Why do your songs suck?

Why do your songs suck?
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#41

I don’t know why anyone would want to do that. Nobody cares what the song title is, they care about the melody, lyrics and the performance. How many times have you heard someone say, “What’s that song called?..The one that goes da da da …?” It’s because they remember the melody of the song not its title.

I won’t deny that a song title is important - simply because it’s a minor part of the package, so certainly give it your best shot, but if I had eight hours to write a song I would be spending at least 7:58 on the song itself. In any case, the song title is usually derived from the lyrics - in other words, you tend to inadvertently write the song title when you write the lyrics.

I find it nothing short of bizarre that even one songwriter is saying it, let alone great numbers of them. Can you post some links please?


#42

No sorry I have no links. Just over the years I have read in magazines and books.

Actually I thought the guy in that interview with URM explained it well why you would think of a title first. Actually I think it was his manager or publisher who suggested it.

It always sounded counter intuitive to me until he explained it.

Only problem is I think he uses ithis technique for pop songs. So you may not like what you come up with even though almost everyone else will.

Lucky for me I like pop music so I’m gonna give his suggestion a go next time I try and write a song.


#43

I can’t imagine writing a title for song until it was finished… although I do have a short list of phrases that would make nifty song titles, and if I can manage to craft a tune that fits, will one day use them.

I will say though that twice I have come up with a title first, as the germ that sparked the song: No News Is Good News, and Paralysis By Analysis. Those came as part of the overall rush of inspiration that made the songs happen.


#44

This pretty much nails it. If you have a song to write, write it. Get it done, and evaluate it after you’ve put some work into it. I find I don’t really have that great of an idea of how a song is going to turn out until I actually complete it, or at least get it to the point where it can be refined if needed.

When you think about it, it’s really pretty pretentious to believe anything is original to any major degree at this point. There are parts of songs, or hooks or choruses that catch your ear that can be considered pleasing, but as AJ said, there’s only so many possibilities. Think of the Beatles, or Led Zeppelin, both of whom decided they needed to go study Eastern culture and music to add originality to their music. Hard to say how original it was to listen to Ravi Shankar or street musicians, and then say that by incorporating elements into their music they became “original”.

There is no big mystery to this. Write what you can write, throw away your pretense, which for the most part would paint you into your corner of influences anyway, and get something done. If someone has something truly original to say, it will make its’ own way out.


#45

Good points Bob, but I think most of us who have this particular concern realize nothing is truly “original”; we’re just trying to avoid the reaction “oh, that sounds just like X song or artist” etc. Just trying to get a fresh spin or take on things and not sound completely duplicative.


#46

Point taken, but humor me by keeping in mind all the great I, IV, V songs we’ve loved through the years that don’t even attempt to be original. They become original in the delivery. As long as you inject your particular perspective into the composition, you are accomplishing your goal.

Write a pretty stupid, fast song every once in a while, get it done quickly, then go back after a couple of months and see how it feels to listen to it. If it evokes anything in you, you’ve done your job.


#47

We are saying pretty much exactly the same thing. :smile:


#48

Why do my songs suck?? ok, ill give 2 reasons of the dozens that probably exist

Because my songs are an extension of my personality. So all of my character flaws creep in lol. I procrastinate, im lazy (but a perfectionist sometimes too), im HYPER super self critical and full of doubts to offset the huge ego and self confidence. So whatever comes out musically depends on which part of the rollercoaster im on at that moment.

All that being said, I see 2 major problems.

  1. Everything is done “in one shot”. One sitting, there is no going back and fixing things etc. for instance some of you have heard the song “Happy Birthday Sugarboo”. Well, that was a one day wonder. I think I had the drums programmed the day before or whatever, but other than that, I woke up that morning and wrote/played/sang/mixed the whole song because it was for a girls birthday that next day and I was going to post it before I went to work that morning.

And generally my stuff is done like. The drums will be programmed beforehand. Then either on an off day or after work I will sit down and write/record all of the rhythm guitars for a “song” in about a 2-3 hour sitting. So there is no forethought into tones or chords or whatever, its all done in the moment. No going back and editing etc.

Same for vocals, generally whatever vocals I have laid down have been done in one shot.

Lyrics same way, except often the lyrics will change as I start singing or they will be more or less scribbled out on the spot while singing lol.

So for whatever reason I absolutely HATE going back and working on stuff. If it doesnt get finished fast then it doesnt get finished.

I have literally hundreds of drum/guitar “songs” where there is intro/verse/chorus/bridge/solo section/outro etc but with no bass or vocals

example? sure. Here is just one I grabbed as an example. I could post at least 50 like this where a considerable amount of work was invested but it was never “finished”. Nothing “wrong” with it at all. Strong sort of “southern” flavor that leads into a heavier grunge feel on the chorus etc. I could easily swap the EZ Drums for one of my newer kits and remix it etc.

The song already has a lot of character etc. So why isnt that song finished and released to the public?? uhmm, because I suck as a person?? probably

or this one which essentially is a “complete” demo as far as having music and lyrics/vocals. The vocals would have to be redone and bass added and solos or keyboard pads or whatever. and obviously id probably axe the intro vox where i goofed off emulating a harmonica with my vox lol.

yet again, that was a one day wonder and I cant seem to be bothered to go back and fix/finish it since I guess i realize it wont be “perfect” anyway

its not looking good lol

  1. too MUCH creativity. I:E: too many possibilities, no focus. too many options…so how does one start??

Should I go in a vanHalen direction? Zz Toppish? Grunge/AIC/STP feel? Should I do some blues songs? Wow, why dont I go out on a real heavy vocal trip like Queen or the Byrds or the Beatles?? Should I really focus on a heavy guitar shred vibe to show off the recent hard scale practice?? Wow, I should really do some acoustic 12 string stuff. I need to do some open tuned stuff

Who should I sing like? Roth, Coverdale, or go on a Roger Waters trip? Should I try a higher sort of Ray Gillen/mark Slaughter vibe?

See my point? How to get started with a clear enough vision to be able to see a project, or at least ONE SONG all the way through to where it is completed and I am proud of it.

example. here is a recent thing I worked on (ITS NOT MIXED, DONT FREAK OUT). This is sort of the direction I want to go…but how is that even related to the “homeward Bound” song above?? is it even the same guy? yes, its me lol. And I could just as easily go into a heavy layered vocal Beatles/eastern vibe (with my new EHX Ravish Sitar pedal lol)

So why do my songs suck? Because my work habits and workflow suck and I dont have a clear vision of what I want to do. Without a vision the people perish. Im the classic “why finish ONE song when i can start three more instead?”

and of course part of the focus problem is that question of "what do I do with the songs if I ever felt they were finished properly???

When I think of words like “marketing strategy” “web presence” “copyright” etc…my head spins and I just end up watching old Bruce Lee documentaries or Twilight Zone episodes etc


#49

Dude, I think you realy have to get high sometimes and learn to let go of things :stuck_out_tongue: I didn’t read ALL of it, but I read [quote=“Jon-Jon, post:48, topic:1268”]
2) too MUCH creativity.
[/quote]

and a bit further, and I know the problem :slight_smile:I have had trouble with this one for quite some time. Its only in the last year that I became more relaxed in this. I don’t know how old you are right now, but it started around my 30’s. I’m become more and more at ease and calm, and also in making music it helps a lot.

BIG TIP: don’t think before you start writing, just play someting while recording, and listen. If you’re not sure after that listen, try adding some drums, and then decide if the part is worth making something out ot not. It not, throw it away and start again, if it grooves and makes you feel something, just try to stay in the zone, and ad another grove to it, and keep going :slight_smile:
All the times I started thinking before writing ended up being waste of time.

Just today I had an epiphany about why my writing has improved a lot the last halve year. And its because I’m writing for a project I’m going to sing myself. So as a guitar player, I have to take in account that I cant make it to complicated, cause I still have to be able to sing on it later on. That made me write more organicaly. So maybe thats something that can help. Before I was looking to far all the time. Not that every sucked, but it went to the technical side to fast. Now its more with a flow.It made me feel comfortable playing more “cliché” stuff.

What I also do sometimes, to come back to the first thing i said, is smoke or eat some weed, and listen to some music, then my head get rolling automatically. I hook up my guitar to the computer, and start recording. afterwards I start using parts of it, and adding drums and stuff to it, just going with the flow, not worrying about the details. For me, and I highlight “FOR ME” this can be of some help sometimes, cause my head can be kinda chaotic most of the time, but with smoking some I get more focused on 1 thing at a time. Just a thought :stuck_out_tongue: Don’t wanna come over all dopy :stuck_out_tongue:


#50

I’ve really enjoyed reading through this thread. Now to move on to the next part of what I was asking…

What are some of the steps that you’re making to take your music to that next level?


#51

First, I’m studying a bit on the craft of songwriting, trying to learn the language better. When I do get those moments where some form of inspiration strikes, I want to be able to execute. It’s been slow going, given my sparse free time, but I’ve made some progress on that.

Second, I’m just continuing to soak up knowledge on the details of the mixing process-- reading Mike Senior’s book, trying to be active in discussions here, etc.

Or as one of my laboratory catchphrases goes, “Keeeeeeeeeeeep going…!”


#52

I’ve just bought a non-vibrato arm guitar so that I can downtune easily. I fancy doing some of that low-end chugging stuff, but with a vibrato arm it has always seemed like too much of a hassle.


#53

It’ll do wonders for your bending also!


#54

No kidding. After 30-odd years on a Floyd Rose I had no idea that you actually don’t need fingers with the power of a monster truck to bend a note. Still haven’t written that drop-tuned song but I’m thinking about it. A bit.


#55

For me with guitar playing there have been a few things that over I adjusted over the years to try and better my performance.

I experimented with picks, as most of you probably did, and ended up with a 1.5mm hard-ish nylon pick with some grip on the sides. They are pretty durable, so I can do relativly long with 1 pick. I baught 100, so I’m playing for years without ever having to go to the store for picks :stuck_out_tongue:

For strings I also tried a few things. Now I almost only play on 7strings, so it was quite a bit of testing before I found a set I was happy with.I got a .010-.046 set with a .060 on the B string. Its pretty thick for a lot of people. A lot want it at least 0.09, but 0.010 is actually not that hard. The higher tension in the strings make it easier to play 16th notes witch I do a lot when playing metal. 5years ago on my 6string I played with a set that had a 0.013 on the high E string. THAT was hard :stuck_out_tongue: The sound is awesome though.

I recently bought my first V guitar, and mainly from an ergonomic point of view. Of course it looks freaking bad-ass on stage as well, but for met, again with the 16 notes, and the down picking, having the extra space for your arm to rest, so that you can put your wrist under an angle, it makes it MUCH easier to maintain a long series of notes without cramps. Try out an X shape or a V shape, or a few, to see what I mean, and I bet you’ll find it plays a lot easier.


#56

[quote=“DeRebel, post:55, topic:1268, full:true”]I recently bought my first V guitar, and mainly from an ergonomic point of view. Of course it looks freaking bad-ass on stage as well, but for met, again with the 16 notes, and the down picking, having the extra space for your arm to rest, so that you can put your wrist under an angle, it makes it MUCH easier to maintain a long series of notes without cramps. Try out an X shape or a V shape, or a few, to see what I mean, and I bet you’ll find it plays a lot easier.
[/quote]

Ages ago, as a teen, I think it was my 2nd guitar, was a really crappy Gibson Explorer knock-off with a neck as thick as a baseball bat. I remember two things: the widening gap between strings and fretboard as you went up the neck, and the ability to comfortably rest your picking arm on the guitar body.

Since I don’t play live anymore, I might have to start looking into Explorers just for the ergonomic factor. Not sure an audience could handle the cognitive dissonance of my jangle-power-pop music and that guitar shape. Or maybe that’s the perfect gimmick? hmmm…

but back on topic, ergonomics probably won’t make my songs any better. I need a magic plugin, unfortunately.


#57

Well :slight_smile: Yes and no.
Yes:
If the ergonomic upgrade makes you play better, it will ultimately make your songs better as well :slight_smile:
No:
It won’t make you much more creative so on that point you’re absolutely right. where is that plug in when you need it :stuck_out_tongue:


#58

For a start: I don’t think my songs suck. I may have thought at times my previous song was better than the latest one. I might have thought that my song was a hell of a lot better than the commercial crap on the radio. I have at times been frustrated that I wasn’t bold enough to demand attention for my songs (in fact I wrote a song about that :sunglasses:). I have accepted that, whilst my songs are not bad at all, they are not going to change the world and that my audience will be about as limited as my singing voice. [quote=“holster, post:1, topic:1268”]
Are lyrics incredibly difficult for you? Why do you think that is?
[/quote]

Yes and no. I have to be in the right frame of mind, enough rest and peace - usually when I’m on holiday. And then I have to let it flow, and give it quite a few tries. Often I find a nice riff but nothing else comes. Usually the hook comes first (if it comes). Unfortunately the hooks tend to come when I’m playing simple chords at mid tempo, much less often when I find an exciting funk riff or whatever (I’ve come up with quite a few funk riffs, but so far only one funk song). But the hook is definitely the key. Once I got the hook the song writes itself, often in less than an hour. But unfortunately this happens at most once a year these days (when I was 18 that would have been maybe 10 times a year).

Sounds familiar. Usually I’m too tired to come up with something different. Lately I’ve discovered You Tube (don’t laugh) as a source of learning how to play old favourites. Not to cover them, but just to learn a few small secrets that add character to my guitar playing. Mastering just one new trick can trigger a new riff of my own.

Just one more thing I’d like to add after reading about some of the more insecure fellow Indiens: don’t be afraid of simplicity. I commented on an original Chordwainer cover of Lucinda Williams “Blue” on an other thread and I was (not for the first time) struck by how incredibly simple the song is and yet powerfull (even in Dave’s version :wink:). If you have a hook that grabs you by the balls (or whatever other body part) because the music and lyrics add up, then that’s all you need to write a simple but great song. I think awareness of the importance of a good hook is possibly the most essential ingredient of good song writing. Being a good guitarist can help you in your songwriting, but I suspect chances are that great dexterity on the fretboard will more likely tend to distract from the real goal of just writing a great song. Same with an amazing singing voice: sure it’ll help you create a great performance, but I’d rather listen to a weak performance of a fantastic song than an amazing vocalist singing a boring lousy song. And that’s not just an old folky talking, I would bet that it applies to any type of music, even death metal.


#59

Just another thought on Do you feel like you lack any songwriting skills in particular?

I hear folks talking and encouraging newbies starting out do a lot of reading on “how to” write and produce a great song. Step by step methodology is spelled out to get that beginner in the right direction. My question is, does one sacrifice originality when you use someone else’s ideas? How can the song be “you” if someone told you how? I haven’t had any success in the many years I have written songs, so my thoughts don’t carry much weight. I try not to be at all similar and maybe that is a curse. ha ha Like I said, just a thought.

Sincerely

Paul


#60

The way I approach songwriting is - Anything goes…I try not to limit myself to boundaries. If I feel like I’m in a rut, I’ll write music in a different genre, even if I’m not really well versed or don’t know anything about that genre, and even if I don’t like that genre. Fortunately writing music is so different from listening to music…I enjoy writing anything, whether I think it’s crappy or good, but I can’t tolerate listening to music that I think is crappy for any extended amount of time.

Seems like most, if not everyone here, including myself is putting limits on their creativity and productivity. It reminds me of when some people want to get fit. They think about getting in shape and improving their health but they overthink it. There isn’t any big secret to becoming fit. You just need to MOVE ! It’s the same with songwriting.Creating anything starts with action. Remember the slogan “Just Do It”? By taking action we start the ball rolling…the ball will gain momentum…eventually the ball will roll over a few decent songs and maybe a lot more.