I kind of want chicken wings. Did you know that wing sauce is just hotsauce and butter? That’s it. No fanciness. That’s the whole list of ingredients, man. Wow. Simplicity is best about ninety nine percent of the time. I noticed, as a songwriter, traveling around and talking to other various self important dicks like myself about the way we come up with the bullshit that we come up with, that inevitably if you ask someone about a song, one you REALLY love, the song he/she wrote that is the song that kind of makes the album, defines the band or whatever, they will, 100% of the time say something like “oh yeah, it’s kinda weird. That song just came out in like, three minutes. It kind of wrote itself.” Simplicity is best when it works out, man.
When I write songs, if they don’t start coming together within about three minutes, I abandon them. This isn’t because I have a short attention span. It’s because if the best songs all come out immediately, then logic would dictate that the ones you slave over tend to not be as good, and I don’t want those songs on my records. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, I stick to the basic, “if it’s not flying right out, writing itself, it’s no good” school of thought.
Here’s my lesson for you all out there. If you start something, and it doesn’t shape up immediately, well, quit. Never try. Nah, that’s really not the point. The thing is, I’ve written a ton of songs…thousands. Most of them are dogshit awful. There are lots of people on this earth who think ALL of them are dogshit awful, but whatever. Fuck those people. I’m not dealing with them right now. My point is, that after all this time, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on if something is gonna work or not within the first few minutes.
Whatever. Is the songwriting process interesting? Nah. It’s dumb. I write words first, then music. There you go. Secrets revealed. I write a page or two of words and then start strumming a guitar. Ninety percent of the time, I put the guitar down, frustrated and go get a beer or something. The other ten percent of the time, my whole day is ruined, because that means I have to get out the 8 track and record the fucking thing so I don’t forget it. When I’m really cranking, like when I’m actively trying to write a record, I’ll write one to three songs a day. They almost all suck. But it’s like anything. If you want to do something well, up to the best of your ability, that is, you need to work at it, practice. There’s no way to write a good song without writing a bunch of bad ones. It can’t happen. It’s like comedy. Every stand up in the world will tell you that the only way to become a good stand up is to bomb over and over and over again. You can’t do a good act until you’ve done thousands of bad ones. This is true for anything. You can’t be a great basketball player, or orator, or bartender even without being terrible for a while. People think, for some reason, that songwriting is different. Like if you’ve got ‘it’ whatever it is, then you’ll just write good songs. No. Not the case. It takes work and it involves wading through a bunch of crap. I don’t care if your favorite songwriter is Billy Joel, Billy Corrigan, Tom Gabel or Cher. They all write turds. It’s only the BEST songs that even make it to a place where other people see them, and it’s only the BEST of those that get recorded, and then it’s only the BEST of those that make the record, and lots of records still end up with bad songs on them…you see?
Whatever. I don’t care. I’m getting hungry. Get out there and write me a record, people.