MALAPROP

hi gang....as i've been churning out songs for the past fifty years, i thought i would share some thoughts on the process.... i started playing in bands in 1959, but it wasn't until 1964 that i first attempted to write some songs... the initial process was arduous, as i sat there with a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus, and struggled to rhyme "moon, june, and spoon"...but, i persevered and wrote 300 songs in the first ten years....and even wrote up lead sheets and sent my dough off to the Library of Congress, to get these masterpieces copyrighted....then i threw them all away...and started over.... because, like many of you...i was WRITING BACKWARDS....by this i mean that i would start strumming a guitar, or plinking on a piano, and mutter some stream of consciousness drivel and try to cob together something resembling a "verse"...and then another...until i would attempt to figure out what this added up to...and i would try and write a "chorus"....and so on....BACKWARDS... because one would never write a term paper in an English class like this....where we are taught to start with a topic and write a topic sentence, and so on....the advantage being that with this discipline, we have an idea of what we are writing about from the get-go...whereas, writing a song by wandering around in a daze might be fun, but it's hardly makes for a song that has something strong to say...so, i decided to turn it all around...and, for the next several decades, would keep a list of hooks...and, when the urge came to write a song, i would start putting some groove together with some chords, and then STOP....and pull out the list of hooks....and decide which hook matched with the wa of the "music" i was writing and then proceed with the process of putting a song together....this proved to be a great improvement in my "process"... you might ask, "what is a HOOK?"....good question, because most people, including most songwriters actually have no idea....they think a hook, is simply a title, or a concept, that the song is built upon...but, that is a very limited appreciation of the concept of a HOOK....which became clear to me when i had a major epiphany and realized that "songwriting" is more than just putting some narrative to a few chords and a melody....a SONG is everything that one hears when that finished song is being played (whether live or as a recording)....if you are doing it right, every element of a finished production is a HOOK...the right snare sound playing the right groove is a hook...the right guitar riff with the killer tone is a hook....the example i would give is a song that was a monster hit perhaps thirty years back..."SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY" by the FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS....which starts with the mondo pop of the synthesized snare (which you can feel in your back pocket from a mile away)...and the simple dada dada of the lead guitar....that's a hit song even before the singer opens his mouth....so, if you're doing this right, there is no holy trinity of writing: WRITING / ARRANGING / and PRODUCING....because all of that is "writing"...and the arrangement and the production contain no gratuitous baroque filigrees and adornments, and no generic parts...no standard drum schtick...no predictable bass lines and tone....because everything in this song is CREATIVE and ORIGINAL and the whole process is an exploration into the unknown...the whole song is a HOOK.... this is all well and good, until i outgrew even this approach...and threw my hook list away...and learned to just let 'er rip....which is only possible after you have successfully climbed the highest mountain in the CREATIVE ALPS....and learned WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY....this process demands that you stop BUYING YOUR OWN BULLSHIT, and come to grips with your strengths and your weaknesses...and maximize the former and minimize the latter....this allows you to stop thinking about writing and simply allow your intuition to flow... to be continued in chapter 2...