songwriting: just shoot me

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bunk McNulty, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Ever work a song to death? The band I write for now...they are a tough audience. I deal with a lot of rejection. The upside is that when they like something, they really like it, and give generously of themselves to make it as good as possible. I brought them a new tune a month ago; we ran it through, they liked it, but we all agreed it needed some work. In the end, I wrote a bridge for it, more or less out of desperation (it took 10 minutes...I think if it had taken any longer I might have given up on it), and now they're really behind it. The problem is, I've worked it and reworked it so many times I've sort of lost sight of whatever it was that motivated me to write it in the first place. It is a very strange feeling when everyone but you likes what you did...

    Just venting.
  2. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    If you're really sick of it, put it on the shelf for awhile and come back to it when you can look at it with a fresher perspective. I've had songs lie in dormancy for years, when a situation or mood would make me revisit it and turn it into the piece of music it was always meant to be.
  3. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I know what you mean. My last originals band literally took months/years to write songs. It's was ridiculous. We'd write a song, then scrutinize every detail of it until it was "perfect" rewriting parts over and over again. When I finally had enough I just left the band.

    Fast forward 2 years. I was bored and wanted to hand with those guys again. One thing led to another and I was back in the band. The first practice we start going over the older material that I knew, just to give it a once over. It turns out I barely knew those songs too, because they went back and redid a lot of the parts.
  4. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    I know exactly what you mean. Me and my gf are in a duo, essentially i write all music and she does lyrics and singing. For the past two months i've been writing and recording non stop (well, maybe 3 or 4 hours a day on average, some days more some less). I set a goal of one song every two weeks, written, recorded, mixed, lyrics and vocals to be added later. By the time i'm done i probably heard the song i'm at the moment working on over a 100 times. I think all the songs i wrote so far, all 6 of them, now suck. I thought each and everyone of them was good when i wrote them but now i don't know. My gf assures me they're good but i can't tell anymore, in my mind they are now mediocre or passable. The truth is i should likely refrain from listening to any of the for a month or two so i can be objective again.
  5. Musicians often get sick of their own stuff. Sometimes, if others like it, they get even more sick of it. It's totally normal.
  6. Nagrom


    Mar 21, 2004
    Western Canada
    A lot if us writers think our material sucks. Sometimes for good reason. And there's no telling what a listener will like.
  7. I once saw a video of an interview with a band (don't remember who), who stated that in their opinion, the best music they had written was always the songs from their latest, album because they hadn't beaten it to death over multiple tours yet.
  8. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Honestly, many songwriters/bands aren't scrutinizing enough of their own stuff. I have ultimate respect for any band that can produce themselves and do a great job of it, because, IME, most musicians aren't objective enough with themselves to do it.

    (For the record, I don't believe it's possible to be totally objective for ontological reasons I'm not gonna wax, but you know what I mean ;)).
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I hear ya. I was with an originals group for six or seven months. We got a grand total of two songs actually completed in that time - lots more that could have been done if we'd actually done it - the singer learning his part was a major bottleneck. But there was one tune emerging where I had just been fiddling with a rather lame little slap on my B string and the drummer jumped in on it, and then everyone starts saying it's our best song idea yet. They kept wanting to go back to it, and I was like, "Really? THAT one?"
  10. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    The beautiful thing about playing in an originals band is that 90% of the people or more you play for haven't heard ANY of your songs- whatever way you play it any given night that is what it is!

    Looking forward to the couple of originals we are going to throw in with my new band (mostly covers). Because I am going to play the originals however the **** i want each night, (I know now I am not a full Cover Band guy anymore) ;-)

    Might play one of them more reggaish sometimes, throw in upper register chords on verses, whatever I want. Because I wrote the bass part and it is whatever I think it needs to be. ;-)
  11. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    We are in the writing grind right now. The first album was written and recorded in about 4-5 months....12 songs. The second one is not going so well. We really only have 1 fully arranged song in about 3 months of work, and we are grinding this one to death. I'm already starting to get bored of the song because we have micro detailed it and gone over it so many times. So I fully understand your sentiments.
  12. Oh okay, well then good luck and best wishes.
  13. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    That's pretty unbelievable. I've always used the logic that if a song doesn't start cooking within an hour or two then it never will. My bandmates sometimes thought I was giving up too early, but I personally thought it was smarter to put all our energy into songs that already had something good going for them. Not surprisingly, all our best songs were the songs that instantly inspired us and that we didn't have to force ourselves to work on.
  14. Musicians often overwork (new) songs after they released some underworked songs that people loved. It's totally normal.
  15. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains

    How many times have you heard a famous musician talking about the writing process for a very well known hit song? "It took me 10 minutes to write that..."
  16. time i fell down the stairs holding my guitar and accidentally wrote a Nickelback song :bag:

  17. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

  18. Dale D Dilly

    Dale D Dilly Monster

    Jul 1, 2008

    I say take Hobobob's advice and shelf it. In a month or so it probably won't matter what your motivation for writing was; the song will stand on its own when you give it a fresh look and you can fix it up based on how well it works on its own.

    Getting away from your initial motivation for a song is an important songwriting skill IMO. Let it take on a life of its own and be ready to change the game-plan to run with the strengths that show up.

    I love writing lyics and letting another musician come up with his own music for them just because it forces me to let the song become it's own beast rather than a stagnant pile of my own musical baggage. It's a lot harder to write the whole thing yourself and still adjust what's not working to embrace the successful surprises that pop up in the music.

    Also, if a song has a lot of great stuff in it, but it's still not working, don't be afraid to trash it just the same. A dog with a golden crown is still a dog--listeners don't look for potential the same way writers do, and they aren't going to let the cool parts distract them from the bad parts.
  19. I've got a better idea.

    Let us hear it.
  20. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    +1 to that.
    You want tunes that catch audiences the first time around.
    Musicians are generally much more scrutinizing than audiences,
    so, if the tune fails to fly among a bunch of musicians first timeout,
    it likely ain't gonna fly with non musicians.

    Pruning makes better fruit.