Songwriters Series

Music has been the overwhelming influence in my world this past month.  I’ve had the chance to discover some new bands and have gained a few new favorite songs.  I also started wondering more and more about similarities and differences between what a songwriter does and what book writers do.  My hope is to keep finding new bands/singers/songwriters to fall in love with and maybe even snag a few who might be willing to answer these questions.


These are just a few things that popped into my mind this week:


What is the secret to conveying so much in so few words?  The song that just had me swaying along was a mere 178 words long.  The book I’m working on that hopefully does the same?  104,000 words.

Is there any similarity between plotting a song and plotting a story?  Are there industry formulaic “rules” a songwriter follows that would be similar to our plot lines and character arcs?  Is there an editing process songwriters go through with their lyrics?

Is there an element they know they have to get right, for example emotion, sentiment, sound, message, theme, story in order for the song to work?  I have heard it said that you can have a successful book with a not-so-zippy plot as long as you’ve got exciting, sympathetic characters.  Is the same true for their songs?

Do musicians have similar contrasting feelings about the evolution of music into the digital age as authors do with their books?  Comparing holding a physical record or CD in their hands to knowing the benefits that digital media offer as far as ease and speed of sharing their work with listeners/readers.

Does a songwriter feel more personally exposed sharing their lyrics than an author writing a fictional story or are songs often fictionalized?

Is there a comparison to be made for the feeling of energy a musician receives from performing a live show?  I don’t know yet, but is a book-reading as electric as a bass-pounding, amped up song set?

Musicians are often the subjects of our stories.  How many bluesy, guitar-strapped-across-his-back heroes have we strutted across our pages?  How many punk rock, attitude-served-up-on-a-prickly-stick heroines have we designed to deconstruct the poor boy next door?  Do songwriters tend to write about a certain type of person?  A tortured lover or a girl trying to make her way in the world?

What is more powerful for them, a song about a moment or the big picture? 

Whatever our similarities and differences, I know the songwriter/musician is an essential component to my artistic expression and very often the muse that drives the words onto the page.  I think that means I owe them a big ole thank you!  Thanks!

As we speak, I’ve submitted this list of questions to a new favorite band and if I hear back, I’ll be sure to post their answers here and invite them to the pond.

Have a great musical day everyone!