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#583064 - 02/29/20 11:55 PM [Songwriting] How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs?
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musician17 Offline
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I wrote a song, back in 2018, which expresses in a nutshell much of what I have to say. Ever since, I've been having the shadow of it, so to speak, hang over me - and, despite all my efforts since (and there have been a relatively large number of them), I still don't think I've written anything quite like it, at least in my own opinion of things.

How does one write another "classic" (so to speak!)? I don't want to think of myself as a "one hit wonder", haha - and I honestly don't know why it is that I feel so blocked and in the shadow of that song. Is it just a question of "keep writing and hope you strike lucky again", or ... ? Thanks for any comments!
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#583065 - 02/29/20 11:58 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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Noel96 Offline
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James,

I personally take consolation in the fact that 90% of Bob Dylan's songs are not his best 10%. Pat Pattison said that once at a seminar I went to and it's been in my mind ever since.

I'm still working my way to that best 10% smile

Regards,
Noel
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#583067 - 03/01/20 12:10 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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musician17 Offline
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D'you know something, Noel, that is somehow just the tonic I needed :-)

THAT song turned out good just by accident ... so who knows, if I keep writing ... but thank you for the encouragement, it's "the right kind of medicine", as a friend of mine used to say.

Let's keep searching for that illusory moment, that classic ... who knows, when it's meant to be, it'll be, right? THANKS again :-)
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#583100 - 03/01/20 06:39 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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MarioD Offline
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I am a zero hit wonder so this may not apply cry

Do something that is completely out of your comfort zone. BiaB is great for that! Take you mind off of writing by reading a book, taking a walk, take up photography or some other hobby and start to train your mind into other things. For example a walk in the spring my generate a song about flowers or lovers or the end of a bad relationship (winter is over). A good sci-fi book or movie may bring up different ideas.

Good luck
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#583101 - 03/01/20 06:40 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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Guitarhacker Offline
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Interesting topic....

So, first of all, if you use ideas and parts of the old song in your new stuff, you won't be sued for copyright infringement by yourself. I've seen a few of my tunes rip off melody lines and ideas from my earlier writings. No big deal.

You have to simply keep writing. You have to write a lot of bad, average, and almost good songs to get to the "wow this is amazing" songs. The more you write, the better you get at coming up with new ideas. You are under no obligation to post the bad and average songs for others to hear. Trust me, there's notebooks and computer folders filled with song ideas that were originally thought to be "brilliant" that are now collecting dust because....well..... they weren't. Just move on and don't obsess over the stuff you wrote yesterday. That's water under the bridge.... write something else today. Pick a topic and intentionally write about it.

Also, vary the instrument you use to write. If you normally write on the piano, try writing with a guitar.

The best way to break out of the writing rut is to find a co-writer and try doing some collaboration writing. Some of my best songs (in my opinion) have been the ones where another writer and I got together to create something interesting. Look at my songs and check out which ones are collabs. Quite a few are that way. In fact, I'm collabing with a new writer on several new songs currently. Stay tuned for the results.
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#583138 - 03/01/20 10:07 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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musician17 Offline
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MarioD, you're of course just exaggerating with the modesty :-) - but thank you so much, brilliant advice ... taking my mind off stuff and trying something new out of which inspiration may arise may just "do the trick"! And yes, Guitarhacker, I think you, too, hit the nail on the head with the comment about avoiding obsessing about what I wrote yesterday ... that's probably precisely why I don't actually "move on" ... it's like a relationship, in a way ... if you obsess over a past relationship, you'll never move on to find the next, magical one. So yes ... if I stop staying under yesterday's shadow, maybe something new will come to me? And yes, I have to keep writing!

On that note ... anyone want to collaborate with me? haha. I may be smiling, but I'm actually dead serious about this ... if anyone has the time and inclination (and patience, haha) to want to write with little old me over here, I'd love to hear from you ... I'm open to all ideas and suggestions, of course - the more, the merrier :-)

Thanks everyone once more for helping me out with this :-)
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#583155 - 03/01/20 11:29 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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MarioD Offline
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Originally Posted By: musician17
...............

On that note ... anyone want to collaborate with me? haha. I may be smiling, but I'm actually dead serious about this ... if anyone has the time and inclination (and patience, haha) to want to write with little old me over here, I'd love to hear from you ... I'm open to all ideas and suggestions, of course - the more, the merrier :-)

Thanks everyone once more for helping me out with this :-)


Sure I will do a collaboration with you.
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#583160 - 03/01/20 11:53 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
Registered: 07/08/19
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Roger Brown Online   content
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I have a good friend, a songwriter, who was literally a one-hit wonder. Had a #1 in the mid-80s and never got another cut. He spent the next two decades trying to write something better than that one song, basically hoping to beat it. I'll pass along what he said: "My biggest mistake was living my career in the rearview mirror. I wasted years looking back instead of looking forward, towards the next song."

You aren't in competition with yourself. And your songs are in competition with each other. Every one is different, a unique entity. Forget that one and move on, you've already written it. And also, fwiw, songwriters are generally the worst at determining which of their own songs is their best. Case in point, I had a song recorded by an artist named Nanci Griffith back in the late 80s. Was a single, but died in the 20s or 30s, I don't remember exactly. But a lot of people have said over the years how much they liked the song, or that "it's the best thing you've ever written". To me, it was just an exercise in writing....took me about 40 minutes to write start to finish. I never thought it was special at all, but other people seem to. Conversely, I have a half dozen or so songs that I would describe as "the best I've written", and most of them have never seen the light of day.

Co-writing, I agree, is also a great way to break out of a rut.

Best of luck with it.
RB

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#583161 - 03/01/20 12:00 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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musician17 Offline
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Thanks Roger, really appreciate your genuinely insightful comments!!! I will definitely take your advice and look forward. The last thing I want is to be defined by "past glories", haha. Thanks!!!

MarioD, you'll have a Private Message from me shortly - thanks!!!!!!
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#583561 - 03/04/20 06:06 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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Guitarhacker Offline
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I have a saying I stick with ....


Write, submit, forget, repeat.'

Essentially, write your song, do whatever you planned to do with it, forget about it, and repeat the process.

Seems to work.
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#583638 - 03/04/20 02:53 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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Hans MusiSide Offline
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First of all you should try to write a song WITH the 'Shadow of the past'. Why not? And than make another two or three just like that. (for exercise)
Or you could try to reproduce such a song. It will give you the possibility to discover the secret of it.

If you do that, you will learn, that the best songs are the most simple ones. It doesn't have to be that difficult to imagine. Listen for example to the song of the 'Mavericks': 'Dancin'The Night Away'. It was a smashing hit, with just TWO CHORDS!

I don't know your musical skills, but otherwise try to take a scale in the key you want to play and/or sing. Take every note of this scale in 4/4 count and 'invent' on every note a chord. Make it simple, keep it simple. Because the more simple you can make it, the more simple one can sing it. And remember it. And the secret of a smashing hit is, that one can remember the tune!

And if you once have found a way of 'inventing' these chords, you can work on it, to give this 'invention' your own sound and style.

And my last tip for this moment: Try to give your musical 'invention' something 'special'. Like Paul McCartney did with 'Mull Of Kintyre' (bagpipes) or Gotye with 'Somebody I Used To Know' (xylophone). Unusual instruments gives people an 'remembrance'. Only if you're Frank Sinatra, you just need a big band orchestra. :-)

Good Luck!

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#583708 - 03/04/20 09:54 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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musician17 Offline
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Thanks, both of you! It was the "forget about it" part that I didn't do so well on ... I'll try :-)

I'll get back to it now! Cheers for all your kind help!
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#584015 - 03/06/20 12:13 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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edshaw Offline
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I think Roger is right. I would add, not only are you not in competition with yourself or your songs, we musicians are not intended to be in competition with either other; though perhaps, with the exception of the friendly kind, you know, that which drives us to the higher sort.
Funny that you would pose this, James. If anything, you are known as one who creates in all kinds of styles. We never know what to expect, from a rambling talk to something seeming inspired by a Bach Chorale.
Is the question, "How do I break out of a habit?" If so, that is one of the perennial artist's dilemma. Meaning, the solution has yet to be discovered. With our old friend Band in a Box, we can change keys, tempo, signature, strum pattern, and a lot of other things. Sometimes it comes down to, "What do I want to say, I mean, really want to say?" The master taught us, of all the values of a work, the most important is that it has something to say.
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#584028 - 03/06/20 01:08 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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musician17 Offline
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Wow - thank you Ed. Beautifully written and, of course, spot on. I personally tend to doodle and experiment a lot when writing, so yes, as you say, it is important that I keep focus on what I actually want to say, as opposed to "rambling for the sake of it", so to speak.

A famous composer once told his librettist: "Do as the good cooks do ... make the soup and let much of the water evaporate until it becomes a concentrate!". What I take from that is that, again, I must see what it is that I have to say ... the rest is excess water!

I've written this, tonight, and posted it up on the User Showcase: https://soundcloud.com/jamesdelsono/i-love-you-always . I include it here just because I think I've written it with all of the above in mind, and I think (although I may be wrong) that it's my best work in a while. Funny how talking about things helps too ... once I voiced my worries about being stuck in a rut, inspiration came easier, too ... sometimes it helps just to talk, too, I suppose.

Thank you again for your wonderful words - I will remember them for sure.
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#584052 - 03/06/20 02:41 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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I haven't written anything big enough to cast a shadow smile We played in a traditional bluegrass band for many years and our repertoire was all, well, traditional smile We might arrange them but never wrote them. After leaving the band and a decade later discovering BiaB we began to explore genres that we had long loved but never played (notably Americana and blues). And in order to participate on the forum I (Bud) had to write lyrics for Janice (who at any time has around a zillion melodies in her head). Were it not for the encouragement of a few forum folks years ago, notably mr jane, I would never have developed at all as a writer. It's still akin to a root canal but I manage to eek a few out now and then. I do have some favs I've "written" and they are nearly all co-writes with the aforementioned mr jane. But take him out and the shadow would get pencil thin! So my only shadow is the one looming over me when it's time to work on a lyric.

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#584080 - 03/06/20 04:42 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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edshaw Offline
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Hah! James. When I said rambling I didn't mean rambling incoherently, but more like talking us through something, like you sometimes talk us through a scripture or a poem. (Just so you know:)
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#584191 - 03/06/20 10:40 PM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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musician17 Offline
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Haha - I know, Ed, thanks. I didn't mean at all to imply that your use of the word "rambling" was in a pejorative sense :-) but I DO think I "experiment", "doodle" and even "ramble on" at times, haha, and that's what I wanted to say: that I may need to "get to the point quicker" when I write, so as to better communicate what I actually have to say! :-)

Bud: you're incredibly modest, perhaps too much so (who am I to say?). But yes, a little dose of that modesty wouldn't be bad for me, perhaps ... instead of focusing how I can make a better song than the one in the past, perhaps I can be modest about it and realise I CAN get better, etc., because the bar's not that highly set in the first place ;-) Seriously, though - one way or another, your productions (whoever and whatever is involved) are - for me, at least - the benchmark of this forum ... and everytime something new comes out bearing the Janice & Bud hallmark, so to speak, I drop everything and listen as quickly as I can ... and I'm never ever disappointed in any way with what I hear. So ... whatever magical secrets you may have (including modesty and good old fashioned hard work), I want some :-) One last thing: if I could even remotely do what you do, I'd be shouting about it from the rooftops, haha ... but that's just me :-)
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#584249 - 03/07/20 07:20 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
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edshaw Offline
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Ah, James, we live in a world in which subtleties of meaning can make or break a public offering. Forgive me if I was picky, but better safe than sorry. My vocals have been described as part talk & part sing. That's fine with me, though I normally stop short of outright evangelism. I recall one of your strong songs was basically a voice over. (There I go, again.) It was great.
--- I couldn't agree more with your kind words to Janice and Bud. That also goes for the collabs they do, as it goes also for Scott, Floyd, and several others.
--- Since discovering Soundcloud's "Playlist" feature, I have been making playlists that I run in the background while on the computer. Thanks to the great strides made in home recording and composition software, those playlists would fly on many a radio station. Two main problems: 1) getting organized to avoid a sea of correspondence to get the permissions. Two) The general environment of lawlessness, fraud, and deceit has created a negative business environment that makes getting anything done well nigh impossible. All done, of course we know, on purpose.(Keeps the little guys at bay.)


Edited by edshaw (03/07/20 07:22 AM)
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#584366 - 03/08/20 01:52 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
Registered: 05/05/18
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musician17 Offline
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I know what you mean, Ed, about the difficulty of getting stuff done and "out there". Thing is, I mainly write for myself, so I personally am ok if not everyone hears my stuff, so to speak (besides, mine is not really radio ready, as it were) - but I honestly don't envy the so many amazing musicians that do music for a living ... it's carnage out there.

Still ... I've saved some of the songs from here on my own SoundCloud profile - perhaps I will set up a playlist, too ... in my spare time, of course. Just for the sake of remembering some of the truly great songs posted on here.

Thanks for ever so kindly talking to me ... I hope and wish to hear more of your stuff!!! There are such great musicians here ... it's just reminded me about a play about jazz music, by Warren Leight, entitled "Side Man". It's by far the best play about music I've ever read and seen, so I highly recommend it ... if you have any chance of getting the book and, preferably, also the audio version, do. Plug over, haha ... I don't earn anything out of "plugging" this, of course, haha ... but it just came to mind, it IS - to me, at least - amazing and "bucket list" material.

Take good care!
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#584637 - 03/09/20 11:52 AM [Songwriting] Re: How does one get out of the "shadow" of past songs? [Re: musician17]
Registered: 10/02/19
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Bawb Offline
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Dunno...
But personally, I have completely switched genres...
This has opened up a whole new world for me.
I used to write songs that were strictly hard rock or rock ballads.
Now, I'm writing/singing Christian songs.

Also, I wholeheartedly endorse the Band in a Box as an excellent tool for any songwriter. In the past, I had to rely on other people who weren't exactly as talented as they led me to believe and wanted a lot of money for poor quality music for my songs. I bought Band in a Box back in 2003 and it helped, then life got too busy, so I let it go. Last year, I got to the point where I could not find music for the songs I wanted to sing, so i thought, "Maybe I could try Band in a Box again." I was NOT disappointed.

And then this led me to writing my own songs again due to recording companies wanting royalties and such when you sing their songs in churches.

BIAB has been such a boost to my songwriting. This is especially true since it is SO much easier to put words to music for me. As I hear certain notes and chords saying certain words and then chord progressions saying phrases in my head.


Edited by Bawb (03/09/20 11:57 AM)

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