How to write a love song without cliches
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re very excited about having such an unashamedly romantic artist as the Songwriters Association of Canada
‘s latest Featured Member
and are ever grateful that he took the time to share some of his thoughts on songwriting. The Globe and Mail
has described Reid Jamieson
as writing, “Achingly beautiful songs…. a haunting quality not soon forgotten.”
Reid is a regular member of CBC’s Vinyl Cafe Orchestra
who often steals the show. He recently released his first full-length, all original, and self-funded album, “Staring Contest
A visit to Reid’s profile on the S.A.C. website, one is immediately
mesmerized by the vulnerability in his performance and the honesty and
depth of his lyrics. Reid is able to be romantic without resorting
to cliche. As some of you attempt to write a love song for your
source of inspiration this Valentine’s Day, may we suggest taking a
listen to Reid’s music and reading his insights below.
1. What is your typical songwriting process from start to finish? 90
percent of the time I pick up the guitar and play a chord progression
and a melody magically appears. I may stream the whole song and let the
passion be my guide. Over the past few years, if the lyrics don’t pop
out fully formed I hand the song over to my fabulous co-writer and
manager (and wife), carolyn v.mill. she is a wonderful editor and
lyricist who knows my mind and heart. She then adds and subtracts to
make the song whole. Or in the case of Rail and By Your Side, I wrote
the music and she wrote the lyrics. Two heads are better than one!
2. Your songs maintain a romanticism
despite a growing cynicism in society. How do you write songs that
stay tender without resorting to cliche? I grew up very shy
and without a lot of interaction with the opposite sex. This made me
try harder when I did eventually reach out. One of my ways was, and
continues to be, by writing songs. I am happy to say I have a very
romantic relationship so that gives me a great inspiration to be saying
tender things, and due to the longevity of the relationship – a reason
to keep it fresh.
3. You’ve been compared to Roy Orbison, Jeff Buckley and
Damien Rice. How much have you drawn inspiration from these artists and
what other artists have influenced your sound and songs? Its
so helpful to listen to, and figure out, what makes other
singer/songwriters affect you. Someone like Orbison pulls you in
emotionally with his voice and takes you on a journey and never lets go
until the song ends. Even then you may have to go and listen again to
see how he did it. He had a particular penchant for writing songs that
challenged him vocally – I think I do that too. McCartney is obviously a
very strong songwriter whose way with a melody is incredible. The sheer
amount of beautiful and inventive songs he has created have inspired me
since childhood. I am inspired by writers who were inspired by him,
like Crowded House’s Neil Finn who like McCartney was not afraid to
write a popular song without sacrificing his art. Ron Sexsmith too, a
4. How many songs did you write before
choosing the songs on “Staring Contest,” and did you get outside help
in the song selection process? Approximately 30 songs and
honest feedback is key for sure. Reactions from playing them live to
strangers especially, and for friends and the mrs.
5 Do you use any tools for songwriting such as a rhyming dictionary, recording devices, etc.,? The
only tool I really use is a little digital recorder to make sure the
songs are captured while in the process of creating them. Very helpful
in this age of distraction.
6. What is the best piece of songwriting advice you would give to fellow songwriters? You
won’t always know when you are writing what will turn out to be a great
song. Let go of your filters and judgements as much as possible. This
is where the truly great stuff comes out. AND to also mean what you say!
You will feel like a jerk years later when someone asks you what the
song is about. I should know!
Click Here to hear his tunes.
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