It’s rare for me to write a song on Tuesday and not want to tweak it several times that night, on Wednesday, Wednesday afternoon, night, Thursday and even throughout the following week. Therefore, I always schedule my recording sessions far enough ahead so I allow revision time.
But when I write on assignment for a film or TV project, and the song’s due that night, or at eight the next morning, I don’t have the luxury of time. So it has to click that first day. It’s not my favorite way to write, but as an assignment writer, who creates on demand, with a deadline, and is paid handsomely for it, I’ve learned that’s how I have to work. Period.
There’s collaboration software that some people use. One writer’s in Bend, Oregon. The other’s in Omsk, Russia. They send ideas back and forth. They skype, and finish songs. If that’s working for them, fine. But I always like to be in the same room with my collaborator. It’s more spontaneous and intimate for me. Since I usually write love songs, the more intimate and emotional, the better.
But if sending ideas back and forth from Slovenia works for you, do it.
Where’s the best place to write?
I prefer to be at an acoustic keyboard. Or guitar. With all phones off. But that’s not always possible. The longer I’ve been a writer, the more flexible I’ve had to become.
My friend, Jerry Corbetta wrote “Green Eyed Lady”. One Sunday afternoon, we were driving back to Santa Monica from Malibu, along blue-skied Pacific Coast Highway. Top down. Seagulls. Sweet, ocean air. As magnificent as the Pacific was on our right, traffic was stopped dead. Both ways. And the radio only played static. Splendid. Not my finest hour.
I was about to explode when Jerry said he was hungry. He was a vegetarian, so I knew our choices would be limited along fast food row ahead. Nonetheless, I jumped out of his copper Mustang and ran along the shoulder to the Frostee Freeze ahead, for two cones.
When I got back, traffic was still stuck.
At the time, I was a staffwriter at Interworld, and needed a new, uptempo song for Tina Turner. When I told Jerry, he started tapping a rhythm on the steering wheel. I tapped on the dashboard, exchanging words and riffs with him.
Within the hour, still stranded on that narrow highway, we had the beginning of “Too Big for Small Talk”. We used our time well. The driver of the yellow Penske pick-up next to us liked our song, as did the nuns in the camper behind us. I don’t remember who recorded our tune, but somebody did. How or where it was written doesn’t matter.
Once your songs are hits and nominated for Grammys, you can tell Jimmy Kimmel how they were brought to life.
Collaborating with me, for new lyricists, new artists and new songwriters
Once every year or so, I’m very pleasantly surprised by a melody or a title in the body of work written by a client who consults with me. If I believe in my heart that I can turn that idea into a hit song, I offer, with no strings, to co-write a new song, with the original one as the starting point, I’m proud to be her/his co-writer.
Before we start, we always have all the details in writing, signed contracts, and then move on to having a creative adventure together.
When you’re a songwriter, and committed to becoming successful as one, y’ never know where the next magical idea will come from.
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