Hey songwriters 🙂
Today’s post is a challenge for you to stretch yourself. Get ready…!
As I’ve been spending the last several months listening to lots and LOTS of new music to use for worship services at my church, I have been struck by one recurring issue: all the songs sound the same. And yes, I know that most of you are probably already aware of this problem, but let me take it a step further than stuff just sounding the same.
I hate to nark on the latest Passion CD, but I’m gonna nark on the latest Passion CD! This project has historically been a collaboration of successful songwriters in the Christian music industry who put out some pretty good music for use in services. The album “Awakening” in 2010 had some really special moments. Even “White Flag” in 2012 had some really catchy tunes like “Lay Me Down” and “You Revive Me”. But what I’ve noticed with the newer “mainstream” Christian music (not just Passion) is that the lack of creativity is more abundant than ever. This newest Passion project “Take It All” has an embarrassing amount of sub-par tunes that all blur together (at least in my mind). I also get a fair amount of comments from people at church about how they can’t remember any of the new music we do because it all sounds the same (and I agree with them!!!)
SOOOOO, here’s my challenge to you:
As you write songs, don’t just put ALL of your energy into crafting beautiful, hooky, unique lyrics. Take some time to develop a unique, memorable, SINGABLE melody (if you’re writing tunes you want people to sing with). PLEASE don’t stick with the first melody you come up with that fits the lyrical phrase. Just because it fits and it works doesn’t mean it’s good! I have written countless songs where the melody just seems to come to me as I’m crafting the lyric. When I come back to it a few days later, I can then see how “uninspiring” it usually is. True greatness often takes a lot of time, a lot of distance, and a lot of editing. One of the things I’ve learned over the last few years of writing is that the more you can remove yourself from the emotional attachment you have to your song, the more successful you will be. I always think the first thing I have written is GENIUS and fresh; unique and monumental. But, I force myself to come back to it a few days later, with a fresh perspective and fresh ears. Typically, it ends up being average at best.
What do you do from there? After you’ve spent some time editing it and refining it, send it to a few friends whose opinion you trust. Ask them for feedback and edits, and don’t be offended when they tell you their honest opinion! It makes you a better writer! On many occasions, I have had someone tell me “well, it’s a good concept, but you need to completely rewrite the verses, and your bridge is cheesy” (and this is AFTER I have edited the crap out of it!) The number one thing is to not feel defeated and to push through. The end product will be SO much better (and more special to you) once you have gone through the pain of the “birthing process” 🙂
I am by NO means an expert, but I think it’s important for me to impart some of the knowledge I’ve picked up over the last few years after working with some incredible writers. I feel a great responsibility to use the gifts God has given me to CHANGE the trajectory of worship music in the church. I think we can do it, you guys! We just have to have patience and work together to create unique, meaningful, and memorable music that honors God.
So… whaddya say? Let’s give this a good old fashioned try! Remember, I’m ALWAYS willing to give you honest feedback and critiquing free of charge 🙂 Just let me know if you want an extra set of ears to help you become a better writer. Love you all! Write on!