This column is dedicated to my songwriting readers. More likely than not, we've all had extensive bouts with writer's block at one time or another. If you're there now, I hope to help you with your dilemma. If you are feeling prolific today, save this info for future guidance.
There are three steps to solving the Syndrome of Blockage (S.O.B.). First, identify the cause. Next, take action to solve the S.O.B. Finally, you can write the song. Sounds simple because it is. As a matter of fact, remember - simple is always best. Usually, the solution is sitting right there on your face.
Although there may be a zillion personal reasons for the S.O.B, the most common cause is rutting. Same job, same home, same schedule, same song. There isn't anything new popping up, no profound lyrics screaming with the need to be heard. Below, I will give you a few suggestions to get you started, and you can take it from there. Remember, it's necessary to allow time for writing just as you would a nine to fiver.
Even if you just stare at the paper.
I've begun receiving an email newsletter full of informative, concise ideas, appropriately titled "Daily Inspirations for Songwriters." I recommend it, especially if your concentration span, like mine, is short.. To start getting it yourself, send an email to PitchOpps@aol.com and just type DI in the subject field. They send you a lot of fresh info in a compact amount of space. Hence their motto: "You can read it about as quick as you can delete it." Now. On to the course of action for the S.O.B.
My personal favorite cure for the S.O.B is to break up with someone. The painful separation from a loved one can bring forth gobs of emotion. Naturally, you should capture this emotion quickly and penthriftily, before the heartache wears off. While you're at it, make up some words of your own (see above). "Pompatus" and "Sussuddio" are prime Major Act examples of exercising one's rights as a victim of the S.O.B.
If you're working toward a country song, pick up some lingo. Go somewhere like New Haven, Kentucky and steal expressions like "Cuter'n a speckled puppy in a red wagon" or "Waller in the Holler" - phrases that you may not have thought of on your own. While you're at it, stop in at a local tavern and just hang out by the women's bathroom. After you get the crap beat outta you, examine the traveling impulses: Is it your head? Would you be better off dead? Or maybe your spine, were you ... out of line? Unless you're writing country, though, try to avoid these kinds of obvious rhymes.
Look through the dictionary, point randomly at a word, use it as a focal point for your lyrics and rhyme it. I just picked "enlighten" and I choose to rhyme it with a reference to "Titan," which is the largest of Saturn's satellites. Notice that by avoiding the obvious rhyme "frighten," I now have a song about spiritual independence, rather than one of female frailties. Are you now beginning to see how easy it is to get rid of the S.O.B.?
It's important to GO CO-DEPENDENT. This is a big one, as most Grammy winning songs deal with the inability to live without the other person. If this is uncomfortable for you, head the other direction. Explain lyrically how the other person is going to miss you, since you were the best he/she ever had. Get as cocky as possible, because this is intriguing to the repressed audience. If you're feeling really capable, go on and talk about how disgusting you are. A couple of examples of this are "Creep" by Radiohead and "Loser" by Beck. Those songs are just plain sexy.
Make up your own dance. Be it the Hokey Pokey or the Humpty, anything goes when you throw down a canned dance beat. You can rhyme anyway you like when booties are bouncing, and the goofier the better.
Move. If your juices have quit flowing, just change your residence. An out of town move is best, dredging up fears of instability and hopelessness, especially if don't have a job waiting for you.. Restless hearts can turn desperate, creating the perfect canvas for a soul-wrenching zinger of a song. The S.O.B can just fly right out of you when you're vulnerable.
I moved six times one year, right before I recorded my last CD. If you have the resources, go on and move to a foreign country, like Mexico. Try to drink beer in the back of a pickup truck while being towed to an undisclosed location. Terror blends well with beautiful countryside (La Isla Bonita, etc.). Honestly, foreign works well as an over-all S.O.B buster - get a Frenchwoman to say ANYTHING on your song and we horny Americans'll eat it up. Rod Stewart and Brian Ferry have proven that to be a fact.
The best part is, you can always rehash. A good song is always better the second time around: it was the record industry that invented the term "spin-off," after all. In case you haven't figured it out by now, I have writer's block. So, when you see this column repeated in a future issue of this publication, you can wink knowingly and say . . . "Ahhhh, Muffy's got the S.O.B. again."
Call or email me with your band/ Mid City info:
458 - muff / firstname.lastname@example.org