Today we’re going to clear up what I see to be a common misconception in the world of songwriting. Obviously, songs are written for a reason. The writer feels something or experiences a situation that impacts them, or influences the way they see their life, and this becomes the subject of a song.


But these moments don’t have to be monumentally huge! In fact, some of the best songwriters know that it’s important to closely examine a single moment instead of trying to encapsulate the big picture into one little song. Sara Bareilles and Taylor Swift, two powerhouse female songwriters, have both discussed the idea of little moments becoming big hits.


Let’s say you’ve got a relationship you want to write about. If you want to write about the whole thing, write a song about how you both met, how it began. Write a song about the little discoveries you made about each other. Write a song about the breakup or happy ending.


My point is that writing the entire story into one song is nearly impossible. You could fill a whole album with songs about just one person, which is exactly what Adam Levine of Maroon 5 did with the album Songs About Jane. Instead of trying to pack all of the feelings, details, and events into one song, he wrote the album that launched Maroon 5’s career.


In an interview with The Guardian in 2012, Taylor Swift said, “there are so many emotions that you’re feeling, you can get stifled by them if you’re feeling them all at once. What I try to do is take one moment – one simple, simple feeling – and expand it into three-and-a-half minutes.” The ability to hone in on one specific emotion rather than try to tackle the whole story is what makes Taylor Swift such an effective songwriter and storyteller. The key is simplicity.


Sara Bareilles also uses this idea in her songwriting. When discussing her process with American Songwriter, “I don’t want to say exaggerate, because that makes it sound like it’s not true—but you can extrapolate a lot from a small incident. No one betrayed me to the depths of my being. That’s not where that song came from. But I think if you take a particular incident that’s highly emotionally charged, you can draw it out into something that’s even bigger than it is through a song. I think it’s an effective way to write.”


The next time you sit down to write a song with Lyricord, try this out for yourself. See if you can really dive into a single moment, a simple event. Recall all of the tiny details, review the thought process that you went through. You may just find yourself with great material, and a song that is brilliant in its simplicity.

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