Songwriting Techniques From a Master, Jimmy Webb

Songwriting Techniques - Starting with a great title.

I was on the search for good song titles this week... (look here for last week's newsletter about a simple songwriting process that begins with finding good titles.)

I looked through newspapers and magazines and kept my ears peeled to the radio for song titles that might emerge like gifts - from an intro or some idle radio-chatter.

I discovered that intriguing song titles can be found everywhere!

Here are several that stuck with me: It's A Muddy Road; She's Done Sharing; Hunting For Clues; Yeah, About That; The High Low.

And then today I was in the recording studio with a good friend (Claire Duchesneau) who is making her first CD.

Claire has a knack for finding unforgettable songs. (Hint.. it takes a lot of research.) One song title grabbed my attention immediately: "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress."

Written by the wonderful songwriter, Jimmy Webb, the song's melody lives up to the magic of the title. While I would love to offer you Claire's version, which is stunning, it is still at the studio being mixed. So here's a link to the songwriter himself singing his song:

The Moon Is Harsh Mistress - sung by Jimmy Webb

Webb, who took the title from a sci-fi book by Robert Heinlein called, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, spoke about writing the song in an interview...

"‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ was one of the best titles I’ve ever heard in my life. I really am guilty of appropriating something from another writer. In this case I had contact with Robert A. Heinlein’s attornies. I said, “I want to write a song with the title, ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.’ Can you ask Mr. Heinlein if it’s okay with him?” They called me back and he said he had no objection to it."

There are many ways to find inspiration for songwriting. Stumbling upon a great title on the cover of a book is just one of many. So if you are a singer who also writes songs, keep your eyes and your ears peeled for great titles. Just two or three powerful words can spark that illusive creative process and get you rolling!

Here's the interview with Webb if you are interested in more on songwriting techniques from a long-standing star in the music business: Songwriting Techniques - Jimmy Webb Interview


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