I don’t mean when you’re listening to a song. But the song you’re writing?
These days I find myself often starting a song with a few lines that feel like they really hit home. But then I’m not very sure what the whole song is about.
I remember reading an interview with Iain Archer, my friend who co-wrote Hold Back the River with James Bay.
They were talking about writing the song and Iain said ‘we just had to work out where the song wanted to go’.
I like that approach! I guess you’re saying that the song is somehow already in existence and it’s the job of the writer to discover it rather than just to make it up.
That means you are trying to take away the barriers to discovering something that is writing itself, rather than simply trying to string words together that sound like a song.
I find that when I do that the songs end up having more meaning and value. Your task is to discover the essence of the song and then find the lyrics that express the essence.
Okay that sounds a bit hippy! But the more I read about song writers and about the songs that have stood the test of time, the writer often has had the experience that the song was writing itself inside them. They even dreamt it the night before, like Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday”.
I suppose that means great songwriting also needs people to believe in themselves, not necessarily as simply composers, but as people who were born to generate.