HOW TO WRITE ONE SONG



Book Cover

This book should have a potential readership beyond fledgling songwriters. Of course, that audience includes devoted Wilco fans who want more insight into the songs, but anyone involved in a creative endeavor can benefit from Tweedy’s advice. Much of the information echoes other how-to guides: Allow yourself room to fail, learn from your mistakes, don’t allow your inner critic or editor to enter the process too early. What’s most helpful is the specific and personal—how Tweedy does it. He provides a daily schedule of his routine, including the naps and long walks he considers integral to the process. He offers transcripts of conversations, including one with his wife, and shows how these have inspired lyrics, and he provides examples of mix-and-match and cut-and-paste word exercises to suggest how one might find meaning and even music in what might initially appear to be nonsense. Tweedy even suggests stealing, though he shows how one can take chord progressions or words from someone else and turn them into music that is totally your own. Many of the chapters are bite-sized, and the shorter ones could have been richer with more personal experiences woven in. The author advises listening to other people’s music and learning how to play those songs, but readers may wish he had gone deeper into the music that informed his own, what he tried to copy, and how it progressed into something original. Though Tweedy does his best to demystify the process, he does allow that “I truly think I do a lot of my best work while I’m asleep.” While the text contains plenty of solid tips for writing one song, the author allows for a wider resonance, showing how “songs help us love and cope, and they teach us how to be human.”



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