Writing songs: hook, line and sinker, part 1

Los Angeles, November 2007. I am sitting in a conference room near Los Angeles International Airport, with 2,000 other songwriters. I can either feel overwhelmed like a little fish in a very big pond, or I can just dive in and enjoy the wash of thousands of like minds. I choose to do the latter.

Michael Laskow gets up to preach music. People are all ears. What are the secrets to great songwriting success? Well, rule number 1, says Michael, is that nobody is born a great songwriter. You become one over time, though sustained effort and lots of practice. I breathe a sigh of relief, because I am not a natural born songwriter. I take comfort knowing that there is no such thing.

Fast forward a few years. I am reading an article on John Williams, author of the memorable themes for Superman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park, and in my opinion the closest thing we have to a modern-day Mozart. He admits that writing music is that 99% perspiration often spoken about in creative circles. Again, I am relieved.

So in my twenty-something years as a songwriter, what, aside from hard work, makes a good songwriter in my opinion? Whenever I teach a songwriting course, I always using a fishing analogy (and I am not much of a fisherman). You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “He fell for it hook, line and sinker.” Hits are pretty much the same thing: people “fall” for the music, and like singing, there is a science to it (though I agree with many of my colleagues that no computer can ever write a song – well, not at this point in our development).

Read the next blog to know more about the simple 3-part recipe for songwriting.

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