Songwriting – Why I keep on keeping on


So here  I am, sitting in an airless basement, surrounded by broadcast  equipment. I’m  recording an interview and live session for a hospital radio station show. There might be 100, 30 or even 10 listeners so this is not mass media.  But it’s a professionally put together show and the presenter – Mandy Willis – is great.  By that I mean she’s interested, lively, enthusiastic about the music she’s playing and the musicians she’s interviewing and knowledgeable.   She has also set up studio lights to create a good atmosphere. Not everyone would do that and she’s taken the time to listen to my music before we go on air.

So we chat for a while and I play a couple of songs on the acoustic guitar I’ve brought with me.  When I finish playing she asks: “What inspires you to write songs?”

The How and the Why

There’s probably a millisecond of dead air while I think about that one, then I hit my stride. I explain that I  tend to write character-based story songs.  The stories come into my head and I turn them into lyrics,  verses, choruses, hooks ( on a good day) and middle eights. I go on to say something about my writing method and how it’s evolved as other parts of life have become busier. (More about that in another blog)

What I don’t explain is why I write songs.  What keeps me finding new stories?  What drives me to spend time and energy putting together words and music? And once the songs have been written,  why do I bury myself in the studio, building arrangements track by track?

Self expression, I suppose. That’s the simple answer. Some people paint, others write poetry or novels, I write songs and I’m lucky enough to be able to gig fairly regularly and play them to a range of audiences.  And thank to a combination of Youtube,  streaming and downloads, I can reach a few thousand people every year with my recorded music.

New Stories

And just occasionally (I think), I tell a story that hasn’t been told before, or say something new about an old situation. And even more occasionally, I write a song that means something to someone and get the feedback to prove it.  Sometimes, I just tell a story – like this one (Who’s that in the corner)  – which make sense of something that happens to me. Any of these small achievements are immensely satisfying.

I write for a living – journalism and copywriting mainly – and I think it’s also the case that songwriting is the non-profit making arm of my wider writing career.  Frankly, it’s great to have a creative outlet,

Have a listen and see what you think. The new album Love and Pride is out now

Or stream it on Spotify



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