Songwriting Magazine Autumn 2020: The Quotes

Quotes from Songwriting Magazine Autumn 2020

We pick out some wise words from 10 of the fine songwriters who are all featured in our latest issue

“Shine a lot on the stuff that makes life messy not on what makes life seem perfect. Social media has flooded us with a false representation of the human condition. Let ‘em know it’s B.S. Listeners won’t feel so alone.”


“Break your goal down to its parts. For instance, if you want to “be a better guitar player so you can write better country songs”, you might need to do things like work on alternate picking, chord voicings, research some guitar tones, play along with songs you love, and eventually write songs…”


“Repetitiveness is great. Alliteration is great! If you rhyme words that don’t necessarily rhyme but you slant rhyme them, that’s always fun… I also know if write catchy melodies that stick around the root note of the chord you’ll have melodies that everyone can remember.”


“… the more honest we as songwriters can be, the more open, the more we put it all out there, the songs become more relatable, not less. We’re all going through the same things. Our pain is not unique to us, we all share it. That’s what inspires hope.”


“That’s my suggestion, rewrite something and go at it from your point of view…I’m not suggesting you go out and rip-off another song. But you can take a song or a poem or even a short story and use it as the basis, because inevitably it’s going to lead you off in your own direction anyway, but it’s a good way to come unstuck.”


“You don’t write to have a hit, you just write what’s in your heart. You just write what you feel, that’s what I’ve always done.”


“A lot of writers that I’ve met have this sort of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ formula of ‘you can’t do this’ and ‘you can do this,’ and I hate that because I don’t think anything is going to progress in music if everyone’s got that attitude. Someone’s got to go, ‘How about just doing that because it feels good?’”


“What I try to do when I write songs is that they have to stand up to my favourite songs that I listen to. If I don’t get that same sort of feeling as I get from hearing one of my all-time favourite tracks, when I write a song, then the song isn’t good enough.”


“I used to find lyric-writing nightmarish. I had to find a way to plumb the depths of despair to produce something. I took a lead from a Brett Anderson interview. He spoke about having a lyric book. I started capturing thoughts that weren’t contrived. I log them in my iPhone Notes app. If I start shaping ideas I discard them. I call them ‘Real Thoughts In Real Time.’”


“People often ask if you start a song with a lyric or music, but for me, it’s usually a concept, or even a title. Once I know what I want to write about, I’ll match it with a chord sequence I’ve been noticing, or a melody that’s been hanging around. But I wouldn’t be able to process those musical vignettes if I didn’t have something I was excited to attach them to.”


Mike Batt at French House Party 2024

All these songwriters and more can be found in the Autumn 2020 edition of Songwriting Magazine, available to members at

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