Your comment at the end...not knowing whether or not someone's trying to pitch the one that's grossly underestimated in importance by just about everyone. I'm so glad you brought this up.

I get songs from people all the time, for evaluation, and I just ASSUME they're interested in getting the song cut by a major. That begs a very different kind of critique than one offered to someone who's in the novice stages of craft development. I've learned to ask what the intentions of the writer are. Naturally everyone's ultimate goal is a major cut, but does the writer really think THIS is the song for Alan Jackson's next record? If the answer is yes they need to be prepared for accepting world class criticism (not that my criticism is 'world class' in quality, but criticism geared for art competing in the top markets.

I've said this before: in no other arena are so many so clueless (yours truly included) about level of skill and accomplishment than in the arena of the musical arts, particularly songwriting. Acting might run a close second. I thought I had 10 songs that were ready for major artists, so much so that I moved to a new city, and I wouldn't play you those songs today. I still wonder how could this happen to a fairly reasonable, not too insane person like myself, but I think I have discovered part of the answer.

My theory is 2 part:

1.that it's almost impossible to quantify songwriting skill. Many sports skills are easy to fast, how long, how low, how high, how many, etc., but how do you quantify a great song lyric? You can believe with all your heart that you're ready for the olympics but if your bench press number is hovering a little above average.... In songwriting it's not easy to stick a number on a song regarding it's overall quality. I've attempted to come up with a system of quantification that I use in song evalutations that scores songs, but it's still highly subjective. It's useful as a first step....

2. it's impossible to appreciate the difference between good writing and great writing without learning something ABOUT writing. When I first started out I thought my songs were great because I managed to get them to rhyme, I said something about something that was important to me, and because they came from my heart (which, of course, I rhymed with start). But when I took a class in trout fly tieing my gross inadequacy was quite clear within the first few moments of tieing my first fly.

I get some really cool songs that are just really cool songs because that's what they are...really cool songs. Are they all ready for Alan Jackson or Martina McBride? Some are closer than others, but most aren't close in their first state. Do some of them move me to another dimension? Yeah, sometimes they do. Are they ready for creating joy in the hearts of those that hear them? Absolutely. Could they be 'gotten into shape' for Alan Jackson? Maybe, maybe not. Is the writer hell bent on becoming a professional songwriter no matter what? Maybe, maybe not. If so, is the writer ready to do the work and accept the criticism that goes with that? Maybe, maybe not.

If ya play a little baseball, and you have a bit of a knack for it (or maybe you don't have a knack but you simply LIKE playing baseball), does that mean you need to show up at Red Sox spring training as a walk on?

If I had a knack for playing baseball I'd need to explore local leagues (writers nights), identify the local talent (writers with experience who've maybe had some indy cuts or some holds), start training with weights and doing a couple hours each day on the treadmill (writing all the time, taking classes, reading books, going to song camps), studying other players, and scouting their unique abilities, etc. (studying other writers, identifying their strengths, etc.), etc. etc. etc.

Publishers hear from a LOT of walk ons...players with no local experience who are trying to enter the big leagues out of the box. We also hear from a lot of home town winners, maybe even reginal winners, who are doing eveything they can to become better players and are asking for help from more experienced players who have managed to at least break into the minor league, if not the majors, knowing full well that qualifying for the minors is a rite of passage toward becoming a major league player who's face is seen by millions during the world series.

Should anything less be expected or anticipated in the arena of songwriting?

Thanks for pointing this out.


Last edited by billrocker; 11/26/07 06:19 PM.