I expect all songwriters have different processes, routines and techniques of putting songs together. I even have different processes, routines and techniques to myself. I don’t write songs the same way I did two years ago. I don’t even feel that I write songs the same way that I wrote my last one. I’m now contemplating getting started on a bunch of songs for release this year and I’m finding that I don’t know quite how to approach them. I’ve a few things that I’ve started writing recently that I’ve stopped because I felt myself falling into forms and themes that felt too familiar. The more I write, the more I become aware of patterns emerging in what I do – and the more I try to step away from them into new territory.
I’m aware there’s a growing risk of me falling into a verse, verse, chorus, verse, instrumental, chorus, verse, playout format. It’s okay to have the odd one among several songs having that structure but I want more. I also want to explore different themes in my songs and not just write maudlin reflections on our place in the universe. I want to break out of the strict metre cage I’ve built around my lyrics and use blank verse instead. I’ve followed a very narrative form in my lyrics. I now want them to be more of a snapshot – less concerned with the beginning, middle and end. Also, I want to have a few upbeat tunes rather than my usual aching, post-folk meanderings.
I’ve always written songs that are quite personal but I might try writing songs about other people. I like songs that are provocative. I might try to be a bit more gobby. Might stop trying to be deep and clever and try to be cool. I might stop writing when I’ve got a handful of good words and just work with them, rather than forcing myself to write more and end up with a whole that’s just alright.
But before I try any of that, I really need to get myself and my guitar to sit down with that pen and that notebook. I need to focus and I need to concentrate. As we embark on year 2 of lockdown my friends, that is my biggest obstacle.