Do you have songs that you just cannot stand? Many people do. While hit country music songwriters try their best to appeal to the broadest range of people they can, you can never please anyone. Here’s a little something to chew on: There are 7 billion people on this planet; the Beatles are the best-selling, biggest band of all time; yet there are still over 6 billion people who’ve never heard of or don’t care for the Beatles. The amount of people who don’t like something is always going to be far greater than the number of people who do – unless we’re talking about food or sex or something, of course. So, you probably have quite a few songs you hate!
But why do you hate them? It’s important that you ask yourself that question, if you’re a songwriter, because what you can do is take a song that you don’t like and actually use it to stoke your fires of inspiration to write a song that you do like, and hopefully a song other people will like. Maybe the song reminds you about a dog you lost, or a loved one, or a failed relationship. Maybe the song is sad and dredges up too many bad memories, but you hear it every time you have the radio on.
Don’t turn the radio off! You may hate it, but listen to it. Absorb the song. Learn the ins and outs of the lyrical structure and the chords. Why? Well, it’s a hit song, and you’re a country music songwriter trying to write smash country radio hits! So you want to take in the formula and get the gist of what makes the song so popular. Then you’re in a much better position to change the narrative and to reverse the song and write one that you enjoy. A woman leaves her man, and that hits too close to home? Well, write one about finding love instead of losing it. Use the songs you hate for inspiration to write songs you love.
Channeling That Songwriting Inspiration
For any songwriters, especially country music songwriters who are trying to tell a real story and aren’t relying on beats and mixes, it’s hard to just sit down with a blank page and to start writing. Most hit songwriters get struck with inspiration first. Or they go out actively seeking ideas. A light bulb went off in Edison’s mind, quite literally by the time he was done. It’s not as if he sat down in a dark room and thought about what he could invent. It could very well be that he burned himself on a lantern, hated the dang things after that, and used that to fuel the fires of his world-changing idea!
Songwriters need inspiration. Channeling songs you don’t like can help you to write some you do. Some people write songs about the songs they don’t like, and they wind up pretty good!
A great way that you can do this is to play the song back in your head the way you want it to be. A lot of us, songwriters penning country radio hits or not, often do this with things like TV shows and movies. There’s a TV series you love, but one of your favorite characters die or leave the show. Many of us spend time imagining the show with that character still there. We throw that character into scenes in future episodes, and we wonder how it would play out if he or she were still in the show. Do this with the song. Instead of a line like “She left me with nothing but my loneliness” in a heartbreak song, change that in your mind to “She found me and gave me nothing but happiness,” and really make it say what you want it to say.
Before long, you’re going to be dealing with a head full of great ideas to write a song, and that song may potentially be a smoker that you hear played on hit country radio one day! Something every song you’ve ever heard shares in common is that somebody had an idea and wrote the thing. So, as a songwriter, there’s nothing stopping you from writing one of your own. Don’t get angry or sad when that song plays. Sure, call it stupid and curse it if you must, but also learn from it and channel those feelings into your own song.
You may really surprise yourself with the final product.