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Say Somethin'- A Guide to Writing Music

Guest Article by Andrew Garner
I went down to the sacred store,
Where I’d heard the music years before,
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.
 - Don McLean
Songwriter- by David Finley

 For most of us this song (American Pie) is one of the longest we’ve ever heard.  Yet, for all of its detailed writing with whimsical and apocalyptic imagery, hidden metaphors and broad range of emotions, the base of the message is beautifully encapsulated in this one simple line.

 As a songwriter it is often a temptation to devise complex story with intricate wording and rhythm creating a grand opus that millions will adore for generations to come! ...eh hem… sorry I got carried away.  In truth that kind of grandiosity is only achieved with a fundamental emotional connection.   

To connect with people you must find a common ground.  

 In songwriting (I have found) this oftentimes comes in very simple statements or ideas. Let’s take a look at some other songs to illustrate: 

Satisfaction- The Rolling Stones


 The era this song was written in definitely connects with its message.  As the years have gone by this song has only gained popularity in the always bigger-and-better ideals of western culture.

 Hey Jude- The Beatles



 With simple lines like “Take a sad song and make it better”  “Don’t be afraid” “Don’t let me down”, it’s simple encouragement culminated into expectation.  This is not just emotional but something we all need.

Blowin’ in the Wind- Bob Dylan  

 Asking so many of life’s persistently unanswered questions, the writer gives a simple and profound answer for us all.
   
  None of this is to say that detailed and heavy lyrics are no good.  Let’s go back to American Pie.  The “simple” line I quoted at the beginning wouldn’t have been so poignant if it didn’t have the support of the verses preceding it.  We find that-like everything else in life-we must find the balance.

 We need to focus on the simplistic, sometimes even obvious, elements of our surroundings-  What we know is true.  And if you’re like me, you subscribe to the Keats philosophy. It’s the only way to find beauty.   

 And isn’t that what art is all about?

 Thanks for reading all you crazy ne’er-do-wells!


Andrew Garner is a songwriter, musician, and actor living in central Florida.  You can find more about him and his music on the following links:


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