1. #1

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    In particular, quotes that you like and find meaningful, perhaps as prods to work or perhaps solace when the work stalls.

    My signature here is my favorite such quote, from Leonard Cohen: "If I knew where the good songs came from, I'd go there more often."

    I also like this one from Bryan Adams (although I have never numbered him among my favorite songwriters): "A songwriter writes songs all the time, whereas just writing a song can be done by anyone, anytime."

    What are the quotes from songwriters that rattle around in your head?

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  3. #2

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    Personally, I don't consider that you create or write anything. The best way to think about it, for me anyway, is that you're an antenna. I sit down at an instrument-guitar, piano, bass or whatever-and play somebody else's songs. And usually within 20 minutes, more or less, suddenly something's coming. And that's when the antenna goes up. [He wets his finger and raises it in the air.] Incoming! So you get this sort of gift. You work it up a bit and then transmit it. The idea that "I wrote that," or "I created that" is an overblown artistic sort of thing that people love to put on writing songs. It can screw you up. If you think that it's all down to you, you've got another thing coming.


    -- Keith Richards interview with Guitar World, 1999



  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus
    -- Keith Richards interview with Guitar World, 1999


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    [Ahem] Keef might want to discuss this with Ry Cooder. Oh, wait. They did. With lawyers. See Jamming with Edward. Just sayin'.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    [Ahem] Keef might want to discuss this with Ry Cooder. Oh, wait. They did. With lawyers. See Jamming with Edward. Just sayin'.
    I remember having that album, though offhand the only thing I recall from it is their version of Elmore James' "It Hurts Me Too." (One of my favorite 8-bar blues.)

  6. #5

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    "If I knew I'd be singing this song the rest of my life I would have written something else" said Joe Walsh on one of the Crossroads concert DVDs before playing Rocky Mountain Way.

    Regarding the song Samson and Delilah, which Peter, Paul and Mary recorded as If I Had My Way, royalties were offered to Gary Davis if he identified himself as the composer. "I did not write that song", he said. "It was revealed to me".

  7. #6

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    All we do as songwriters is rewrite the songs that have impressed us till we find our own voice. It's part of learning the craft.

    Steve Earle

  8. #7

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    I feel these two quotes kind of cover part of the vast expanse where inspiration and/or creativity can be found.

    "All the inspiration I ever needed was a phone call from a producer." - Cole Porter

    "The recollection of how, and when and where it all happened became vague, as the lingering strains hung in the rafters of the studio. I wanted to shout back at it, 'Maybe I didn't write you, but I found you.'" - Hoagy Carmichael (on Stardust)


    And there's a quote from George Gershwin that I like, but it's about women and not songwriting.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    All we do as songwriters is rewrite the songs that have impressed us till we find our own voice. It's part of learning the craft.

    Steve Earle
    Great line. Hadn't heard that one.
    Reminds me of Gregg Allman starting to write songs and playing each new one for his brother Duane, who dismissed each in turn as a rehash of some familiar song. Until "Midnight Rider." That was the first one of Gregg's songs that earned a thumbs up from Duane.
    It's not that "Midnight Rider" was wholly unlike anything else; rather, it's more like itself than any other particular song.
    That process, though, of writing song after song that doesn't amount to much is what can lead to writing things that last. It's the "learn by doing" approach.

    What Steve is talking about here (or so it seems to me) is what could be called the 'classic' approach. That is, it is based on a strong sense of what one loves (or thinks is good, and not just good but really good) and the desire to come up with something that belongs in company with that.

    A wholly different approach is to try to do something wholly original or new or novel or unprecedented. A lot of people are turned that way. And they'll get no interference from me but it's not at all what I'm trying to do.