One Song, and that it turns out that's exactly what he does. Then I thought about it and I realized there are a lot of great songs with lyrics that don't really make literal sense but when combined with the music, they capture some essence of something that leaves space for the listener to impute their own interpretation (a lot of Bowie songs are like that - there are phrases that just say so much but stripped from the music they are pretty obtuse). I have to admit, learning how to do this has helped me work through a lot of blocks and the results are sometimes pretty cool.
 

c4ntaro_sinf0nico

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Melody.

It's pretty easy to make a good beat or chord progression that sounds good.

Nowadays, it's really hard to compose a good lead melodic line that works well with the rest of the stuff and, even more, be clearly identifiable (i. e. it does not sound like anything else).

Things get even worse if you want to compose two or more simultaneous melodic lines in counterpoint.
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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Canaduh
Melody.

It's pretty easy to make a good beat or chord progression that sounds good.

Nowadays, it's really hard to compose a good lead melodic line that works well with the rest of the stuff and, even more, be clearly identifiable (i. e. it does not sound like anything else).

Things get even worse if you want to compose two or more simultaneous melodic lines in counterpoint.
I hear that. With 12 notes to work with I worry about that a lot.
 

chulaivet1966

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The Heartland.....Kansas
So how about you? What do you struggle with?
Howdy....

For me....coming up with the subject of the song.
Then it's staying with this stream of consciousness until it's done.
Once I decide on an interesting, non-cliche subject I can confidently flesh out the lyrics/arrangement in a few days to a week.
Rhythm section I can nail down a couple days later.
Then....time to face the RED LIGHT.

Actually finishing a song is very important to me....so, I don't have any unfinished songs....so far, that is.

Back to it....have a great day.
 




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