Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Write Songs on Piano Instaed of Guitar

For a change of pace try to compose songs on the piano instead of your guitar. Here's an interesting that explains how Springsteen took his songwriting to another level.

What Bruce Springsteen Taught Me About Writing

By: Sophfronia Scott

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Bruce
Springsteen's groundbreaking album Born to Run. Columbia Records
is celebrating by re-releasing the disc with lots of audio and
video goodies including interview material of Bruce discussing
the writing of this seminal work. I'm a fan, so you can imagine
I've been gobbling up this stuff like Thanksgiving came early!
What's hitting home for me is hearing about how Springsteen's
back was really up against the wall while he was creating this
album. His record label was considering dropping him so he knew
he had to make something happen. When people ask me "how do I
know if my work is good enough?", I think of Springsteen because
surely he wasn't asking that when he was trying to figure out
what to write. The answer could have been "it's not" if he had
asked someone at his record company. He had to work and learn
for himself how to tell if his work was good enough. This is
what I learned from how he did it.

1.) Learn From the Great Ones

In the summer of 1974 Springsteen could have been lamenting the
fact that his first two albums had not been successful and he
was living in a tiny house in New Jersey while the country was
in the throes of a severe economic depression. But he wasn't. He
was focused on his songwriting. "I had a record player by the
side of my bed," he wrote in his book, Songs. "At night I'd lie
back and listen to records by Roy Orbison, the Ronettes, the
Beach Boys, and the other great '60s artists. These were records
whose full depth I'd missed the first time around. But now I was
appreciating their craft and power." Notice he wasn't saying
"There's no way I can create songs like that!" Instead he was
considering "what can I add to the conversation?" He was getting
inspired and educated at the same time.

2.) Aspire to Be Great Yourself

In an interview about Born to Run, Springsteen says he knew his
record company was about to drop him. He added, "I knew I had to
write something great." Springsteen didn't have to write
something great. He could have folded up his tent and said,
"they don't like me, I'm just gonna stay in Asbury Park and play
where people appreciate me and that's it." But he didn't do
that. He also didn't ask whether he was good enough. He simply
challenged himself to go beyond himself--to be great. Ask
yourself: what are you writing right now and is it challenging
you to be great? What would it take for you to start thinking
this way?

3.) Find Trusted Ears for Feedback

Yes, it is hard to know on your own whether you're on track with
your writing. That's when you recruit your own inner circle of
readers whose ears and eyes you trust. Jon Landau became one of
those trusted pairs of ears for Springsteen. They became friends
during the writing of Born to Run and Bruce often sent Jon, then
a Boston music critic, tapes of the work as it progressed. When
the work stalled, Landau was the one who came in and helped
Bruce put it all together. Who can be those ears or eyes for
you? Try to keep the inner circle small. If you have too many
opinions showered on your work it may cloud your creative

4.) Try Something Different

Most of the songs on Born to Run were written on piano--this
from a guy known for his raucous Fender guitar. But writing on
piano gave Springsteen new ideas and presented new opportunities
for him to explore. It also gave the album an amazingly
emotional and intimate vibe that I find intoxicating. What can
you do differently that can inspire a leap to your next level?
Set your novel in 1905 instead of 2005? Write from the point of
view of the opposite sex? Be a little creative with your
non-fiction? Take a chance. No effort is ever wasted even if
you're writing badly--you can still learn from what you've done

5.) Think Local, Write Global

One of the changes Springsteen made with Born to Run was that
the characters in his songs were "less eccentric and less local"
than the ones on his previous albums. The people in Born to Run
"could have been anybody and everybody," he says. "When the
screen door slams on 'Thunder Road', you're not necessarily on
the Jersey Shore anymore. You could be anywhere in America." And
it's true. Millions of people connected with--and bought-- Born
to Run. I sought the same kind of connection for my novel.
Though the family in All I Need to Get By is African-American,
I've had readers of all races tell me how they have seen
themselves in one or more of the characters and how they related
strongly to the book's family issues. Touching people in this
way is key to developing an attentive audience. How can you open
up your work to a larger audience while still being true to your

If you still have doubts, think of this quote from Ralph Waldo
Emerson: "Whatever course you decide upon, there is always
someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always
difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your
critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it
to an end requires...courage." Be courageous for yourself and
your writing. Your own Born to Run may be waiting to come out.

© 2005 Sophfronia Scott

About the author:
Author and Writing Coach Sophfronia Scott is "The Book Sistah"
TM. Get her FREE REPORT, "The 5 Big Mistakes Most Writers Make
When Trying to Get Published" and her FREE online writing and
publishing tips at http://www.TheBookSistah.com The Book Sistah,
230 South Main St. Ste. 319, Newtown, CT 06470 203-426-2036,

Guitar Emporium

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