Songwriter’s Journal | Page 1

Greetings, so this is the start of a series sharing about songwriting and the journey it takes you on before and beyond a song comes forth.

What is it about songwriting? I’ve been writing poems and songs from childhood and though it comes naturally, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Some songs flow effortlessly and some simmer steady like a stew while others need time to marinate and a few remain written in books or recorded as notes. 

Some messages are full to the brim with joy and some are hard to deliver but pressing to share. Other ones are to encourage the broken-hearted and overwhelmed where words of hope and life are planted every few lines or so like refreshing cups of cool water for a parched soul. Those ones refresh me too when times gets tough – another reminder that the most High is so kind to let me even take ‘credit’ for writing what clearly comes from beyond anything I can sustain on my own. 

Sometimes lyrics that leave your lips can bring you to your knees in tears ‘cause the compassion that composed them leads straight to the root of love and spring of living water. Overflowing love can be overwhelming; maybe it’s supposed to be that way…that’s what stirs up the out-pouring of thankfulness and the fruit of humility. When you write from that place, it can knock on the door of a stony heart, bring people together or remind somebody that they’re not alone.

“Breaking news every day, could give you the blues, oh the pain

So many aching hearts, so many…”

Crying OuT

And then there are those songs that have words that come with more pepper than my own chest can handle but I’m called to have courage beyond this 5ft frame and sing them still.  

A message has a meaning, sound is a vibration and music has frequencies.

One of my favourite things about writing – it could be a journal entry, poem, book, study or song…is the pockets of quiet it harmonizes with. Songwriting is set apart ‘cause at some point, sound has to be in the mix for it to become a song. But because I write a lot without a riddim leading the way, it usually starts with quiet…other than a few birdsongs and passing cars or ice—cream truck here and there. In that stillness…is the start of a song. That quiet secret place where I pour out on paper or type in notes, words and melody rhythmically dancing together, making a musical meal to be served with love someday…

Melodies can interrupt you in the middle of the day while washing dishes or watering the plants, just as yuh ready to get some rest or while playing a few chords on guitar, and lyrics can come through some seemingly random thing you said, a study you read, conversation you had or something you observe, reflect on or have to share. Being a songwriter – to me…means being observant about life, people, times, seasons, unwavering truth and temporary emotions…it means being at ease with quiet and compatible with music…and being available to the Most High to use rhythm, words and melody to send a meaningful message to many. It means being brave with the pen while being considerate about words cause they, rhythm and tones have power without watering down or taking away what you’re called to share….cause it’s not about you or me…it’s much bigger than that.

Writing for someone else or in real-time on a riddim is a whole other something; maybe we’ll talk about that later down the line but to sum it up: same gift and skill – new challenge – different muscles and vibe.

There’s nothing glamorous about the songwriting process especially when the topic is about a pressing situation, struggle, sensitive topic or any kind of crisis. Yea, songwriting sessions can be light and joyful but not always, depending – not even on what you write…but why you write. It’s one thing to study something, write it in yuh journal or reason with a sistren about it, and another to write, share, record and publish something that actually means something. Sometimes it can feel like being sent out on an important errand after-dark in a new land. Not every song is about about feting, whining, sunshine, having a ‘good’ time, losing ya mind or living ya best life.

And still, the journey of songwriting…is beautiful. It’s like being a caretaker in a garden of words.

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