Get Inspired: Study Great Holiday Songs

Here’s a list of great holiday songs you can listen to on Youtube. Each one has something offer to today’s songwriters as examples of great song craft.  As you listen, notice the  structure, lyric imagery/action words, melody style, and production. For more detailed info on writing and pitching holiday songs, read Holiday Songs: ‘Tis the Season.

Winter Wonderland  – Jason Mraz with an excellent  version of this seasonal classic. The vocal has a contemporary jazz flavor and conveys warmth, upbeat energy, and fun. The production is just guitar and vocal and nothin’ else! It’s simple and it’s effective.

Learn more about creating basic, barebones arrangements. Continue reading “Get Inspired: Study Great Holiday Songs”

Holiday Songs: ‘Tis the Season

Unlike radio hits that burst on the scene then fade away, holiday songs have a long, long lifespan. Almost every major artist records at least one album of holiday songs. Sure they include the songs everyone knows and loves, but they need to sprinkle in a few potential new holiday hits, too. So, while the sights, sounds, and excitement of the season are all around., take the time to look and listen like a songwriter. Make a note of images, grab snippets of conversation. Be aware of your own feelings. Remember the holidays of your childhood. You’ll use all these ideas to make your song  fresh and emotionally honest.

One of the biggest challenges of writing a holiday song is coming up with a new idea or approach. A generic holiday song with all the usual images isn’t hard to write but it will be hard to sell. It’s been done already…a lot!

Emotional themes: “White Christmas” is a such a classic and we’ve heard it so many times, it’s easy to miss the things that make it so great. The idea of yearning for the ideal Christmas of youth – the white Christmas of dreams – is a powerful, moving theme.  What do you long for? What do you remember? Try writing a song about those feelings.  Continue reading “Holiday Songs: ‘Tis the Season”

Song Ideas: Use TV Scenes

If you find yourself looking for new song ideas and inspiration, here’s a tip that works! Watch television. I know it might sound crazy but many TV scenes are built around common emotional situations the audience can relate to. That’s just what you want for your song.

Just about any drama series will provide you with plenty of good scenes. Look for emotional interaction between two characters. Watch the scene and note the dialogue – you might even write down a few lines to get your song started.

Comedy series are not as easy to use as drama but they will work. If you choose a sitcom, check out the last 5 to 10 minutes of the show when any conflicts or problems are wrapped up and there’s often a heartfelt moment between characters.

Soaps operas, yes, good old-fashioned afternoon soaps, are a good source if you can manage to watch. (There aren’t many left.) They’re slow moving and nothing much happens but that’s because everyone is busy emoting all over the place. There’s enough emotional confrontation, regret, tearful forgiveness, and joyful reunions  to fill a couple hundred songs!

Action series are fun to watch but chase scenes and shootouts won’t give you much to work with. Like comedy series, the emotion is usually in the last  few scenes.

News shows: News shows are filled with emotionally intense drama that just happens to be real. Talk shows and interviews can also be a source. There’s a great story behind the song “I Drive Your Truck.” One of the writers saw an interview on a news show and was inspired to write the song.

Use my article How to Write a Song in 10 Steps to complete any of the following ideas.

SHOW: Classic Perry Mason TV series
Theme: Be Strong
Concept: You have the strength to meet the challenge. Those who love you will help.

  • “I know things look tough.”
  • “You’re carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders.”
  •  “Let me help you.”

Continue reading “Song Ideas: Use TV Scenes”