Songwriting – Break Up With Your Girlfriend

“Songwriting – Break Up With Your Girlfriend” 

Friendly Disclaimer: The title isn’t meant to be gender specific, the statement I’m quoting just happened to be direct at me – a straight male.

Yes – there’s an explanation for the weird title, but we’ll get to that…

At risk of appearing to take advantage of well known name, I admittedly hesitated from writing this months ago. The advice I received was just too relevant and beneficial to ignore. This wasn’t a formal interview, or an interview at all, so I will simply call him “John”. 

Back in March I had the pleasure of sitting with a man many know most recently for producing multi-platinum records for the band 5 Seconds of Summer. I was familiar with him from his earlier years, helping some of my favorites from Good Charlotte to the Used put out great records.

There is not one secret to great songwriting, I’d consider it more of a recipe. John gave me a few vital ingredients…

Write Everyday

Simply put, practice makes perfect. John asked me what kind of writer I thought I was. Despite anything my answer was, he said “You should be writing a song everyday…if not more”. He has written countless songs, and says he still does at least a song a day.

Write the Chorus First

This specific piece of advice, stems from what he described as the lifeblood of the song. Every great song, has a great chorus – one that should hold a universal message. He made it clear, always start with the chorus. If you don’t have a strong chorus, you don’t have a strong song.

Run – Clear Your Mind

Going for a run, he said, was a great way to clear your mind. He spoke of his earlier years, spending time on his Vespa commuting around town, which turned into a great opportunity for him to clear his mind and come up with some of his best ideas.

Listen to the Beatles…a lot!

This one is pretty straightforward. Everyone in the room could agree that the Beatles are some of the greatest songwriters of all time.

Want to be great? Do as they do.

I learned a few daily habits of the band 5 Seconds of Summer, ones that are well reflected in the previous points. Everyday, the guys wake up and spend multiple hours at the gym. This helps them to stay physically fit, and for a vocalist, this is very beneficial. Then, they spend time in the studio every single day writing music. (Refer to the first piece of advice in this blog!)

“Break Up With Your Girlfriend.”

Right? If this caught you off guard, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. I’ll never know how literal is was meant to be, but I found my own meaning for it. My first question to you is…when is the last time you heard an amazing break-up album? Anything by John Mayer will do, but there are countless others. What I took from this statement was, great songs are written during times of heart break. Often times, I find myself writing when I can’t express that feeling any other way. Write when the emotion is so overwhelming that you just want to escape it. It’s the best escape I could ask for.

by David Kleinebreil

Photo by Roberta Sorge