11 favorite quotes: songwriting

Apr 27, 20140 Comments Uncategorized

fc,550x550,blackAs I embark on a month-long composition and songwriting residency, I’m looking for a few sparks and reminders.  I must say, I’m not a huge fan of top ten lists.  The whole trend just seems like a way to nibble quick appetizers and put off the main course.  But here are a few gems from some of my favorite writers.  Have a bite but save room for supper. 

“Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them. Sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers.” -Tom Waits

“I wanted to understand things and then be free of them. I needed to learn how to telescope things, ideas. Things were too big to see all at once, like all the books in the library—everything laying around on all the tables. You might be able to put it all into one paragraph or into one verse of a song if you could get it right.”
-Bob Dylan

“I’ve always held the song in high regard because songs have got me through so many sinks of dishes and so many humiliating courting events.”
-Leonard Cohen

“It is the haunted premises of longing that the true love song inhabits. It is a howl in the void, for love and for comfort and it lives on the lips of the child crying for his mother. It is the song of the lover in need of her loved one, the raving of the lunatic supplicant petitioning his God…The love song is the sound of our endeavors to become God-like, to rise up and above the earthbound and the mediocre.” – Nick Cave

“Songwriting is a bitch.  Then it has puppies.”
Steven Tyler

“If I knew where good songs came from, I’d go there more often.” – Guy Clark

“Dare to be honest and fear no labor. … Opera is where a man gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings.” – Robert Burns

“Speak in extremes, it’ll save you time.” – David Bowie

“It happens so quickly it seems like it’s coming from somewhere else. It’s not. It just means that you’re in sync with yourself.”
-Harry Nilsson

“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues. … I don’t need time, I need a deadline.” – Duke Ellington

“I can’t tell one from the other:
I find you or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I’ll be.”
– David Byrne