Song Doctor Blog
Read about how to write better songs
This morning I’m working in a slightly unusual situation with a colleague and old friend I’d done a lot of work with over 20 years ago in Wellington. Now he’s back in the USA and we’re re-kindling that collaboration in situ at his studio in Alburquerque.
It’ s highly likely something productive will come out of a face to face session but there’s always a chance things won’t gel. And I’m doing a little second guessing.
The ‘big girl boots’ part of me is excited and aware that nothing ventured nothing gained, but the niggle that comes with second guessing (what if it’s a blow out - what if I’ve got no good ideas - what if - what if) is taking a bit more to dislodge. Meh.
However, I’m taking a leaf out of Houston Symphony principal horn player Bill VerMeulen’s book and liberally applying it to songwriting! He was asked how important it was to listen to an orchestra’s recordings or play for its members in advance of an audition. VerMeulen’s response was not to focus solely on making the audition panel happy - the theory that if you play to make them happy, chances are, nobody winds up happy. But if you play in a way that makes you happy, at least one person will leave the room happy (you), and likely, the audition committee will be happier too.
It’s easy to worry about what an audience, a jury, an audition panel, and your peers might think. Harder to ignore the feeling.
The magic bullet is to develop strong convictions about what you believe in, making for a more compelling audition by reducing the second guessing that could derail your performance. I read this in Bulletproof Musician’s great newsletter.
Hmmm, I reckon the same principle applies to collaborative songwriting. Both of us definitely have a strong well of artistic vision, values, tastes and musical choices to draw on and that means strong convictions. And I know the personal connection can sustain a robust to and fro that comes with co-creation.
I’m feeling wry even writing this, because I’ve just convinced myself.
Best I practice what I preach! ‘
Talk more soon
PS Attention Nelson songwriters, Susan Jeffrey is arranging for a small group of songwriters to get together and share songs, talk songwriting and get motivated to stay writing. Contact her for more details on firstname.lastname@example.org.