The author, Susan Tucker, interviews a baker's dozen of songwriters (one being Canadian Carolyn Dawn Johnson) and each offers some insight and pearls of wisdom into the craft and the business of songwriting. It's well worth the read and it is available here:
Here are some of my favourite quotes from each of the songwriters interviewed, be they insightful, inspirational or insane :-)
- Brett Beavers - "Songwriting has always been the woman I must try to make fall in love with me, over and over again. But it's the chase that makes me feel most alive."
- Jason Blume - "Let's face it: Every writer is not going to make the top of the charts. Does that mean they are failures? Not in my book. As far as I'm concerned, the failure is the one who was so afraid of failing that they never pursued what was in their heart, and never had a chance."
- Chuck Cannon - "I'm not listening for song ideas; I'm listening for soul ideas. I'm listening for understanding on a broader level."
- Bob DiPiero - "I think rewriting is the cog that makes the wheel turn around. Once you get something out there, you really focus on it. But not as I'm originally trying to put something out. Overanalyzing something, especially in the initial stages of writing, can be the death of a song. Let it go by, you can always come back and change it."
- Stewart Harris - "Believe in yourself. That's the most important, because on the days that nobody cuts your songs, and nobody will give you a writer's deal, nobody's listening to your songs, you have to have the belief in yourself to get out of bed, and to go walk out there, and take a deep breath, and go after it."
- Carolyn Dawn Johnson - "Never hang on to your last song. Never believe it's the last song you're going to write. There's always a better one coming."
- Gretchen Peters - "I think your song is the most perfect right before you start writing it, because you have this beautiful vision of it in your mind, and you haven't screwed it up yet."
- Hugh Prestwood - "With every song I write, I go through this period where I think, 'This is the greatest song I've ever written.' Then, 'This is a piece of crap.' Then, 'This is great; no, it's a piece of crap. Now it's great.'
- Mike Reid - "[Finding it hard to write the second verse is a] very common problem, when you get that incredible chorus, and you get a first verse that is just honking. I've found two things for writers to look at when they get stuck. First, you may discover the verse you have is not the first vers, it's the second verse. And the other is, because you're looking for the great line, step back and ask yourself, 'What is the story?' Life must be the protagonist."
- Steve Seskin - "One of the things I've maintained all these years is that you can mix art and commerce, but don't mix them in the creation. Don't let the commerce poison the art."
- Allen Shamblin - "I really trust that the subconscious mind is going to deliver and, in a way, I try to work around the conscious mind because, when we're writing, and thinking about it, we're filtering so much. So, when I write, I try to bypass my conscious mind as much as possible, especially when I'm writing by myself. I'll pick up the guitar and start singing nonsense."
- Tia Sillers - "God, when you're high you feel sexy, and immortal, and creative, godlike. The muse isn't with me; I am the muse."
- Craig Wiseman - "One of the greatest insights I ever made was getting humble enough to realize I'm not special. I'm just an average guy, and if I feel it, and I think it, and I do it, then I'm virtually guaranteed that everybody has felt the same thing."