Good song / Lame song

What on earth makes song good?

You know, as opposed to bad?

This is a very critical question at this point in the process of a first ep, and I’m terrified to acknowledge that I simply don’t know.

Oh, I’m very opinionated. I’m tapping into the iPhone on the way home from a show where I watched a band with incredible songs, and a band with songs I couldn’t stay in the room for. I surely do not shy from judgement.


I think answer is both impossible and perplexingly nuanced if you dare to think about it. Little parts if the melody, the rhythm in the bridge, lyrics twisted in a way that feels fresh. You can definitely feel the magic when it’s right. But the scary thing is that the difference is so very subtle that it would be pretty easy to be that second band, with the songs that don’t…..quite……
And not know it.

On some level, who cares, right? Like what you like and go buy a beer during the other band, it’s all good.

But it’s not, because flip the interrogation light around on your own fledgling songs, and that same sense that is normally so certain gets all static-y and scrambled. I’m usually satisfied I know if a song is good by the second verse on the first listen these days.  But you can’t see your own stuff clearly. At all. All of my songs to me are some equal combination of lame, wonderful, plain, confusing, and the most honest thing I ever wrote. And pretty hard for me to sing. All at once. I know I mean them and I can sense some magic, but I’m never ever sure whether I’ve under or overcooked them.

So really, how do you know?

I don’t want to stack up hours of careful sound sculpting on a contrived chorus, I want to make the chorus amazing first. But it’s great now. Or maybe it would be wholely great if……

And see that ‘if’ there? That ‘if’ could send a man truly mad.

So I am very grateful and very reliant on the songwriting compass inside my friends (and their honesty in telling me where it points). But I’m also starting to realise that no one going to puff up my confidence in my own songs for me. It is my duty to make them how I like and then just get them done. If it turns out I am the guy with bland songs, then it is my job to not know it, and to carry on regardless. True story.

This will be a hard pill to swallow I think. I really really want to write good songs, but really no one gets to do that. Everyone simply gets the chance to write songs, and see how they go. Damn you, risky leap of faith.
It’s easy to see how someone would get hooked on pleasing an audience, you just want to know where you are.

Well if it is one big contraption running on work and hope, then I will do my darndest to add those two ingredients.
And then do it again and again.


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