Song: The World's Best Songwriters on Creating the Music That Moves Us

Song: The World's Best Songwriters on Creating the Music That Moves Us

Song: The World's Best Songwriters on Creating the Music That Moves Us

Song: The World's Best Songwriters on Creating the Music That Moves Us


Song is an enthralling compilation of songwriting wisdom from 100 of the biggest names in music. From country to rock to folk to alternative, this genre-spanning collection of interviews captures the anecdotes, history, and wisdom of the best songwriters around - in their words. An entertaining read as well as an indispensable guide to the art and craft of songwriting, Song is a must-have resource for the aspiring, amateur, or professional musician.

Inside, you'll find entertaining and enlightening interviews from great songwriters such as Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, Jewel, Kenny Chesney, Cat Stevens, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Ray Charles, Clint Black, Rob Thomas, Dolly Parton, Rufus Wainwright, Bob McDill, Lyle Lovett, Keith Urban, Beck, M. Ward, Lou Reed, Roger Miller, Grant-Lee Phillips, and John Denver.


When doing interviews, the inevitable question about how one goes about writing songs arrives in all its chain-letter glory. I have often invoked this line: “Talking about songwriting is like doing card tricks on the radio.” In truth, I owe this bit of wit to Emmylou Harris, who in her ever-the-indulgent-bigsister-ly way giggled the words to me in a show of solidarity for a rant I was on about some rookie journalist who posed the question, “Which comes first, the words or the lyrics?” At the time, Emmylou was relying on songwriters such as myself for the bulk of her recording material and, perhaps out of kindness—more than gratitude for the good songs—opted not to point out the fact that I should have been grateful the guy wanted to speak to me at all. (Apart from my desire to emulate Bob Dylan’s cool reticence to talk to journalists, I recognized the glaring truth that were I to button my lip on the subject of my songs, no one would care.)

In recent years Emmylou has proven what I long suspected… the soul of a poet, such as hers, would not long sit silent. As I’ve watched with heartfelt admiration my friend’s triumphant foray into the added dimension of singer/songwriter, I have—when it came to my attention—done quick readings of her press clippings for the sole purpose of gathering whether or not she herself had used the line I’d adopted. Truth be told, I felt a twinge of guilt every time I used the line without giving credit where it was due. Clear conscience notwithstanding, the line still holds true.

When I heard that a book of interviews on the process of songwriting was being compiled by American Songwriter magazine—and that the honor of my take on the subject was being included among so many artists whose work I wholeheartedly admire—I was strangely reticent. My thought process went something like this, “Damn, songwriting is so hard to talk about, and the interview I’ve given to American Songwriter was for the purpose of promoting a new record… and the absolute truth about songwriting, as I know it, is if there is an agenda such as style or genre—pop, folk, blues, rock or anything else—dictating the process, the cart is before the horse and the potential for a good song finding its way into this world is in serious jeopardy… no way could I have gotten to the core truths about songwriting, as I know them, with the purpose of selling a CD in the forefront of my tiny brain.” Luckily I got the mental hydrant turned off before the editors decided to withdraw the invitation to participate.

Alas, as songwriting goes, I stand by the card trick analogy. Lucky for you, the reader, as fortune would have it, there is a wealth of artists contained herein who—also á la Emmylou Harris—are blessed with the souls of poets and are beautifully capable of articulating the mystery that is songwriting. I can’t wait to read the interviews.

Rodney Crowell Nashville, Tennessee July 2006

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