Every day, while dropping off kids here and there for their various activities or buying groceries, I listen to songs on the radio. Lately, I’ve been listening differently, more carefully.
When something about a song captures my attention, even if it’s a song that has lyrics that don’t appeal to me (lyrics are big for me), I try to understand what it is about the elements of the song that gets to me. It might be the arrangement, shifts in rhythm, instruments/sounds used, whatever.
Then, I try to figure out how I could apply those elements in how I write and arrange my music, in order to more effectively present and reinforce the main points of my lyrics.
Because, for me, the lyrics are the point. But in the past, I haven’t paid enough attention to the craft of song writing, appropriately but creatively using changes in arrangement or effectively reinforcing the main point of the song in different ways, bringing up the drama, changing the tone where necessary. That’s going to change. I’m going to do all the work I need to in the background, so that when it comes time to go to the studio the recording part will be as efficient as possible while still being artistic.
I’m not about making songs popular, but I am about making meaningful songs communicate and have a purpose – not necessarily for everybody, but at least for somebody. It will take time, but it will be worth doing, on a personal level. And as I told my students back in the day, “The question is not ‘Is it hard?’, but ‘Is it worth it?’ – and I believe it is.”