Seeking out criticism of your songs can feel like asking someone to trample on your dreams. Like, “Hey there, here’s something I put my entire heart and soul into. I’d love for you to tear it apart for me!”
… said no one ever.
For someone who’s never shown their work to anyone before, the thought of opening up to the opinions of others can be terrifying. Even worse — what if no one likes what you write?
Songwriting is such a tricky and elusive art to pursue and sharpen. It's an individual process, and there's no right or wrong way to write. Oftentimes, songwriters will find a process or writing style that works for them and stick to it. However, I've found over the years that my songwriting will start to plateau if I'm not actively seeking to improve and hone some of the skills behind them. With that in mind, here are some challenges and tips that you can try to help avoid stagnation in your songwriting sessions.
As a songwriter, Leon's songs have hit the charts across all genres and have been covered by a diverse range of artists. Ray Charles recorded 'A Song For You', B.B. King had a hit with 'Hummingbird', The Carpenters with 'Superstar' and Joe Cocker with 'Delta Lady'.
The Carpenter's cover of "Superstar", written by Leon and Bonnie Bramlett, went to #2 on the pop music charts. George Benson won the "Record of the Year" Grammy in 1976 for his cover of Leon's song, "This Masquerade", and it became the first song in music history to hit #1 on the jazz, pop and R&b charts.
I’m always looking for new creative solutions to common songwriting problems for my clients. Sometimes this takes me pretty far outside my own experience and beyond songwriting resources to explore how other creative types deal with their particular road blocks.
One of my go-tos over the years has been Twyla Tharp, the famous American dancer and choreographer. Her book “The Creative Habit” is full of some useful info that easily translates for songwriters and artists.
“He got lucky. That will never happen again.” After celebrating my first number one song, “Beautiful Mess,” a friend of mine told me that a big successful songwriter spoke these words about me. I can’t blame him, he had been writing big songs for years and he’d seen a lot of young writers come and go. He understood that while it’s not easy to write a hit, it’s even more rare to write another one. If you don’t believe that, there are lots of examples of one hit wonders to back up his theory!
Here is a veteran songwriter Kurt Fortmeyer who was kind enough to sit with me and explain how songwriting really works in Nashville.
His story is of packing his things and coming to Nashville to write songs. Kurt has an earthy down home goodness to his soul.
Chris Gantry (Christopher Cedzich) was born December 29th, 1942 in Queens, New York. He began his career as a singer/songwriter at age fourteen with a recording contract for Paramount Records. He moved to Nashville in 1963.