I Could Write a Song About That

Growing up identifying myself as a songwriter posed a unique challenge among my friends. I would often find inspiration for songs in odd places or situations and the words “I could write a song about that” would automatically pop out. Some of my friends started to challenge me to “write a song about that” and it amazed them (and me) when I did, and usually pretty quickly.

The trick for me in spontaneously writing songs on the spot was to let go of judgment about being perfect (both in my singing of the song and in the words and melody of the song). And sometimes I had to let go of the judgment about lack of inspiration. Even if the idea was a good one, sometimes I wouldn’t be able to write a whole song about it. What I’ve learned over the years is that inspiration can be fleeting. And that the more I chase it, the harder it is to find.

As I’m working on my book and curriculum about using music, sound, and songwriting techniques for healing, I’ve done a bit of digging into my own past. I’ve been looking through old journals and song books. It’s amazing how many ideas I’ve come up with over the years.

Here’s a list of topics I’ve turned into finished (and not-so finished) song ideas. Maybe some will inspire you.

  • Making excuses about what we say and do
  • My step father’s profession (dentistry)
  • Our family dog
  • Brushing my teeth
  • Prolonging phone conversations
  • The birth of my son
  • Becoming a counselor (My academic advisor challenged me to write a song about why I wanted to become a counselor. I wrote and sang the song as part of the interview process to get into grad school.)
  • The experience of being in a pageant
  • Obsession with famous people
  • High school crushes
  • Salem Witch Trials (a high school project)
  • Deciding on whether or not to take a job
  • Driving to school
  • Eating lunch
  • Cleaning the house

While many of these aren’t the most profound of song topics, they certainly helped me find a voice as a songwriter and practice my skills, setting the foundation for the work I do today. After all, you gotta start somewhere.

Remember, a song doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be profound, especially when you’re just starting out. Here’s some quick tips when it comes to picking a song topic:

  1. Don’t look for inspiration. Let it find you. But be ready for it by always having a pen and paper handy to write down ideas.
  2. Sit down and brainstorm topics for a set period of time – even 5 minutes.
  3. Get silly with it. Singing about everyday tasks, like washing dishes or getting dressed, can help the time move along a bit faster. Plus it can unlock your inner comedian and help you connect with your creativity.
  4. Not every idea has to be a masterpiece. If you have an idea and work with it but it doesn’t pan out, let it go.
  5. Avoid the temptation to find the perfect inspiration or perfect lyrics. Perfection isn’t necessary to write songs, but a willingness to try new things and go with the flow are.

So, my challenge to you is to look at your everyday life, the things you come in contact with, the people you see, the places you visit. What could YOU write a song about? I’d love to hear your ideas. Please leave a comment below and let me know your song topic ideas, finished or not.

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