The second part of my 2-part post is about my songwriting. Now, let me preface this by saying I am in no way an expert at writing songs and am still learning new things every day. I have, however, been privileged to receive the highest remarks from the Nashville Songwriting Association about my songs. In fact, they chose my song "This House Is Haunted" to be in their list of the best Top 40 songs written. Maybe their bar is low, or I just got lucky, but either way, it was nice praise for a novice songwriter like me!
I've realized that my best songs come from first-hand emotional experiences. Those songs flow freely and effortlessly out of me and end up turning out the best. When I can't think of ideas right off the top of my head, I journal about what I'm feeling that day or what strong memories I have that have deeply affected my life. Then from there, I can usually come up with an idea or title for the song. In most cases, I start with the title and go from there. However, many times I find that when I start writing the song, it evolves into something totally different and the title and direction changes.
Most writers have a strength. Some writers are melody people and some are lyricists. Of course, many claim to be both, but I'll let you in on a secret- most people lean towards one strength! My strength is lyrics. Lately I've been writing songs by myself and will do the melody on my own, but when I feel like there could be a stronger melody, I will try to co-write with someone whose strength is melodies. That's how I wrote my debut single, "This House Is Haunted."
I started with an idea I had based on my first-hand experience of breaking up with my boyfriend. I had to pass his house every day and so I started writing a song called "Pass By Your House." (I know, it sounds lame when I look back on it too) I had some lyrics penned down and the main line that stood out to everyone when I brought it into my co-write with Tammy Jacobs and John Milstead was "I go to bed sleeping in your old t shirt, it's like you're wrapped around me." From that line, and everything I had described to them about my break-up, Tammy came up with the better title "This House Is Haunted." (Tammy is also a lyricist) From there, John (who is the melody machine) came up with the melody and we started writing the chorus. Writing the chorus first is, in my opinion, the best way to steer the direction of the song. If you write the point of the song first, then the verses are easier to come up with. We wrote the chorus first, the verses second, and the bridge last.
Co-writing is great because you have multiple people's ideas and creativity in the song. You also have accountability--people who won't let you put just any mediocre line in the song because you want to move on. Co-writing challenges you to write the best possible melodies and lyrics. But, sometimes co-writing feels like dating. Many times you write with writers you don't know at all. It's such a weird phenomenon: you have to spill your emotional baggage to a stranger upon meeting them, and then try to write a good song about it. Sometimes you click and sometimes you don't. I've gone to many co-writes where I felt like I had the best idea ever and thought it was going to be a hit and then the writer and I didn't see eye-to-eye and the song ended up being a flop. But, like dating, you just move on, and hope you can write a better song next time!
Lately, I've been busy writing songs by myself and with other people, and I can't wait to share some of my new stuff with you all next year on my first EP! I'll be playing songs for my producer soon...so I'll keep you updated on how that goes!
Sometimes I think I'm crazy. But sometimes, I think I know exactly what I'm doing.