It's all new to me. For years I've only had a small handful of songs of my own to sing. Then, KABOOM! I have more songs than I have time to learn.
I think part of it was due to getting involved with my keyboard at the Mudcat. I examined threads like this and then tried to honestly offer my points of view. After doing this several hundred times the act of writing became easier and that helped me to become a more active songwriter.
I play guitar and a few other instruments but I primarily use guitar when songwriting. I've mostly played interpretations of old blues over the years. I'd also write my own melodies and apply old lyrics to them.
Songs seem to come to me from strong experiences. One of my latest "Katrina Blues" came together via all of the above means. I was shocked by the imagery offered by the news casts (a strong experience). The melody came while I was trying to work up an interpretation of an old blues song that I caught a snip of in a recent movie. The lyric structure and a couple partial verses were inspired by a musical partner's interpretation of an old blues song that I used to sing along with when we were in a band together ten years ago.
One very silly song, "A Dilly Of A Tale" came to me while I responded to a thread here at the Mudcat. The thread was discussing the law suit being filed by a woman who had burned her lip on a hot pickle at McDonald's. I had recently purchased and sampled some very nasty tasting dill pickles (strong experience) and wondered in my post if I could have a suit on the basis of having eaten pickles that were just plain bad.
Somehow, while typing my response to the hot pickle thread the phrases began to rhyme. This prompted me to try to work with the ideas more with that intent in mind. I ended up with what I considered a partial song. Being tickled by the way the whole thing came together, I worked at trying to elaborate on the idea of the tale even further, making full use of my artistic license. ;o)
I applied the lyrics of this wordy tale to a ragtime bottleneck slide melody. The melody started out being a simple 16245 progression but by the time I mixed it with the verses it had developed enough stops, starts and twists to work successfully.
I've written many songs and partial songs without music. I have instrumental music without words that I may find words for at some future date, or they might simply only ever remain melodies. I think that my years of applying my own melodic approaches to interpretations has helped me when joining my own lyrics with my music.
What bugs me about some songs is that they seem to come with their own ideas of musical accompaniment. Some of these melodies are exceedingly difficult to then master on my guitar and it's a challenge to be able to sing some of them. My voice is far from golden.
These songs never seem to let me be until I've successfully joined them with their musical accompaniment. Then too, they're still not satisfied until I manage to get them into the ears of others. It is only then that the life cycle of a song is complete.
I also find it difficult to have some of my songs demand to be joined with musical progressions that I'm not particularly fond of playing. It's not that the music is as difficult to play as it is, in my mind, trite sounding. What can I do? These songs seem to have a mind of their own.
I'm always happy when something I write comes together nicely as a blues song. I've only written a handful of these. I've worked with so many old blues that it's nice to have my own blues songs to present.