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Definition of a Songwriter



Definition: Songwriter: a collector of many lessons over time, who, due to a lot of trial and error, coupled with a hell of a lot of stubborn resolve, is willing to share lessons with others, mostly in song (even if they're not listening).  "Really how hard is it to be a songwriter? All you do is just sit in a room and make stuff up, isn't there like a formula for that?" How many of us have heard those words? At some point, we all heard a song and thought "I can do that too - how hard can it be?!" In truth, a song has touched us so deeply that our life, in that moment, is forever changed. We can't imagine doing anything else and really (naively) how hard can it be? So begins the journey of many "learnings" So, we get a pen and paper, a guitar or piano and we sit, and sit and sit - for hours at a time, if necessary. We write nothing and think, sarcastically, "well that was fun, let's do this again sometime".  Then, the next day, or a few days later we revisit that idea and think, "That's it, I am going to sit and do this again!" Maybe this time we get a few words down or a fragment of a melody and we say, "Yes, I am on my way!" Then later that day, we might be driving in our car listening to the radio and we think, "hey wait! I just wrote that song!" only to find someone had written it years before us, what we wrote this morning was actually "Layla."Some time goes by and we find ourselves sitting back down to write again; this time about a break up or something funny that happened to us or some inspiration hits us and it's like we have been sent to this planet on a mission to write this one great song.  So, we sit down, we do it, we get it done and, amazingly, it is good.  So the hard part is over - we've learned to write a song. Now, it is time to share it with the world and the world is ready and waiting, or, so we might think. But, in truth, we learn that we have just begun. We now have to share our song with other people. Yes, our mom might like it, our significant other and our best friend do, but then we play it in public at an open mic or bar gig and we learn no one cares.  Damn. So we practice some more, maybe record our song somewhere like on a cellphone or tape recorder or a DAW and then we listen and we learn that there are things worse then hearing ourselves talk on an answering machine or in a video recording. It can be brutal, but we learn to trust and believe in ourselves. We sacrifice time with friends and family (who don't always understand why) to pursue our dream. We meet new friends and co-writers along the way.  The majority of us weren't born in Nashville, but we begin to make pilgrimages, and we find ourselves in the city of music and we learn how to navigate it. We learn from having our songs picked over, critiqued upon, and learn what "we should have done, and what we need to do", or we learn that that last guy was really full of it, and despite that, we learn to humble ourselves.  One day we learn the highs, like somebody might take and record our song - or we learn the lows; we got so lost on that mission, on that dream, and spent too much money on this cut or on this trip, this workshop and we learn that we are bitter or frustrated. But then we learn to get over it and learn to look at what is really important in our lives. We learn to remember the purity and the joy that music brought us: we learn to listen to and believe in ourself - to connect with and support others. We learn that maybe a hit on the radio isn't what is most important, but that being involved in a community of writers (like TSAI) is. Don't get me wrong, having a hit would be great, but being involved with people who love and value music and creativity is maybe the most important lesson.

Kyle English Cincinnati Chapter Leader  Show quoted text

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