How to Listen Like a Songwriter? Be a Poet on a Motorcycle

Professional songwriters, from all walks of life, recommend listening to songs judiciously. So, stop doing whatever you’re doing, find a silent place, play some music, and listen to it wholeheartedly.

Professional songwriters, from all walks of life, recommend listening to songs judiciously. So, stop doing whatever you’re doing, find a silent place, play some music, and listen to it wholeheartedly. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Listening like a songwriter demands immense attention; you have to focus on each tiny detail and shun those feelings that envelop you.


“It’s all about listening deeply, from a professional songwriter’s ear.” There is a fine line between what you’re listening to, and what you’re REALLY listening to. The more you perceive that line, the easier for you it would be to write the blank checks of success in your career. Now, before we move further and tell you exactly how you can listen like a songwriter, it’s important that we share something imperative. According to a famous musician, Dierks Bentley, “You can’t write about stuff you don’t know about. You have to live it. You have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Live life to be a good songwriter.” And, he has a point. You need to live a life of a song, before you write the best chapters of it.


So, what specifically should you be listening for? After canvassing the work of other professionals, we’ve arranged some exceptional tips for you, which will tell you exactly what you should listen for if you want to become a great songwriter.


Are you ready to pull your socks up? Let’s begin…



Relish the Song


Yes! Just pick a song and take pleasure in it. That’s the first thing you need to do. Listen to it like you normally would. This is because it’s immensely important to feel the feel of a song. It’s crucial to apprehend how you’re associating yourself with it. Don’t think a lot; if you have some song on your iPod, cell, or laptop, just play it and enjoy it. Of course, you’d be familiar with it, but in case you are not, get familiar; listen to it over and over again. In addition, if it’s possible, sing with the singer. You have to take out your feeling; you have to sink yourself deep in its pleasure.



Now Listen Again


This time you’ll “REALLY” listen. First, be as attentive as possible, as now you need to canvass the song like some secret-agency’s interrogator. Attempt to comprehend the topic of it. Is it a love song, sad song, or a fun song? Analyze its lyrics. Learn them. Think what it is about the lyrics that move you; which lines, which words, or which stanzas have the most latent power? The more you’ll involve yourself in this, the more you’ll listen like a songwriter. Furthermore, try to you whether the lyrics of the song are doing justice to its topic, or overall tone. Though this is a lot to do, with a bit of practice, you’ll do it.



Songwriter’s Choices


Of course, listen once more. This time ponder the songwriter’s choices. There are various questions you must ask yourself. For instance, why did he choose this topic? What was his motivation behind it? What is he actually trying to convey? Is he successful in delivering his true emotion or message through the lyrics? You have to think about everything from a songwriter’s point of view. It should be like you’re in the ultimate position of power; the songwriter is your student, and you’re there to give him marks or criticize his work.



It’s Your Song


What if we say it’s your song and you’re the writer of it? While listening to it, think about what obstacles are in the song. What are the missteps? What can you exactly do with the lyrics to make that song even more powerful? When you assess like this, the hype of the song would automatically water down in your eyes; you’ll start hearing it from a totally different perspective. Besides, it’s also possible that you’ll truly find some more powerful words or stanzas that will complement the song even more. Notice how the mind of the actual songwriter differs from you; just be as creative as you can. Be a poet on a motorcycle.



Melody is Important


Melody is magical; it turns the lyrics into the actual song. So, judge whether the melody is stable or unstable. Is it suitable for the song? Other than that, focus on each component of the melody piece by piece. First, analyze how the drums or the bass is supporting the song. Next, shift your focus onto the guitar etc. This kind of individual assessment in melody would even let you discover those things that would be unknown for a normal ear. Plus, this would also facilitate you in understanding the basics of music theory, which will be supportive when you decide to write your own songs; you can play the music in your head while singing them.



Concluding Thoughts


All in all, if we said listening like a songwriter isn’t that tough, it would be utterly correct. All you need is to learn a few steps and put in a bit of practice and you’ll be listening to songs like professionals in no time. Apart from this, every great songwriter is a great song-listener first. This is because it allows him to unleash its creativeness and introduce new and innovative ideas in the lyrics.


So, what are you waiting for? Collect some albums and start listening to them immediately like an expert. Use the above step-by-step strategy; it will assist you in pulling all the right levers of the song and provoke new thoughts in your mind; the only limit would be your imagination. Besides, as they say, a chef can’t be a chef if he can’t taste. Similarly, a songwriter can’t be a songwriter if he can’t understand all the facets of the song. Therefore, increase the volume now, and notice how a song turns into amazing music that moves millions.

The SongCat Team

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About the Author
The SongCat Team

We believe in supporting artists of all levels of their musical journey, from the 40-year music business veteran, to the burgeoning songwriter who are looking to polish their craft. We also believe that creating professional, high quality, and expertly mixed recordings shouldn’t be limited to high budget record deals.

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