Lately I’ve been looking over my old songbooks, half finished songwriting ideas and my recording archives to see if there are any thing that I can rewrite, reboot, update or restore in any way. Sometimes I get inspired by this exercise but for most of the time I don’t.

For me, it very much depends on what is currently going on in my life and how I’m feeling at the time because this exercise requires me to listen to these old songs with a fresh pair of ears.

This is a challenge as I inadvertently put my old songs and ideas into concrete and this makes it very hard to rewrite them in any other way. In fact, any rewriting of old songs is considered a little victory for me.

So, when it comes to the difficulty in rewriting old songs it’s nice to know that I keep in good company.

I came across an article by songwriter Tony Conniff titled “Revisiting Earlier Songs… As A More Experienced Writer” and he discusses how the more experience he gains as a songwriter, the more opportunities he has to improve on his earlier songwriting attempts.

On this topic, he says…

“It’s a bit of a paradox – my rush forward to write more songs, to gain experience, to get better, has perhaps left holes in some of my past songs (or maybe the holes are there simply because I didn’t know how to plug them at the time…?). But that rush forward to write more songs has also given me the experience to improve things that I thought were settled (but don’t have to be).”

Reading Tony’s article has definitely made me feel better about my struggles with revisiting older songs.

What I get from the article is that the more songs that I write, the more experience I gain in honing my craft, and with that knowledge and experience under my belt, the more I can look and hear my older songs with a fresh pair of eyes and ears.

At the very least that is yet another reason never to throw any of your old songs and songwriting ideas away. You never what you can do with them in the future.

Do you have a whole bunch of old song that need revisiting. Maybe reading Tony Conniff’s article will inspire you to take another look.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

This song was written a couple of years after the end of a relationship where I spent the majority of the time walking on eggshells. Needless to say this song is almost like my reward for enduring it.

The verses describe the after effects of having words used against me consistently. At the end of it all I couldn’t trust anything that I said, thought or heard while the choruses describe the prison-like existence that I felt accompanied me throughout this relationship.

I started off writing the chorus and about the hour later I had finished it. I was inspired by the therapeutic nature of writing the song.

At the time of writing Shadows I was very influenced by Neil Finn and Crowded House. I think that the way the chorus is set out is testament to that.


Shadows
© C. Stewart 1999

It’s only one word
That’s all that I ask of you
I don’t ask for much
But it seems that I have asked for the world

You say that it’s okay
And everything’s forgiven now
But no matter what you say
It never fits with what’s in my mind

I’m walking away, walking in circles
Looking through windows, oh
A prisoner of my own mind
Can’t you see the tears in my eyes?
I’m trapped in this lifetime, it’s never-ending
Due to my sorrow, oh
Shadows and lifetimes
Can’t you see the tears in my eyes?

My smile has disappeared
It’s been replaced by all my fears
Fears I’d thought were gone
But now have come to haunt me again

I dare to say a word
Just incase you hear me wrong
Its still the common thing
Even though we are apart

I’m walking away, walking in circles
Looking through windows, oh
A prisoner of my own mind
Can’t you see the tears in my eyes?
I’m trapped in this lifetime, it’s never-ending
Due to my sorrow, oh
Shadows and lifetimes
Can’t you see the tears in my eyes?

 

Stumbling across this video of a David Bowie interview from 1997 was exactly the lesson that I needed to learn today. Here is his response to the question “Do you have any advice for artists?”

Here’s the summary of what David Bowie says below…


“Never work for other people at what you do. Always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself or how you coexist with the rest of society.

I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfil other people’s expectations. I think they generally produce their worst work when they do that.

And the other thing I would say is that if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”


Not a truer set of words spoken.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

Ever wondered how Frank Zappa runs his band and how much it costs to put on one of his tours? I have and this video featuring a recorded interview in 1984 with the great man answers these questions in the only way Frank Zappa knows how.

Here’s something to think about. Are you able to speak about your band or solo music career in such a direct and succinct manner?

Yes, I know that you create art but remember, as a musician either running a band or a solo career, you are also running a business and in business you need to know what you’re doing, where you’re going and the numbers to support it.

On a personal note, I would’ve loved the opportunity to audition for Frank Zappa’s band. I might not have been successful but the experience would’ve been so worth it.

Until next time, get out there and do it,

Corey Stewart
All About Music Business

I have been writing songs for just over 30 years now and I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of defining what the songwriting process means to me.

For me, songwriting is much more involved than just the song as an end product. No, to me it encompasses a whole creative process.

Writing songs is a discipline, a meditation, a calling, a vocation, a study into the human condition and a way of life. It’s all about doing “the work.”

Without a songwriting process binding everything together, the song as the end result of that process would not exist.

That’s why I’m so passionate about it… The songwriting process is THE essence of writing songs. I’m passionate about it because I feel that songwriters generally overlook the most important aspect of what we do…

Writing…

Songwriting is a word comprised of two smaller words, song and writing. It may seem pretty obvious, but a song is the end result of a process and the writing part of the word songwriting IS the process.

Therefore, without the WRITING there is NO SONG. I wonder how many songs aren’t written because of this fact?

You see, you can talk all you like about verses, choruses, middle-eights, bridges, pre-choruses, the length of the intro, topline melody, hooks and so on, but without the physical activity of writing, all of that songwriting theory is meaningless.

So look deep into yourself and define what your songwriting process means to you.
Remember, there are no rules regarding this because each songwriting process is as many and varied as the amount of songwriters in the world.

What I do to get to a completed song is going to be different to how you get there. GUARANTEED.

Once you’ve defined what your process means, adapt it into your day to day life and take action over your songwriting rather than just waiting for inspiration to come your way.

As author Stephen King once said… “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

But until then, happy writing

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

As you might be aware, at the end of 2015, I decided to say goodbye to playing covers and take a break from live performance to give myself the space to work out what I wanted to do next musically.

Even though I have played the occasional gig in that time due to the opportunity landing in my lap rather than me chasing it down, what I have found eight months into my break is that…

I really don’t miss playing live
I know that I will eventually start to “miss” the whole playing in front of an audience thing but for the time being I’m happy to sit in my studio and write, record and get back to be a creative person. I am finding that I have written more songs and have collaborated with more writers than I have ever before… And I’m loving it.

I have more time at my disposal
I have my weekends back for a start and because of that I have more choice in how I spend my time now. I’m finding that I’m more able to slow down life and smell the roses a bit more than I used to. I’m able to reconnect with family and friends and even catch a live show from time to time. All of this make me feel much more grounded than I had been

I have less stress and anxiety in my life
With the constant need to hustle for gigs now gone for the time being, I’m finding that I have less stress and anxiety in my life. Having a non-music related day job which provides the income I need has taken the pressure off. For me, music is now becoming more of an act of creativity again rather than just a functional that provided me employment.

I am a more focussed individual
Just the fact that I’ve been able to make more changes to this website in a number of days than I have in the last 18 months or so is testament to the fact that less stress and anxiety in my life + more time at my disposal = more focus.

I have re-discovered my spiritual path
The long periods of contemplation have enabled me to rediscover a spiritual path I had been exploring while living in Sydney between 1994 and 1999. This path revolves mainly around Buddhist philosophy (without the religious overtones) with mindfulness and meditation as part of the mix. I will go deeper into this in a future post

Do I want to get back into playing live again any time soon? No, not really.

At this stage I’m quite happy just creating for creating sake however, I know that there will be a time when I will really miss the gigs and only then will that be the right time for me to get back into it.

Until that time arrives, getting creative and working on becoming the best person I can be for myself (and everybody else) is my number one priority.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

Back Of My Mind written around the time I joined a housing co-operative and the first place I was moved into was a unit in Carrington Street in Adelaide.

This new environment made an immediate creative impact on me and this song was the first of many songs written around that time.

The first two verses describe the night I wrote the song. It was a Friday night and I went for a walk into the middle of Adelaide taking in all of the sights and smells plus, it was a misty rainy kind of night.

Living on your own for the first time brings up many things in your mind. It was a time when I was re-evaluating who my friends are and who I could trust. This is represented by the lyrics in the chorus.

Verse three demonstrates my yearning for this time that I was spending alone to be the way out of this “flood of madness across this land” I was experiencing.

Nevertheless, writing Back Of My Mind was a very cathartic experience.


Back Of My Mind
© C. Stewart 2002

Friday night and all is quiet
I look around but there’s nothing to see
I find myself in the middle of this city
My mind is restless but at least I know that I’m free

I walk the streets and my mind is racing
As misty rain falls upon my face
Thinking of a love I used to have often
But at the moment there’s no love in this place
No love in this place

I have noticed that I’ve found myself, deep inside myself
And I don’t know which way is out
This room is getting dark and cold
All the people that have come and gone, have been noted down
But in the end I’m all alone
Is it such a waste of time?
Deep in the back of my mind

I’ll take the path that leads to higher cover
From this flood of madness across this land
I want to find some peace and tranquility
With the sun in my eyes and my hopes cupped in both of my hand
Hopes cupped in both of my hands

Chorus

Deep in the back of my…
Deep in the back of my…
Deep in the back of my…
Deep in the back of my mind


Download “Back Of My Mind” Chord Chart


There’s a lot of songwriters out there that are in need of some help kicking off their songwriting process on the right foot. Now I know from personal experience that from time to time a prompt such as a good song title or a few well chosen lines overheard in a conversation can be all that’s needed to open the floodgates of inspiration.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d do some online research into these types of songwriting tools.

Some are fairly serious and some are humorous but if you have a look at them all you’ll find some value in these sites I’m sure so here is the BIG List Of Songwriting Prompts And Lyric Generators for you to enjoy and be inspired by…


Song Lyric Generators

Song Title/Band Name Generators

(Song) Writing Prompts


Remember, this list is in addition to the list already found in Songwriting Tool: Random Generators And Writing Prompts so that’s a pretty extensive list of online songwriting tools at your disposal. What do you think?

If you know of any other online songwriting tools you’d like me to share, please let me know and I’ll make sure I put it up in future posts.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

You know, as I get on with the day to day business that is my life, I’m realising more and more that for most of the time we are all making up our lives as we go along which to a recovering control freak like myself, comes as a great relief.

Yes, that’s right, a recovering control freak.

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I love to be in control, even though that I knew intellectually that the notion of control is but only an illusion.

Feeling in control has made me feel safe and secure with the world around me and the upside of this feeling is that I consider myself a very organised and punctual person.

The downside to always wanting to be in control is that I would almost always get highly stressed out when situations don’t go according to the pre-determined plan that I have in my own head.

I’d get so stressed it would at times paralyse me.

I really loathe this feeling of being out of control but I didn’t really know how I could rectify this, a pattern that has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

The realisation that we’re all making our lives up as we go along eliminates the need for me to compare my life with the life of others around me and therefore disengage myself from this need to be in control all the time.

Yes, I know that some people have their lives together more than others and I also know that we’re all unique in our own abilities, our history and the way we look at the world around us, but deep down we all want the same things, such as love, respect, validation, acknowledgement, recognition and happiness

When I look at life in this way I realise deep down we are all in the same boat.

Right now I’m working on creating some sort of balance between my need to have everything in my life catalogued and in its place and at the same time, being totally spontaneous.

Quite a challenge when it think about it but not an impossible thing for me to achieve.

I reckon there’s a song in this…

Peace,

Corey 🙂