On Songwriting part 10
by J.P. Kallio
Here’s a big thing that changed my songwriting. I realised that people don’t necessarily want to hear songs about me. It is natural starting point for us songwriters to write about our selves, and I still from time do it as well. But in my experience it only works if you are willing to tear your guts out for the world to see. Most songwriters are not willing, or able to do this. So I will take look here in to the another option, writing about your listener.
To do this you need to put your self in the shoes of who you are writing the song about. Understand where they come from, what they have been through, how they might feel about it. Never underestimate the importance of empathy. You want to reflect the listener a picture of themselves back at them, make them feel like you understand (this is much easier to do if you actually do understand). Make them feel like someone has been listening, and heard them, heard their silent cry, or frustration.
Many of us start songwriting form a quite selfish perspective. We want to be heard. We want to be seen. And that is fine, it’s what drives us in the early days. But as we hone our skills as a songwriter, we need to learn how to remove our selves from the songs and put the listener in to the song.
Think about it for a second, you are singing the song to someone, often a stranger. Why would they want to know how misunderstood you feel in your love life? But what if the listener feels the same way, and you can make them feel like you are singing to them about them? Surely this would make most of us listen. It is hard to walk away from someone when they are talking about you.
So think about how you can write about your listener, instead of your self. Tell them a story about them. And listen, truly listen.
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