For today’s article I thought it would be fun to look at the journey of a song. How it’s birthed, developed and is finished. We will use a song I wrote called, “I’m In love” that is currently on the radio in a few places.
This song began somewhere around 6 – 7 years ago. I was playing guitar sitting at my dining room table in Silt, CO. I had found some chords I really liked…when it happened. The moment that every songwriter is looking for, when the heavens seem to open and your blood pumps rocket fuel throughout your body. The moment when every creative bone in your body comes alive is known as…inspiration. Suddenly the chord progression was teeming with life and my mind raced to understand and to shape it’s meaning.
It’s at this moment that any good songwriter will pull out a recording device and try and capture the inspirational awesomeness.
Listen here to what that sounded like.
Now I don’t know what kind of music you like to listen to, but in my book that’s pretty horrible. However, as bad as that recording seems now, we were very excited about it. My wife posted to social media about it because we both knew it was going to be an awesome song. I labeled it “Thematic” and went about life.
While you can’t underestimate the importance of inspiration to songwriting, in reality it is only a small part of the process. That’s why hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of unfinished moments of sonic inspiration just like this one are still currently sitting in notebooks, on devices, or are simply lost to the ages of humanity simply because songwriting also involves work.
The work of songwriting involves going back to inspiration and shaping it into existence. You try lyrics, you change the melody, you add orchestration, and keep at it even when the inspiration runs out. You also have to work to keep inspired about something. Often, here in the writing rooms of Nashville, the time allowed for this development is 4 hours. But when you’re writing on your own you can take as long as you need. I don’t remember how long it took me but I wouldn’t count it in hours…more like months.
I felt like the song was supposed to describe, in the lyrical content as well as in the music, what it feels like to be in the presence of the Lord. The words and the way they flow together into melody, combined with dramatic changes in intensity were all part inspiration and part work.
I also stumbled upon the idea to write the chorus in what I call, Transitive Prose. Which means that the last word of the phrase is also the first word of the next line. Example. …gravity has lost it’s hold in me (in me Your life is lifting (lifting me up to breathe again. Not sure everyone appreciates, notices, or even thinks that’s as cool as I do, but to each his own.
So then it’s time to put all of that together in a work tape, or if you’re able, a demo. Which I did, so you can take a listen.
With the lyrics finished and a rough sketch of musical direction we took this to a producer (someone who records and helps make decisions for the music) to make this ready to share. Producers take your ideas and add their own, sometimes taking songs in a completely different direction than originally imagined. A process that is neither cheap nor painless. Always a challenge to let go and allow someone to make changes (large or small) and it doesn’t always make the song better.
We were and are excited about how this song turned out. From blabbering broken English into a phone at our kitchen table to the airwaves of radio took a long time, perseverance, inspiration, and money but we believe it was worth it. You can hear a small sample here or listen to the lyric video on YouTube by clicking here.