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When Is A Song Finished?

April 16, 2009

The demo had sounded effortless. Certainly it didn’t sound finished but what recording ever does?
-Bob Dylan

When is a song finished? Is it when the lyrics are completed? Is it when you’ve pressed it and sold it? Is it when you’ve retired it from the set?

I think I’m with Dylan, in the belief that a song is never really finished. Even if you’ve been playing it for 30 years, there are things you change because a song is not dead. A song is a dynamic piece of energy, that at one point moved you to write it. As long as you still care about the song, then the song is alive and it’s unfinished.

I’ve been in the studio for a few days and with each song that I’ve recorded a part of me wants to add more and more and more to the layers of sound. Have you ever done that? Gone into a studio and tried to keep control of your music. Adding things, second guessing choices, and driving yourself crazy trying to “finish” a song? What you typically end up with is a massive studio bill and a song that you’re never really satisfied with.

Working on a song for hours leaves you dizzy and you tend to lose your judgment. If it feels right then it is right. Listen to your gut rather then your radio sensibilities, because a song is never finished it’s just finished for now.

Take Control of Your Music


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6 Comments leave one →
  1. amy Livingston permalink
    April 17, 2009 4:42 am

    when will the dylan phase be over? and who’s next? where ya been?

  2. April 17, 2009 5:07 am

    Dylan is not a phase, he’s a way of life.

  3. April 17, 2009 2:41 pm

    Great post buddies. Works on many levels.

  4. April 17, 2009 4:18 pm

    Paul Simon said the now famous “Li La Li” chorus of ‘The Boxer’ was just something he did because he didn’t have any lyrics written. Consequently it still bugs him because it feels unfinished. I can’t imagine there being anything other than “Li La Li” there-thank God he didn’t “finish” it…

  5. April 17, 2009 4:48 pm

    Same with Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes” He wanted to finish it, but then he started playing it live with the “la da da da..” chorus. It stuck and has since become one of his most popular sing-a-long choruses.


  6. April 17, 2009 5:13 pm

    Thanks Jeff!

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