Haydn's Musings: Originality In Songwriting

In my humble opinion, the music industry is the most competitive industry to get into. There are literally thousands of bands out there who are trying to 'make it' and impress the listener with their unique songwriting ability. It seems that these days, too many people mistake becoming a musician as the 'easy' option. Of course, it's so easy to pick up a guitar and it's so easy to write the cheesiest, most god awful song in the history of the Universe, with lyrics that go something like:

I love you 
I love you
I love you
My Princess

The above lyrics are just a sample of the gloriously embarrassing lyrics that my dad told me he wrote when he started writing songs. I've written some stinkers in the past as well, and the reason why I'm not posting them in this post is not out of embarrassment, it's out of the fact that I've pretty much erased them from my memory, in replacement for the satirical, drug referencing, downright ridiculous lyrical themes that seem to be splattered throughout the songs that I write in my band Haydn & The Normals.

Having spoken to most people on my course about it, we've all unanimously agreed that to come up with an original and brilliant idea is incredibly hard and takes a great deal of time and commitment, and it comes down to this, some people have that talent straight away, they are the lucky ones, everything they do oozes originality and creative prowess, and everything they touch turns to gold. However with some people, it takes time for the originality to come out. These type of people need constant reassurance, these people need to be told that it's acceptable to write something completely outlandish and different and no songwriter will look down on them for doing so, in fact it will be a completely different reaction all together.
No one can anticipate the reaction that you'll get from an audience when you play a freshly written batch of songs to them, and some people are happy with a few pleasant head-nods here and there, and a polite applause at the end of the song. Personally, I need more than that. I need people to come away from my gigs thinking 'Wow, that guy/girl was amazing and I've never seen anything like that before', or 'Wow, that one tune that they played was incredible, I'm definitely listening to that when I get back home.' When the audience listens to that one amazing, original and brilliant tune, you can almost guarantee that they will tell their friends about you and your songs then those friends will tell their friends and the cycle will continue.

In my personal opinion, the best reaction that any band can get is shock and surprise, when people are shocked by what you have written, they will talk about you, they will wonder about why you have written a song like that. This is the main reason why I write songs in the way I do. I think to myself, what is the most shocking thing that you can say about this topic? What can I say that will make people react in the way that I want them to, instead of just bopping their heads politely whilst I'm going through the motions of some generic crap that took me 5 mintues to write?
If you end up writing the same old songs again and again and again, that is what people will expect from you. Make them expect the unexpected, the best performances that I've ever seen are the ones that have been unpredictable, ones where the artist hasn't just gone through the motions and done a repeat of every gig they've ever played in terms of structure. They are the ones where the artist actually gives a shit about the venue that they're playing at, and the crowds of people that are there to see them. Every gig is different, just like every day is. If you play a show and talk about the same old crap, and every song is the same, people are simply not going to care. The members of the audience will just turn to each other and say "well that was good wasn't it?" and that will be it. Conversation about you over.

Of course, I understand that everyone is different, and I'm not saying that I'm better than everyone else because I write songs in a certain way, whatever gets you off, as selfish and as egotistical as it seems, I'm just trying to give people a little insight into how my brain works when I sit down to write a song. It takes a hell of a lot of balls to stand up in front of an audience and play your own material, and this is the first year in my life where I feel like I have well and truly found my feet as a performer and songwriter, and it's a wonderful feeling. I guess some people take a longer time then others to find the golden jackpot of originality, and when you find it, you'll know and you'll want to embrace it forever.

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