Songwriting Angst

Angst and Then Some

I have two songs that are being reviewed by hi-profile recording artists.  It’s very exciting and has been making me rethink my whole songwriting self image.  There are reasons that I write songs, and reasons I write in the American Music Country/Honky-Tonk/Rockabilly genres.  I love the music.  This music tells my story.  This music makes me feel as if I am still a part of the America in which I grew up.  It also has a rhythm I understand deep within my bones.  Also my songs are born from my own stories and experiences.  I knew or know the people of whom I write.

One of my songs is currently being reviewed by a country singer, and that is kool.  It’s an old timey Honky-Tonk song about Honky-Tonk life and Honky-Tonk people out in the low-down back-alley dives where Honky-Tonks exist.  The song is fun, it’s based partly on my visits to those places in my early years, and on the stories I’ve heard from their denizens.

The other song is a “Pop” song.  I wrote it a few years back for a song published who was working in cahoots this a talent developer to bring up a young woman who had a voice with a very limited vocal range.  They said her sweet spot was around 5-7 notes.  So I wrote this song about  a little kid who had a crush on a guy, but who couldn’t tell him.  Catchy, bouncy, fun and it moves.  I can sing it and I will, but I do it a little more edgy (of course).  I was asked to re-reference my submission with a female singer, and I did and re-sent it.

I’m eagerly waiting on both replies, as you can imagine, but I’m also doing some reconsidering in terms of me writing Pop songs.  Why not write more Pop songs?  Why not “sell out” for the buck?  Why not make a living?  This probably sounds just a little sophomoric to those of you who just write songs.  I have been all caught up in the image of the “Outlaw” Country writer that for awhile I lost touch of what a songwriter actually does–THEY WRITE SONGS!

A compelling and supportive argument to my idea of allowing a myriad of genres to infiltrate my songwriting is that I am readying a song–another Pop song–that I wrote in the middle 1970s for a singer in Texas.  My new notion is that songwriting in a tightly limited latitude of idea/style material is OK if I am just writing for myself and my own performances, but if I am writing outside of that self-imposed limitation, then I should explore all the avenues of possible acceptance.  It’s called, Marketing.  If I just write for myself, my marketing focuses on my performances.  If I write for others, then my marketing must focus on trends, fashions, and the needs of others.  Sounds kind of fun!


11 thoughts on “Songwriting Angst

  1. Congratulations on your good fortune! Would you consider using a different background/font, so as to make it a bit easier for us to read? I had a bit of difficulty here; thanks!

  2. Thanks Lisa for reading this. I am sorry you are having trouble reading it, but I love the layout and the background. I’ll try a larger font next time around, and see how that works. Hilary

    • first of all like lisa says congratulations on your songwritingto get that far it must be good enough , ihad no problems reading the background / font , maybe lisa needs better graphics

  3. Hi Ian, thanks for the comment. Well, Lisa does write background and fount, but it is possible she has a problem with the abstract photo I use as the illustration. I showed in galleries for years, selling abstract photographs, and I like to use them every so often. Songs need to be clearly written and easy to understand, but abstraction, demands its viewers to delve deeply into subconscious areas of self that sometimes are uncomfortable. Aside from the photo, I am not sure what other graphics are there to be discussed. H

  4. I’m writing this to “get on the radar”, Hilary. See ya on … wherever (Lol) … good stuff you got up here, bro’!

  5. Hi Hilary. I like your statement “My new notion is that songwriting in a tightly limited latitude of idea/style material is OK if I am just writing for myself and my own performances, but if I am writing outside of that self-imposed limitation, then I should explore all the avenues of possible acceptance.” I’m fairly new to songwriting and this is a logical dilema. I generally write songs from the heart which makes it “writing for myself”. However, to achieve success as a songwriter is it a must to write outside of that limitation? I wrote a song about the Iraq / Afghan wars (“Hey Daddy”) which clearly was written to represent the bravery and angst of our long suffering troops. Yet, this song also came from my heart because I share many of the feelings expressed in that song because I have friends and cousins in the theatre of war. So, I’ve probably answered my own question – a successful song can be written both “for myself” and outside of that limitation.

    • Hi Kane and thanks for your response! You are right, the trick is to write from both places. I think that when we are at our best, our responses to life have a universal quality. I remember a professor who once told us that any question, even what we think is a really stupid one, we night have should be asked, because we won’t be the only ones with that same question, and we will be asking for those without the courage to speak out.

      Our songs, if were are able to be honest with our emotions, ought to reflect more than our own dilemmas, simply be virtue of our humanity. My humanness reaching out through my/your songs to touch that same humanness in others.

      I was, though, writing of genres, and pushing out of my own comfortable and familiar, rhythm/melody/lyric zones and making my statements in POP or JAZZ or SOFT ROCK instead of COUNTRY/ROCKABILY/HONKY-TONK..

  6. … enjoy listening / hearing / reading your conscious mind interpretations of the inner workings of the Indie singer-songwriter … though writing this 12/30/16; hopefully you are still here to keep on keeping on…

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