Songwriter Habit #2 – Revise Your Songs
The media often portrays great songwriters as simply having inspiration strike them, then magically writing inspiring songs on their first try. In reality, a lot of revision is done between the song’s first draft and the version that the listener hears. Here, we’ll discuss how revising your songs is a necessary habit for great songwriters.
This article is a summarised transcript of the sixth point in our video “7 Habits of Highly Effective Songwriters’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
Why Should We Revise
A famous quote often repeated by many artists which was originally said by RC Bannon, is “Great songs aren’t written, they’re rewritten.”
Amazing songwriters understand that the majority of songwriting doesn’t happen from flashes of inspiration. They don’t assume that the way the song came out first is the best way. In fact, they realise that the best version of the song can only be reached through various changes and iterations.
Revising your songs gives you the chance to take them through a process of development and refinement to get them to the finish point.
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Examples of Artists Who Revise Their Songs
- Neil Finn:
This genius behind Crowded House champions this concept and talks about revising his own work. He says “I’ll try as many times as they can possibly be improved on. Occasionally, that does mean that things get over-polished or overworked, but I actually think that most of the time when I’ve gone the extra mile to refashion something or re-edit or change words, it’s almost always ended up better.”
- Paul McCartney:
A great example of how revisions can make or break a song is Yesterday by Paul McCartney. Contrary to popular belief, the song did not come to him in a dream. The song actually came out with a jumble of lyrics such as “Scrambled eggs, oh my darling, how I love your legs”.
Only after spending a year on revising the song did he manage to create the version that we know and love today.
Conclusion: Songwriter Habit #2 – Revise Your Songs
In conclusion, great songs don’t just appear on the page magically. We don’t wake up one day, have inspiration strike us and write the next great hit of the century. Instead, disciplined songwriters take the time to revise their songs. This way, they manage to turn them into the best songs they can possibly be.
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