What is “Writer’s Block”?
On Patterns & Structure
The painter Chuck Close says, “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will – through work – bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have […]
Make Your Songs Count—Don’t Count Your Songs
Video: Blair talks about patterns and structure in songwriting I have rarely met a songwriter who loves to re-write or edit. Most songwriters I know love the moment of creation, when the ideas are flowing, when they’re feeling great about their songwriting genius. I have no quarrel with this at all, because I share that […]
Making the Familiar Fresh
I recently ran into a songwriter who told me proudly, “I’ve written over a thousand songs.” This writer is talented. I’ve heard her songs, and I remember them as well-crafted and passionately performed. What I don’t remember are any of the actual songs. As I recall, her performance left me feeling vaguely impressed, but crucially, […]
The Use of Clichés in Songwriting
Let’s agree that the most basic job of the songwriter is to make the listener feel something. But let’s say you’re writing about your own feelings—how do you tell someone your heart is “broken” and have them actually care? Well, another job of the songwriter is to make the familiar fresh so that we may yet again feel something […]
Being Honest With Yourself
The other day, I was talking about this blog of mine with a songwriting friend who had happened to read a few entries. He commented that my writing was somehow more “big picture” than others he’d read, and that this is good, because there are already so many songwriting blogs that deal with standard topics […]
Conscious vs. Unconscious Songwriting
I think it’s really important for human beings—not just songwriters—to be as honest with themselves as possible about everything, but especially their own motives for doing things. It’s difficult to do at the best of times, but it’s worth shooting for, and doing it might change your life. Being brutally honest with yourself can hurt, […]
Where Do Song Ideas Come From?
Musings on craft versus intuition… Some people think songs just “happen”, that they just ooze out of the songwriter. There are lots of songwriters who are suspicious of those who make the effort to wrangle words, melodies, and chords into cohesion. Worrying about structure worries them. Even thinking about consistent line lengths and rhyme schemes […]
It is probably not helpful to gleefully tell you “ideas can come from anywhere!” ( “Um, thanks, Blair, that really narrows it down,” I hear you muttering.) But the thing is, it’s true. In fact, quickly finding a dozen decent lyrical ideas is pretty easy. The hard part is finding one idea that excites you, that compels you. The […]