What the pros have to say …

Paul Simon “I don’t consciously think about what a song should say.  In fact, I consciously try not to think about what a song should say . . . I’m interested in what . . . I find, as opposed to . . . what I’m planting.  I like to be the audience, too.  I like to discover what it is that’s inte-resting to me.  I like to discover it rather than plot it out.  So I let the songs go this way and that way and this way and whatever way it is and basically what I do is be the editor: “Oh, that’s interesting.  Never mind that, that’s not so interesting.  That’s a good line, that’s a good line.” (P. Zollo at 95.)  

Bob Dylan “It’s nice to be able to put yourself in an environment where you can completely accept all the unconscious stuffthat comes to you from your inner workings of your mind.  And block yourself off to where you can control it all, take it down … Edgar Allen Poe must have done that.”  (P. Zollo at 72). 

Stevie Wonder “We were just playing . . . we had the rhythm machine going and I just kept playing that melody and it just felt like isn’t she lovely is what the song should say . . . So I just took that moment that I felt and, when I sat down to really write words to it, I just tried to put together as best I could the experience that I had had and how I felt.” (Discussing the writing of “Isn’t She Lovely” interview with Tavis Smiley, Dec 17, 2010; he was excited about the birth of his daughter Aisha).

Bill Withers “To me, songwriting is you sitting around scratching yourself and something crosses your mind.”  (Interview with Carl Wiser from Songfacts.com January 2, 2004)

Chris Martin (Coldplay) “Nobody knows where it comes from; it’s like being a fisherman.  You can have all the rods and jackets but you can’t really make the fish come to you.  I just sit and play and play and play, and wait, and when a good song comes … I don’t have any idea of where it’s come from.  All I can say is that it’s just time, I just put the hours in … If you design a song it’s never as great as if a song just arrives.”  (Chris Martin interview. May 2006 pt1 on interview with Joe Levy guest interviewer on Charlie Rose Program)