How To Write A Hit Song
By Molly-Ann Leikin

Reviewed by Paul Moffett

Molly-Ann Leikin is clearly a woman who likes difficult challenges. After all, every serious songwriter, including, no doubt, Ms. Leikin, has a shelf full of books about "How To Write Songs." They (and she) have even read some of them. Maybe even all the way through one or two.

Yes, Virginia, many gifted songwriters can't write readable prose, particularly for the length of a book. Furthermore, when they try, they usually write much too much of it, since it is almost always the story of how they succeeded in the music business.

Blessedly, Molly-Ann Leikin does not fit this pattern.

She can write prose and interestingly, too. Her column for the Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase Musepaper no doubt helps her to write short.

Leikin is both an active songwriter and a songwriting consultant. Her experience helping people succeed as songwriters, as well as her own songwriting experiences, are the sources from which she draws for the material in this book.

The book is short, running just under one hundred pages. Each chapter is also quite brief, with the longest, about getting songs published, being twenty-three pages. All the requisite subjects are covered, with the exception of copyright, which is mentioned very briefly on page 89.

There are exercises all along the way and Leikin often mentions tricks, tips and traps to avoid. Having to deal with the difficulties other writers are having, she understands that one writer's bag of tricks may or may not be applicable to another's, so she presents them without insisting that they are the way. If her consulting methodology is similar, the clients won't lack for help.

My personal tests for reading books on songwriting are these: one, how far into the book do I read before I put it down and pick up my guitar; two, do I finish it; and three, did I learn anything that I still remember the next day? Leikin did well on three counts.

I stopped reading to play the Dictionary Game, which I thought very usable. I also liked the section on Power Phoning, although I don't have the chutzpah to try it. I don't think I want the highest-ranking General in the Air Force to call me back. I I also read it right to the end in two sittings, only stopping long enough to lose all the money I had at poker.

And finally, I immediately made plans to contact two local performers for whom I have long thought I could write but just hadn't moved on it. I've got these tunes, see ...

Books on songwriting generally come down to whether or not the reader feels simpatico with the author. If so, the reader will accept and learn from the good suggestions in the book. If not, the best tricks and techniques in the world won't mean a thing and won't take.

Molly-Ann tries very hard to be likable and simpatico, so she can get those lessons in.

She succeeds. Admirably.

The book is available at Hawley-Cooke Booksellers or it can be ordered from Hal Leonard Publishing, at 1- 800-637-2852.