What's the hardest part of songwriting for YOU?

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
11,511
Location
Augusta, Maine
The upside is, you can't know that answer until you put it out there where someone else can listen to it; sneak it in, then give the songwriting credit to a stage name you make up.
I think part of the problem is that we think that what we write has to be as good as the best stuff others have written, that we like most to listen to- or it's "no good".
It's kind of the Nick Drake syndrome. Why kill yourself because folks don't love your songs? Chances are you won't love their songs, either,. Just do what you do and don't worry about what people think.

Like you, I never take credit for songs when I perform them, and I don't let anyone else give me credit, either. I can't function unless I take my ego out of the equation. The songs aren't about me. They're about themselves. The day they start to be about me, they'll start to suck, and I'll sell all my gear and take up selling vacuum cleaners, which at least are supposed to suck.

Just lost a songwriting competition, by the way. A relief, though I would've loved the prize money. More good news is that the song I entered was better than the three ego-drenched winning songs. A lot better.
 

acousticnitemare

Tele-Meister
Joined
Oct 25, 2022
Posts
151
Location
hiplanes
It's kind of the Nick Drake syndrome. Why kill yourself because folks don't love your songs? Chances are you won't love their songs, either,. Just do what you do and don't worry about what people think.

Like you, I never take credit for songs when I perform them, and I don't let anyone else give me credit, either. I can't function unless I take my ego out of the equation. The songs aren't about me. They're about themselves. The day they start to be about me, they'll start to suck, and I'll sell all my gear and take up selling vacuum cleaners, which at least are supposed to suck.

Just lost a songwriting competition, by the way. A relief, though I would've loved the prize money. More good news is that the song I entered was better than the three ego-drenched winning songs. A lot better.
Far out! Good for you... you do have to believe in yourself, at the same time.
"They're about themselves."
I agree a hundred percent. :)
 

swarfrat

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Posts
666
Location
.
Remembering last night's hooky stuff I was coming up with. I've tried recording stuff but then I just have hours of junk to wade through.
 

mountainhick

Tele-Holic
Joined
May 2, 2021
Posts
643
Location
Rocky Mountains
You might call it a problem... It is not problem to me: Having no desire to write songs

I've always related to melody harmony and rhythm, and sure, some catchy lyrics are cool, but I never related to lyrics in my own playing/musicality. So I don't really care about writing songs in that sense.

I do like to improv chord changes and improvise over them, and use substitutions and alterations on the fly in a jazz type context (Also over blues etc). I guess you could call it songwriting, but to me it's just playing music. Sometimes I come up with great catchy things only to lose/forget them immediately after playing them, so I guess the "problem" there is memory/recall.
 

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
11,511
Location
Augusta, Maine
Remembering last night's hooky stuff I was coming up with. I've tried recording stuff but then I just have hours of junk to wade through.
It can bug you if you let it. But there's always plenty more where that came from. So you don't need to try to hold onto things. Let it go. Whatever you come up with when you actually sit down to write will be just as good. And often better.
 

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
11,511
Location
Augusta, Maine
Lyrics. If they don’t come in the first hour, it’s a chore.
That's for sure. And if it's not fun, what's the point, right?

One possible solution: Just write it all down fast, even if it's cliched or inelegant or pure filler nonsense, then go back and take your time fixing it up.

And in the meantime, you can come up with other songs. I've written as many as five a day that way. (Could've written more if I were ambitious.) None were gig-ready, but they were all things I could work on develop at my own pace.
 

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
11,511
Location
Augusta, Maine
You might call it a problem... It is not problem to me: Having no desire to write songs

I've always related to melody harmony and rhythm, and sure, some catchy lyrics are cool, but I never related to lyrics in my own playing/musicality. So I don't really care about writing songs in that sense.

I do like to improv chord changes and improvise over them, and use substitutions and alterations on the fly in a jazz type context (Also over blues etc). I guess you could call it songwriting, but to me it's just playing music. Sometimes I come up with great catchy things only to lose/forget them immediately after playing them, so I guess the "problem" there is memory/recall.
I agree, it's not a problem at all. Most guitarists I know have no interest in songwriting. Keep on pluckin'!
 

swarfrat

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Posts
666
Location
.
The thought has occurred to me, though it has so far failed to assuage my fears, that if it's truly memorable, I will in fact you know... Remember it.
 

JustABluesGuy

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Sep 2, 2016
Posts
4,275
Location
Somewhere
For me it's getting past that glowing self-satisfaction of the intro/first verse/pre-chorus/chorus/hook. I'll often take a "that's enough for now" break. Then finish it up to 20 years later, lol.
You sound like a couple of my buddies. They used to write songs that were chorus, chorus, chorus. No intros, verses, bridges, dynamics, etc..

Just a catchy chorus and then they would try to write another chorus. They have gotten a bit better fortunately. One of them still does simple two chord vamps, more than actual progressions.
 

blowtorch

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
May 2, 2003
Posts
42,141
Location
Wisco
lately for me, it's coming up with subject matter that I've not already covered
I mean, drinkin, werewolves, motorcycles, girls...
what else IS there

I do keep a running list of words/phrases meant to inspire those things, and that currently includes "ghettoblaster" "ruins of the druids" and "backseat redemption"

i should probably get busy
 
Last edited:

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
11,511
Location
Augusta, Maine
lately for me, it's coming up with subject matter that I've not already covered
I mean, drinkin, werewolves, motorcycles, girls...
what else IS there . . . .
I'll never run out of drinking songs. And I get lots of mileage out of drugs, betrayal, death, food, theft, God, trucks, trains, guilt, adultery, poverty, and highways.

Haven't tried werewolves, yet, though! Ow-WOOOOO! . . .
 

swarfrat

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Posts
666
Location
.
I'll add: once a song starts to grow legs .. taking it in a different direction seems so steenkin hard.

Right now I have this motif that repeats with some modulations. It's catchy but not what I want. Part of me says this is stupid to play the same thing every where and part of me says "and this is different from sawing away at strumming patterns how?" If I did that it'd be fine.(and it'd be a lot easier than trying to sing over intricate guitar parts).
 

Charlie Bernstein

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Posts
11,511
Location
Augusta, Maine
I'll add: once a song starts to grow legs .. taking it in a different direction seems so steenkin hard.

Right now I have this motif that repeats with some modulations. It's catchy but not what I want. Part of me says this is stupid to play the same thing every where and part of me says "and this is different from sawing away at strumming patterns how?" If I did that it'd be fine.(and it'd be a lot easier than trying to sing over intricate guitar parts).
Yeah, that can drive you nuts.

Just to cut yourself some slack, keep in mind that circular tunes can be great as long as you don't do it all the time. Pachebel's Canon, Ravel's Bolero, Maggot Brain, The Song That Never Ends, All Along the Watchtower, Hit the Road, Jack, Smokestack Lightnin' — they're all entertaining and durable, not in spite of but because of their dynamic monotony.

Coincidentally, I came up with a progression last night that I like without choruses, bridges, or even words:

| Am G | Em F | Em F | G E7 | over and over all night long. Can't wait to start layering it.

The song will tell you if it wants more. If it doesn't, forcing it can just be frustrating and disheartening. Listen to the song. It knows what it wants you to do.
 




Top