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The Ramblings of an Independent Artist

Hello 'funkywhitegirl' , Here's an important question .... Have you ever sat down, written a song and felt very passionate about it? Then after a lay off you listen to it, compare it to what's 'out there' and get this 'I think this may suck as a song' ? How do you know if what you're writing is good enough? --Lance

Hi Lance:

Well what a big question my friend and an issue I think every songwriter and artist in the world if they are in touch with their vulnerability and humanity has struggled with. To answer this from my own experience is the only way I can, so I truly hope it helps you. When I first started writing songs I went to songwriting seminars and I took private lessons from a couple of the best in Hollywood and not people who just want to analyze the song to death mentally, and 'talk' about 'songwriting' and have had no success whatsoever except to get hungry artists to pay them for their so called 'expert advice.' And then I also listened to lots of songs and I sort of analyzed what was happening. And to tell you the truth, I actually think I took all of this in 'subconsciously' because I never really did 'try' to sit down and write a song from what I learned from any of these things. As an artist, I write when the 'muse' hits me. I don't sit down in a calculated mode and say 'o.k! Let's see, this teacher told me to do this here and then to have this section' and so on and so forth. All of the lessons I learned from the classes and teachers, etc., sort of filtered down into me and when I wrote, it all came together as a song.

This IS NOT to say I don't have more to learn, but I certainly cannot be calculated about anything I write. I remember trying to sit down and write a quote 'love song' thinking I needed to do that because that is what seems to sell. I crumpled up the paper in disgust half way through and got up and went about my day. And.... I used to let people listen to what I was creating and ask for their opinions (friends and music song savvy people), and I always got 10 opionions. If I got the same comment from 3 or more people, I would pay attention - and then only somewhat. I began to learn to trust my intuition about my writing. I would sometimes look at the songs and realize that everything was in it's place as far as structure, rhymne, theme, chorus summing up the song, and the verse taking you to the answer within the chorus or the question, etc., and then wouldn't worry about it anymore. The more songs one writes, the more all the 'technical elements' will fall into place on their own. It's like singing. I took vocal technique for years and all the breathing and placement, etc., etc., now just works on its own. The only thing I have to worry about (which isn't a worry at all), is feel. Do I feel it? Am I singing it like I feel it? Does it move me from the core of myself? And believe me if it does all that for me - it's going to project out and do that for my fans. That is exactly what you need to think about when you look at a finished lyric or one in the making. Does it move "YOU?" Do YOU feel it? Do you KNOW it? Does it really really touch and heal you inside? Is the message or sentiment clear to 'you?' If you can scream YES to all those things - I think you have THE song.

Plus you cannot ever begin to 'compare.' The little 'compare' demon comes from an inner insecurity about your work - at least for me that's where it comes from. Yes, many times, like a good love affair, we feel passionate about something we 'just' wrote and then later begin to doubt it. For me, that means doing one or two things: I either let it sit by filing it away for a while (sometimes a LONG while), or I begin to rework it a bit to see what is missing. Because what may be bothering me might be the fact that the passion I felt was not properly expressed in the lyric and when I go back to it I'm like - "Hey, where's that feeling I had when I first wrote this?" Art is a gift. The 'muse,' when it comes is one of the greatest gifts of all to an artist and eventually to whomever the gift is brought and is shared with. To get too technical and analytical about a gift is it's death.

So to wrap up this 'rambling' answer that feels more like a commentary of some sort...for me the passion of a song, of the lyric, of the gift, is the true song and should never be messed with and NEVER be compared to anyone else's song. Your humanity and vulnerability and 'fear' (that the song won't be liked), will always arise and cause you to question your gift, which at times is a very good thing - but one that should never ever ever (did I say EVER?), cause you to feel that what you have created is 'not good enough.' Not good enough for who? Not good enough for 'YOU' is the only answer that should drive you to change your song or your art.

Thanks Lance for a wonderful wonderful question!!!!

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