Writing Your Life In Song

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I believe that to be successful as a songwriter, you have to be very versatile. I have had songs recorded by artists as varied as The Oak Ridge Boys and The Plain White T’s.

But, the area in which I have had the most success is writing my life. When I have written (well) the experiences that have shaped and molded me, I have had success.

In my former life, I was a youth minister. So, I saw the good, bad and ugly of church life. Those experiences creep into my writing often. There is a spiritual thread that runs through much of my writing. In many ways, I process and “work through” that time in my life through my writing. I’ve posted a couple of songs here today that were based on that time in my life. If you’d like to hear them, check them out below. (You don’t have to be a member)

I am a very passionate person, so that part of me runs through my music as well. “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right”, “Let Me Down Easy” and “While You Loved Me” are examples of that side of me.

I believe that your unique life experiences give you the BEST shot at crafting a song that stands out. Nobody has lived YOUR life. So, write it. Don’t try to shine it up or make it sound better than it has been. Just write it. Be raw and real.

Only YOU can write from your perspective, so don’t miss that opportunity. Take the good, bad and ugly of your life and write it in a way that others can relate. If you do that well, you’ve got a shot.

Write on.

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Marty Dodson is a 6-time #1 songwriter and co-founder of SongTown.com


 

They’ll Kick You Out Of Church For That

 

Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven

 

14 thoughts on “Writing Your Life In Song

  1. When I give people my CD I usually say “my life story is on here” and actually many of my songs are very direct and autobiographical. But I’m trying to branch out a little and actually on the song that I’m doing for S-Factor, I am thinking of writing it from a female perspective. But it will still have a lot “me” in it.

  2. Thanks Marty,
    Both songs are adorable, (and I teach Sunday school and sing on our worship team…)
    Glad you shared them… I totally agree that we need to write our lives in song… it’s the only thing we’re experts at…whenever God teaches me something, I find that I write about it because whatever I’ve learned is “truth” and that’s usually what a song is…
    a “nugget of truth.” Many times when I hear a good song, my first thought
    is… “man, that is soooo true.” 😊💖🙏🎶

  3. Brief Introductory Movement, about 15 seconds, just enough to serve that function.
    “They’ll Kick You Out Of Church For That” uses a Refrain-Type Chorus, and ‘hits’ it first at 36 seconds. You hit it again about 1:05.
    There’s a strength in that style, enabling you to hit THE Hook/title at the end of each Verse, as opposed to the Stanza-Type Chorus which only enables you to ‘hit’ THE Hook in each giving of the Chorus. A Stanza-Type can hit THE Hook more than once, however.
    At about 1:06 seconds in you’re at the Bridge, a Variant Melody to renew listener interest, avoiding excessive Repetition after two Verses have done their work. A third identical repeat might have lost listeners. The irreverent humor has a lot of listener-retention power. The Bridge makes a ‘Summary Point’ of why the Singer-Character is telling his story.
    A third Verse introduces the movie theater scene with ‘tangled up’ suggesting sexual explorations. Sex is a big seller if it can be done tastefully.
    Then the repeats of The Bridge reuse that Variant Melody to finish strong, with listeners able to sing along by that time. You finish at a Radio-Friendly 3:20.
    The irreverence might have caused some stations not to play it. Most probably liked the humor and identified with the irreverence, which seems to me to be the way most folks who profess religion actually think, sort of real-all-week/reverent-on-Sunday.
    Picking that title was a bit of genius. They’ll probably kick you out of church for it. You were able, and quickly I imagine, to find Verse Lines to support it, lead back to it, reporting back to it at the end of each of three Verses and The Bridge repeats. It works, Songwise, like a charm!
    Songwriters should count the number of ‘hits’ on THE Hook/title, as aspire to as many in their own writing.

    “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven” has lessons to teach too. Short Intro, 0:15, maybe.
    Hit THE Hook by about 0:44, again, and hit it twice per giving of the Stanza-Type Chorus. Simplicity.
    More Verses, Lyric stays on-topic, leads logically back to the Chorus.
    Use a Bridge to renew listener interest, enabling two more givings of the Chorus to finish, hitting THE Hook again and again and again. If you ain’t singin’ along by now see your doctor!
    And finishing at 2:40, if disc jockeys on radio so choose, Radio-Friendly, so they can play more ads that pay the bills. The a capella at the end has more charm for the sing-along crowd, for live play. I’ll bet it worked live that way too.
    There’s a bit of irreverence in this one too. I’ll bet they DID kick you out of church for that! LOL

  4. Marty I can think of a few more things they’ll kick ya out of church for….:) Don’t get me started ! Haha

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