“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.” – E.Y. Harburg
Thank you Emily Ford for sending me this quote. I love it. Edgar (Yip) Harburg was one of the original great American lyricist, and he understood something about songs that I hope the rest of us never forget. Among all the art forms out there, a song, that amazing combination of words and music, has the unique ability to help us… well… feel a thought. And that uniqueness carries with it the power to help us consider our lives and stories from new and different perspectives. And that sort of consideration can lead to a life-changing experience. That’s why great songwriting still matters, and I believe will always matter, whatever becomes of the music biz.
Learning to be a great songwriter is the trench work of any music career. It’s no wonder then why great songs are so few and far between. Most people aren’t willing to do the long, arduous, frustrating, disciplined job of doing what’s required.
I hope if you feel any nudge to start writing songs, that you follow that nudge with as much heart as you can give it. And if you’re already writing, that you recommit to doing it with more energy and vision than you ever have.
Maybe for a season, you give yourself space to not worry about radio, hits, critics, or comparison. And if you can create that space for yourself, fill it with a fearless prayer to unite words and melody in a way that gives the rest of us an opportunity to feel what’s on your mind.
Here are some books on writing that have helped inspire me, and many others I’ve worked with over the years.
And here’s a very small list of a few songs that have helped me to feel a thought…