Songwriting is an incredibly satisfying process. If you think about it, if you write songs, you are being inspired by people like Beethoven. Beethoven has an impact on today’s music unlike how you might suspect. If you trace back through time the artist you are being inspired by now, you will eventually get back to people like Beethoven. People like Taylor Swift or Katy Perry could trace their influences back.
Each generation of music impacts the next. And each generation attempts to find some way of putting their mark, their fingerprints on the music of the day, and then their music impacts the next person to listen.
There are music acts I may not like, but when I listen to the music itself I may find just a little something, a beat, just a bit of a line that then sends me to writing lyrics. I won’t know anything about the words of that song or the rest of the music, but that one bit of music did it.
Imagine if Elvis or the Beatles had listened to the naysayers. Look at Hall & Oates. They had to fight to be the musical artists they are. They didn’t sound like other white artists and didn’t fall in to the style of the 70s but they stuck to what they were. Imagine if they had gone disco. Admittedly they had an image for a time that led some doubts about things but their music stayed to their creativity. If they were being pushed they would simply create elsewhere.
If you look at the artists who have had the greatest impact on music you will find they are the ones that lasted through time and did it their way. While other acts gave in to changes to the extreme, the great artists would look at the world of the day and not react to change to he world but be the catalyst the change.
Songs become anthems, rallying points, cries of freedom. George M. Cohan wrote many patriotic songs for WWI that carried over to WWII. He touched a nerve and led a wave of patriotism.
John Lennon became an anthem writer but not with intent. He wrote from his heart and led our thoughts to go places.
Songwriters have more impact on the world than actors, politicians, or religious leaders. Songs are easily accessible, don’t take a lot of time to learn or read. They break down things to a bare minimum and with the right music can drive a message home straight to the heart or in some cases lower, depending on the purpose.
In 2011 the American Psychological Association put out a study that showed over the past three decades how song lyrics have become more self-centered, angry, anti-social, and basically teaches everything we would never want our children to even think about.
As I write songs and then pass them along in the hopes music will follow, I always say, “Just do what you feel.” I may have an idea in my mind what I think the song should be, but my part of the creative process is done unless I want to do the music part myself or hold the musicians hand and hamper their creativity.
I then wait to see how my lyrics have impacted the music maker, and then see how in total our creation will impact others. I don’t sit and hand hold or correct. Music is a process of trial and error. That’s a good way to learn. If you know what sounds wrong because you’ve done it, then you learn even more than if you have always done it the correct way or never done it for fear of it being ‘wrong’. You know the why behind it. And my thinking it sounds not the way I thought it would doesn’t mean it is wrong. It’s just my opinion in the moment from an expectation point of view.
I’ve learned to just leave it alone. I leave my 10 year old son alone when he starts strumming his guitar unless he looks at me and says, “Daddy, that sounded bad.” Then I’ll tell him to correct something technically and then he moves on. It may sound awful to me for a bit but as long as he seems happy I leave him alone. Eventually he finds his way and makes something that sounds good. And my migraine, which never ends because of a concussion I suffered, is given some rest.
He has now learned from knowing what is not good by having done it the ugly sounding way. For some of life’s lessons you wouldn’t do that but with music you can. Lessons are great but being alone and experimenting is where you get that chance to become your own musician with your own style. Perhaps becoming the next anthem writer.
I come from a musical family. I could tell my son a lot of things to do but he has fun learning his way and finding his way. He’s putting some of himself into his learning and his music. Will he be an anthem writer someday? I don’t know, but at least he will have the experiences to be one if he chooses to be.
I mentioned Taylor Swift and Katy Perry earlier. They are two anthem writers of today. At least they are the ones that come to mind. You may be able to name others and that is great. Do so in the comments. When you think of an anthem writer and when you do name that anthem writer, what message are they delivering? What impact is it having on society? Is it a negative or positive impact? Is it a uniting or a separating impact? Get past the catchy tune and see what’s being said. Is it a message you really want to be spreading?
As you see your young learning and experimenting with music or art, let them. It’s theirs. Not ours. Be a positive influence in their lives and that impact on their lives will show in what they do through their art.
Ronovan is a guest author at times here on Meanings and Musings. The rest of the time he’s to be found on RonovanWrite & LitWorldInterviews, two sites he created. He’s also an author, poet, sharer of all his experiences in writing, blogging, and life. He can also be found by clicking the following; Twitter, GoodReads, Google+.