How I Write Songs


I am often asked how I go about writing songs.  I start in various ways, but usually with a concept of some kind.  I like to work with chord progression and lyrics at the same time, with the flow of melody and words interacting.  Sometimes the words are first.  Sometimes the melody is first.

When I wrote, "I Gotta Gal," the words and melody came into my head as I was driving down HWY 1 on the California Coast.  I grabbed my small digital recorder and sang the song into it.  When I got back home I had to sort out lyrics, melody, rhythm, key and chords.  Then I sang it over and over making small changes until it "sang" like a song.


Sometimes I will get a call and I am told that a song is needed that sounds like a particular style with a certain theme.  When that happens, I usually just think about it for awhile, and let my inner sound system start playing tunes I have heard.  I do not worry about whether on not something will come, because something always does.  If the song needs a particular instrument, for its hook, I'll start noodling around on that instrument.  Then. pop, the song is there and I work out the lyrics and the melody.


About the instruments.  I play several well enough to get along in the privacy of my own studio, but not on stage.  I [lay guitar, harmonica, bass, banjo, keyboard, lap steel guitar.  I will only get on stage with a guitar and a harmonica.