becoming remarkable 
by Harriet Schock

Some people believe that art and commerciality are in conflict and sometimes they are, but I believe one does not necessarily preclude the other.  It's not about how to be a commercial success.  It's about becoming remarkable.  Sometimes those things coincide, as in the case of great songwriter/artists like Joni Mitchell, Don Henley, Bob Dylan,  to name just a few.  Time will tell which of the newer writers are true artists and which ones are chasing the tail of the music industry.   

I've observed two things about remarkable songwriters.  1) They come from truth.  I don't mean their songs are necessarily factual but they always contain truth (see chapter 18,  "Truth Vs. Fact in Songwriting").  The truth simply has more emotional impact because when the writer writes it, it has a ring of authenticity and when the listener hears it, it has a ring of veracity, both musically and lyrically.  Telling the truth as an artist can be a lifelong pursuit as the truth reveals itself more and more by the lives we lead.  2) They have mastered the language of songwriting and can speak it fluently.   This mastery is also not an overnight endeavor, but like any language, there are certain principles and techniques that can be applied to expedite the process.  Both of these ingredients seem to be necessary for remarkable writing.  Without fluency in the language of songwriting, writing from truth can seem self indulgent and downright embarrassing.  Without the truth, the master craftsman only crafts another good song, which will not deeply touch anyone's life and will not be remembered.   

I hope I am still traveling on the road to becoming remarkable.  I also hope that the observations I've made on this road will help bring you a few steps closer to that glorious, elusive destination.   

 

copyright © 1998 by Harriet Schock

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