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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Bobby When you first made music? (77* d) RE: When you first made music? 29 Jan 00


I had been "knocking around" on my guitar for about a year. I had two or three Hank Williams songs that I was playing and a few others.

My brother-in-law was a much better player than I was. He had written sevral songs. I told him one day "I wish I could write a song." He replied "well you can do that today, just do it" (long before Nike adopted that slogan).

Well at that time my older sister had an old cat that was dying. My younger sister had a new kitten that had just been born. I sat down and wrote a song about the two cats. My brother-in-law was right, me writing a song, as limited as my talent was, was just a matter of me sitting down to do it. All it took was a level of commitment.

In my song "Josseta and Biff" the first verse was about the old cat, the second verse was about the kitten, the third verse contrasted the two as living and dying entities. Truthfully,the song really sucked but it was a start. I proved to myself that I could do it. That was twenty years and I've been writing (and getting better at it) ever since.

Now I want to get back to Hank Williams. I was really into him (still am) when I first started writing. If one knows just five basic chords (GCDAE, B helps a bit too)they can pretty much play Hank's ENTIRE song book. He was also so illiterate that he could hardly barely sign his own name. And yet, he wrote some incredible fricking songs. The guy changed music and greatly impacted the art of songwriting with a few simple tools simple. He was a crossroads of country, blues, gospel and unknown at that time, he was at the roots of rockabilly and rock. He didn't have much going for him but he took it a damn long way.

Ultimately, I honestly believe that one can write a GREAT song with very little talent. Musical talent surely helps, Lord knows I wish I had more. Still, I believe that writing a good song firstly requires sincerity, passion and commitment above all else.

Great musical talent alone will not neccessarily make one a great, or even a good song writer. On the other hand, minimal musical and literary talent can indeed make one a song writer of historical importance (as it did Hank), IF one approaches the process with sincerity, passion and commitment.

I think that's the key to writing folk and traditional music. It's not about having a pretty package that's wrapped with a fine bow, it's about what's in the box.

I guees what I want to say is even if you only know two chords there's a song in you if you'll just look for it. And more than that, there wouldn't really be anything holding you back from being able to write a great song. But if you know three chords, I like your chances much better.

To me writing a good song has MUCH more to do with "the process" than it does having a level of talent and musical knowledge.


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