I think every artist obviously has their own method for coming up with a good tune. Everyone has their own inspirations. So on that note - no pun intended - if I were to give advice to some young up and comers trying to craft a good song, I’d say to go with your gut… to go with what you’re feeling… to go with what inspires you, because in my opinion, if you do that, it’s coming from an authentic place, and for art to be good, it’s got to be authentic.
Personally, I draw from my life experiences or the life experiences of people I know, or people I may not know first hand, but may observe. I’m inspired by that slice of life, that human connection. Now for me, these slices of life most often go hand in hand with a melody, a bass line, perhaps a lyrical hook, that may evoke an emotion tied to an observation… and the next thing you know, this observation… this inspiration… has given me the tree trunk/main hook of a song, and what follows are the branches/verses that flesh themselves out. Sometimes it’s the other way around with the branches first becoming well defined, followed by the tree trunk… the main anchor of a song suddenly staring you in the face!
There is no real formula… except that I’m drawing from a situation… a storyline… I’m drawing from something that inspires me. It’s very rare for me to come up with anything good when I try writing for the sake of writing with no emotional impetus/connection to spark me.
I truly believe that when you go with your gut… when you go with your feel… when you go with your instinct, when you are inspired from that authentic place, tap into that and the universe will eventually give you something back. That goes for life as an artist/songwriter and I think that also goes for life in general as well.
Not all things that are good are inspiring when it comes to a great song. Extreme sadness/depression, anger, confusion, jealousy, hatred… these emotions have given me great material. Don’t run away from these negative feelings. Confront them, dissect them, and turning them into some poetic expression will probably be cathartic.
“Don’t run away from these negative feelings. Confront them, dissect them, and turning them into some poetic expression will probably be cathartic.”
“The Petty Narcissist,” the title track of my upcoming album, without going into personal detail, is an example of a song about a relationship of mine and it was written from a place of enormous pain. It was an extremely cathartic experience for me to write and finish that song and I was able to let all that pain go afterwards. It was healing. And I got one of my best songs out of it!
So to wrap this up and to bring things back full circle in regards to being an artist/songwriter - go with your gut… go with what you’re feeling… go with what inspires you, because in my opinion, if you do that, it’s coming from an authentic place, and for art to be good, it’s got to be authentic.
– JASON SHAND