By Sass Jordan, The Lowry Agency Artist
Writing songs is one of the main reasons I wanted to be a singer in the first place. I have ALWAYS had a lot to say, and what better way to say it than in a song? The thing that many people don’t realize is that writing songs is a skill, and needs to be developed as such. My first attempts were so clumsy in their construction as to be laughable from my current viewpoint – but we have to start somewhere! Some of the most magnificently skilled writers live and work in Nashville, Tn – and that is where I have had some fantastic writing experiences.
A song has to be written with a form in mind. There are myriad forms, many of which you will be familiar with, but only a couple of which you will find any resonance with. The particular genres that interest me, for example, are country rock, americana roots, hybrid and blues rock. I can write in the pop genre, but I’m only marginally good at it, mainly because it’s not as interesting to me as an artist/performer. I can hugely appreciate a good pop song, but I’m not that skilled at the craft. Look at people like Max Martin and the infinite genius of Tears For Fears – yes, Pure Pop for Now People indeed!
Are you targeting a specific goal, such as a particular radio format? You’ll have to study the way the majority of the songs that play on those stations are constructed.For example, listen to the songs of a band like Nickelback … it’s a certain style that they use in the structure and the songs are hugely crafted by the production approach. It’s shared by other bands like Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman, Default, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Hinder and Breaking Benjamin, to name just a few. They all have their roots in the ’90’s to me .. coming out of Seattle’s Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, but with more of a pop sensibility.
Lyrically, it’s tricky to walk the line between cornball, conceit, confusion and just plain crap. A great lyricist is a god, as far as I am concerned. One of my favorite things is to try to find ways to use cliches with a twist. A master of this approach would be someone like Elvis Costello, or Joni Mitchell. One of the most erudite songwriters ever, Joni is a master of painting the soundscape with words – her, Robbie Robertson, and John Forte, the story-tellers, among a great many others …
Songwriting, like song – listening, is so personal, and so powerful. Writing a song that touches many people is possibly one of the most wonderful achievements you can have as a musician and performer. It’s a gift … use it well. And thank you, from your potential audience…. me.