I Hope You Dance with Walk Away Joe in The House That Built Me
I don’t like “how to” books for writing songs and this post isn’t a small version of that, it’s just an observation from having ten too many writers try to book 3 hour writes with me. There is writing-songs and there is writing-records and the people in Nashville do both about as good as it can be done. I’m one of those, “the-song-is-smarter-than-me-guys”, that believe if you give the idea some space, some breathing room, that it will fall down on you, one slow drop at a time or in a flood too fast to type. Because of that I give it all day, like….a whole day. No half day writes for me if I can possibly help it. I teach this to my developing writers as well. I don’t want them showing up at 10am, and then watching the clock between thoughts because they have to bail out’a there at 1:15 to hit Fido’s on the way to their 2pm write, or showing up at 2pm, exhausted and spent from the earlier write that probably could’ve gone better, given more time. I’d rather them turn in (5) five great, amazingly written songs that matter, than (75) seventy-five ranging from really good to average even if they do become big hit singles of highly average songs, or worse….badly and lazily written songs. Again, there are songwriters and there are record-writers and I guess we need them both.
I’ve noticed that speed writing often results in past, present and future tenses getting mismatched and suffixes that, had they been added or eliminated, would’ve kept the train of thought on the right track but wouldn’t have served the rhyme or near-rhyme so “meaning” gets thrown out the door because, “they’ll know what we mean!”
Hitting the broad side of a barn with 12 gauge buckshot is not the wrong way to do it if that’s all your aiming at. But, if you’re trying to plug a dogwood knothole 75 yards on the other side of the barn between two loose boards and a broken feed stall window….even if you miss, it’s making you a better songwriter one long & full day at a time.
p.s. I had at least 20 other songs great enough to be in the title of this post…just sayin’.