Lately I've been getting a lot of people asking about my songwriting process so I figured i’d give an example to show that theres really no secret to the way I write music.
Sweetheart is my debut single, as a solo artist, and heres a bit of the story of how the song came together.
It was a not so special night in our South Surrey townhouse, and I was feeling very depressed. Sad. Lonely. Missing Lilee-Jean. I needed a distraction and I remembered I had PVR’d “Garth Live from Las Vegas”. I headed down to my poorly heated garage ‘man-cave’ to be on my own with beer, and Garth Brooks. I grew up listening to Garth thanks to my parents great musical tastes. He’s always been one of my idols so I grabbed my guitar and started strumming along. Needless to say as the show came to an end I was inspired to write. One 6-pack down and another one started might also have had something to do with it.
So there's the first step to MY songwriting process, inspiration! Get yourself inspired. Listen to some great music. Watch a documentary or live concert on Netflix. Go for a hike. Meditate. Whatever!
Next step, what to write about? For ‘Sweetheart’ this was obviously an easy step for me. I had just lost my daughter to cancer. I desperately wanted to reach out and hold her. Talk to her. Tell her I love her and miss her. Lilee-Jean has been the centre of a few songs I’ve written recently, and i’m sure there will be a many more.
Think of an event, recent or not, or a subject in your life that has meaning to you and let yourself be surrounded by all the emotions, feelings, actions, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and everything about the event/subject that makes it stand out to you. This is what you should write about! Its meaningful, so you should have no shortage of subject matter to pull from.
Now, if you play a musical instrument, great! If not, who cares. You can still write a song. We can all hum the tune ‘Mary had a little lamb’. What you were just humming is the melody of the song. The words are the lyrics. Even without a guitar or piano etc to write with you can put your lyrics down on paper, and write a melody for them. I’m no expert but my advice would simply be trial and error. Once you have some lyrics down, just trying singing them! I would make sure you’re alone, and out of ear shot of anyone. This was you can go after it with complete and reckless abandon. I sincerely believe everyone has the potential inside them to do this. People who say they can’t, are just too scared, nervous, or shy, to try.
If you DO play a musical instrument there are a few different ways you can go. Try playing a few chords/notes until you find something that you think captures the emotion of your subject/event. Then write some lyrics and a melody over-top of that! OR, write some lyrics and a melody and THEN find the chords/notes that fit your melody. This is the old ‘chicken vs egg’ debate. It really doesn’t matter what comes first as long as you end up with a song!
‘Sweetheart’ started out with 4 simple chords on my guitar and one lyric… “i’ll always remember, the start of September, and the rainy day that it ended”.
Now you say “Well how did you come up with those chords? And how did you find the melody??”
There are only so many chords, and a few main ‘Chord Progressions’ that sound really nice together. Its not too hard to figure that part out. As for the melody, it literally popped into my head and I hope it does the same for you. Maybe i’m lucky and this comes easier to me then some but i’m sure it has something to do with being around music ALOT.
So I played those 4 chords over and over. Mumbled words and hummed melodies that might work. I Did my best to just make lyrics up on the spot as I played through and If I liked something I wrote it down. “When I drink i’ll drink to you” was one of the next lines that came to me.. Ive always wondered why…lol.
The song came together pretty effortlessly. I credit that to writing about something I was very passionate and emotional about. Theres nothing I had to fabricate. It was all there very vivid in my memory.
‘Sweetheart’ turned out to be my message to LJ that I’m going to live my life for her, and never forget her or anything we experienced together.
There are many different ways to write songs. Of course there is no right or wrong way. This is the way I write most of my songs and it works! If writing music is something you’ve always wanted to do, TRY IT! Its helped me through a lot . Sometimes its just fun! Sometimes its therapy. I hope it can have the same effect for you.
If you want to check out the tune, here is the lyric video from youtube. If you enjoy it and want to support independent music, you can download it from iTunes, Amazon etc. If you want to help even more you can call and request it at your local radio stations!
Thanks a million!