Since so many people who visit my blog are involved in music, I thought I would post this question I received from Jen and my response. Feel free to leave your opinions, thoughts and suggestions for Jen, too.
Question from Jen: I know you have a CD, and I'm wondering if you write songs? I'm starting to and I just went to a music conference last week that gave me some really good ideas. I wrote about it on my blog. Let me know if you have any ideas of your own to add in. Hearing different opinions helps, and I'm trying to get better.
My open response: Hi, Jen - I’m glad you enjoyed the music conference.
To answer your question left on my blog, I have written songs but I have not recorded any of them. I know that seems strange, but the songs I have written are better suited for another voice. Several years ago, I wrote a song for the Western District Youth Conference theme and the choir sang it. For my recent CD, I wanted to sing songs that ministered to me in a personal way and that I enjoyed vocally. Maybe my next album will take a different path.
From what I have learned in the many song-writing classes I have taken, I would disagree with the opinion of “don’t write just to write.” People who have written Christian songs that won Dove or Grammy Awards, are songwriters who try to write a song everyday. They write everyday to gain experience and out of the hundreds of songs they write, they pick the very best to record. Unless you get busy writing, you will always be a beginner.
Pentecostals sing an unbelievable number of Andre Crouch songs. Many of these were written in the 70’s, but today I hear his songs used many times over in numerous churches. Andre Crouch has won seven grammy awards and sold millions of albums. He says, “I try to duplicate what I feel in my heart.” Even after 40 years of songwriting, he started using a digital program, Logic, and asked Swiss singer/songwriter Saschka Wittau to help him. During a month and a half of working with her, he had written at least 80 songs. Although his songs have earned him millions of dollars, he continues to follow his passion and write.
I believe we need Pentecostal songwriters to get their songs into the mainstream and win awards. Now don’t misunderstand me - we write, sing, perform, as praise to God, and every song is a short sermon. If Pentecostal songwriters got their songs recorded by top Christian artists, then the Pentecostal message would spread even further. We cannot compromise our convctions in doing so. I really believe we need more Pentecostal artists albums on the Christian bookstore shelves.
I have noticed beginner songwriters not only tend to keep songs in the same vein musically, but also lyrically. Recently, a beginner songwriter asked my opinion of a newly released CD. My response was, “You are doing good but…….think about every song on your project." Each of them were the same story. In a nutshell, they were, “everything was terrible and bad then Jesus helped me.” It is wonderful when things go wrong that Jesus helps us, but don’t you have some good days just being friends with Jesus? Is everyday bad? This got the young songwriter thinking. I expect to soon hear some other songs from this writer that will tell me how beautiful the world is with Jesus and how much fun it is to worship Him. Find something new each day and write about it.
A benefit to writing good songs and getting them published, is the potential to be recorded by an established artist who would pay good royalties to use the songs. When a song is written, it needs accompaniement that compliments the lyrics. I think picking on the song “Blessed” was a little unfair. Have you heard Rachel Lampa sing “Blessed?” It is a fabulous song and it became a number one hit. I think the lyrics and music gel quite well and Rachel sings it with conviction. The problem is not with the song but rather with the performance of other singers. If the clinician heard the song and it depressed him, then it was a vocalist/musician error and not the song as it was written.
Two more points before I stop this long response. :~)
1. Make sure the song is grammatically correct. Write the lyrics and read them out loud. Do they make sense? Do they jump from first person to third person? Make sure the song is consistent. Sort of like how some preachers talk - “I was studying the Bible and we felt the Spirt…” Is it me or we?
2. Have a message in your song. Keep it spiritual and Godly. I don’t like shallow songs. A good song will touch your heart, give you chill bumps, make you want to cry or dance, and cause you to feel something deep within your spirit. Several years ago an alternative Christian group sang a song, “Rubber canoe, rubber canoe, Jesus, I’m giving my love to you…” Sorry, but it never touched my heart.
Good luck, Jen, in your songwriting.