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There's a commonly accepted belief that the primary purpose of one's songwriting is to affect people's emotions. I work with the idea that thinking, feeling and willing are all important parts of us as human beings, and that each of these centers can be addressed through song.

So I've written a number of songs that require some thinking. I even have written some songs I consider philosophical, songs about time and destiny and so forth. Of course, it's tricky to think out just what kind of thinking someone can do as they are listening to the words of a song roll by in real time. There was a time, though, that I thought of these thinking songs as inherently cold or dispassionate. I now believe there is something you might call "thinking with the heart." (Someone's written a book about Emotional Intelligence; maybe they're on to the same thing.) There is a way you can look at situations with a kind of clarity that has to do with seeing what is going on in a new way, not just experiencing the tug of one's sympathies and antipathies.

Incidentally, I've also started to realize that there's nothing wrong with a song you don't "get" completely on first hearing. People write novels that you have to read several times. As a matter of fact, isn't that a sign of the depth of a work of art; that it keeps revealing new sides on repeated experience? I know that there are fiddle tunes I've played for years that never cease to reveal some new corner or twist when I play them again. So why should a two or three minute song have to be so transparent, such mind-candy, that you get it all the first time through and don't need to ruminate on it, puzzle, wonder about the ambiguities, etc.? Of course, it has to keep you engaged on first as well as subsequent hearings. So this isn't a substitute for crafting the song with the listener in mind.

 

Comment? Use the Tag "Emotion in Songwriting"

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