๐Ÿ“‘ On Songwriting

Bookmarked On Songwriting: Open For Inspiration by dogtrax (dogtrax.edublogs.org)

This blogging reflection on writing a song might go nowheres, fast, as the song might go, too. Or the song might become a demo for some other project. Or I might like it all enough to make a recording with instrumentation.

Who knows. I donโ€™t.

Thatโ€™s one of the beautiful things of songwriting, though โ€” the slippery qualities that allow some songs to remain in the mix of regular playing and others, that just disappear.

Through a series of posts, Kevin Hodgson explores his process of songwriting. Starting from the initial experience of stumbling through an idea:

Processing through the mess of drafting and editing:

itโ€™s almost as if someone else is making up the song and I am just paying attention. I let myself wander. I trust my mind. Which is weird when youโ€™re in that moment. Yet itโ€™s powerfully interesting magic, too, as the writer in me is separated from the listener in me which is separated from the musician in me.

From the outside, itโ€™s a mess. For me, itโ€™s the thing, the process where everything is made visible to me as a songwriter.

All along with a whole different story going on in the margins. Then comes the initial demo, which is then stretched out and built on top of.

I found Hodgson’s idea of recording a ‘demo’ interesting.

Iโ€™m always anxious about my singing voice, which is one reason why I always am ready to call anything I record a โ€œdemoโ€ and cover myself from criticism (that I canโ€™t sing as well as I should be able to, given how many years Iโ€™ve been at this).

With technology as it is these days, it feels like the ‘demo’ is as much about mindset as anything else. I was interested in listening to The Story of 1999 podcast series and the way in which Prince recorded everything with a thought that it might be the take. He then covered up the bits that he did not want with explosions.

One of the things that intrigues me about taking a song from its core elements and building it out as the different journeys it can take. For example, in the documentary Class Albums: The Joshua Tree, Brian Eno threw around the faders on the mixing desk and demonstrated how the track (might have been Street with No Name, can’t quite remember) could have been a Depeche Mode song. This is one of the things that always interests me with the Song Exploder podcast.

In addition to such changes, in an age of so much abundance, there is also power in actually removing something.

I do think that all the work I did in polishing up the song in the production version in my, ahen, โ€œstudioโ€ (ie, corner of my room) was worth it โ€” it forced me to listen to the song closely, day after day, and to tweak the lyrics and timing of the voice, and all that planning and thinking and tinkering informed even this acoustic version, even though it very basic in nature.

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