There must be something different about those
musical geniuses. They must look at music a different way,
approach every song a different way. If everyone approached
it the same way, people like Freddie Mercury, Elliott Smith,
and Jim Morrison never would have stood out. In this article,
we’re going to look at how a few different songwriters
approach music and see if we can learn anything.
Do more drugs? Is… Is that what we’re
about to learn? HA!
This guy has been one of my inspirations for years. Literally
a musical genius, he was an incredible piano player and composer
from a very early age. He used such progressive chord progressions
and colorful language, and managed to make it all sound great.
Really, really depressing, but great. He rarely spoke about his
songwriting process, but when he did, it
really put things in to perspective. He said that he didn’t
have a methodical approach to writing songs. He just loved playing
music. He was crazy about chord progressions, and always found
himself fooling around with his piano or guitar when he was bored.
I think that’s important. There are people today who literally
write songs for a living 9-5. They pump out all the songs that
pop stars perform. I think that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Pop music can sound canned, tasteless, and soulless… Because
it is, a lot of the time. Some guy literally treated that song
like a menial task at work, where as Elliott treated his songs
like a guy that just likes music. He’s a passionate writer
and really enjoyed what he did. Can you say the same about the
guy whose just trying to pay his bills? Granted, writing songs
all day would be a cool job, but a job none the less. I think
the difference is clear.
“Yeeeahh, I’m gonna need more Miley
Essentially, Elliott wrote for fun. He was always
thinking and always playing music in his spare time. It was a
privilege and not a chore. I think that’s important to
remember for anyone who wants to become a serious musician – love
what you do, or don’t do it at all.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
I picked these guys because I think they have
incredible chemistry as a band. Every member of the band contributes
to every song. They jam, they exchange ideas, they try everything.
They all feel passionately about what they do and it shows. Like
Elliott Smith, they’re all jamming in their free time.
Music is what their worlds revolve around and they take it really
seriously. Anthony Kiedis is always writing words and coming
up with melodies, even if he doesn’t use them. In fact, “Under
the bridge” was
almost just a poem he kept in his notebook, never to see the
light of day. John Frusciante is always writing music in
his spare time, releasing multiple solo albums and getting featured
as a studio musician with a number of different acts. Flea has
been the energetic crazy as hell co-frontman that has held it
down for bass players for over 20 years. Chad smith is the Will
Ferrell of drums!
(He’s as talented as Will is funny.)
They all love music and they all worked (John
is no longer in the band) together really well. I think every
band should take notes here, because good chemistry is really
what makes these guys tick. Anthony and Flea were friends since
Jr. High, and naturally worked well together as best friends.
Over time, they sifted through a number of band mates looking
for that perfect chemistry. Eventually, they wound up with Chad
and John and lots of success. If you can’t work well together
as friends, you probably won’t work well together as musicians.
These guys have proved that time and time again.
These guys are weird. But, that’s why we
love them. These are the guys that made it cool to be an outcast,
the guys that helped bring grunge in to the mainstream, the guys
that created “Nevermind” and claimed to be mere human
beings. They had a weird songwriting dynamic, but dear lord did
it work. As a 3-piece band, Kurt would come up with the basic
idea for a song on guitar. Then he’d bring it to his band
mates, who would clean it up and add their own influences creating
the sound that was Nirvana. Kurt wrote the lyrics and was the
front man, but make no mistake he couldn’t have done it
without Dave and Krist keeping him in check. These guys were
great friends that didn’t just want to make music, they
wanted to change the way people look at the world. In
this interview, they talk about just how strongly they were
affected by close minded people growing up.
There’s clearly some negativity here.
Basically, these guys lived and breathed counter
culture. It was a crucial part of their music. They wanted to
break stereo types and be different, they wanted to open eyes
and change people. They never went Hollywood and sold out, they
never changed their goals, they just kept making great music
and trying to justify the little guy, the unpopular kid that
had too much imagination for his own good. And it worked, people
today are still deeply moved by their music and what it stood
for. Every song Nirvana wrote had to be original, it had to make
a statement, and it had to sound good. They were always jamming
and always looking for new ways to invent them selves and it
So what do they all have
Every band or musician I talked about played music just for fun,
even in their spare time. They were always thinking about music.
They were always trying to improve. Music is what their worlds
revolved around and it showed. Can you say the same about yourself?
If we’re taking a page from these greats, its only appropriate
that we compare and contrast ourselves to them. Doing drugs and
going insane probably won’t help you, but getting your
brain to make music a priority might. If you could put music
on the same pedestal that these guys did, you would have no problem
dedicating your life to it completely. All of the musicians I
talked about never really had a back up plan. Music was plausible
from the get go, and they chased that goal like nothing else
mattered. If you’re serious about music, it will show.
If you’re not, stick to washing dishes and finishing your