Songwriters: Songs Can Sound Good AND Make Sense!

by Marty Dodson
Feb 13, 2022

Can songs really sound good AND make sense?

A couple of years ago, I was scheduled to co-write with a pretty well known rock band. Little did I know it would prove to be a case of sound and sense….

They wanted to write at 9 PM at a remote house they had rented for a month so they could write their record.

When I arrived, I first noticed the kitchen table COVERED with mostly empty Jack Daniels and Jim Beam bottles. Several of the guys were on the back deck smoking something a little funny. It was nearly 10 PM when we finally started writing. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that they started throwing out CRAZY lines that didn’t have anything to do with anything. I tried to be diplomatic and gently lead them toward lines that were better than the ones they were contributing.

Finally, one of them turned to me in frustration and said “Dude, it doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to SOUND good.”

I knew we were at a turning point in the evening. I was either going to get myself invited to leave or we were going to write a good song. So, I calmly turned to the lead singer (Who has just given me the advice about making it sound good) and…

I said, “Yes, but what if it sounded good AND it made sense?”

There was a collective “Whoa” from the whole band. It was as if Confucius had just spoken the wisest words in the history of the world.

They bought in. So we wrote a pretty good song that sounded good and made sense.

Since then, I’ve been in numerous discussions where the same kinds of statements were made. Usually they are referring to pop music when they say it doesn’t have to make sense. And, they are right. Some of it doesn’t. Most of those were written with the artist.

In my opinion, it’s just being lazy to settle for a song that sounds good but doesn’t make sense. My goal every day is to write something that sounds awesome and makes good sense. The two are NOT mutually exclusive.

Don’t cop out and write something that doesn’t say anything, even if your genre allows that.

You can rise to the top by making your songs sound fresh and actually making them say something real. Sound cool. Make sense.

Write on! MD

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi #1 songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing


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