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4 Reasons To Work On Songwriting vs Technical Skills

October 18, 2009

I stumbled into a guitar shop the other day and was astounded by the virtuosity around me. There were some serious players but no rock stars. That’s because technical ability can only get you so far. Not many people care if you can shred faster than Van Halen. What they do care about is if you can connect with them like Lennon/McCartney. Therefore I’ve come with the awkwardly titled: Top 4 Reasons to Work on Songwriting vs technical skills.

  1. Songs are shareable, technical skills are not – Sure you can teach technical ability once you’ve mastered it. But that takes time most don’t have. Play someone Wonderwall and they’ll feel that and remember it from the first instant.
  2. Songwriting will make you more money – Yes session folks can make a lot of scratch but they’re hired guns. Although they may bring much to the table, they’re still replaceable. A great song isn’t something as disposable. No one is going to turn away Hey Jude ya dig?
  3. Songwriting is move-able – What happens when you leave you instrument at home? A songwriter is able to use whatever they need to make it happen. When your only skill is playing drum solos, being away from your kit may hinder things.
  4. Nobody remembers the shredders – Van Halen only got huge because of great songs. You only have to look at Yngwie Malmsteen to see the difference. Without great songs your career won’t go far.

The funny thing is that the best songwriters are also amazing players.  Look at the chord changes in Yesterday and you’ll understand that Paul McCartney is as phenomenal of a player as he is a songwriter. And Joni Mitchell could probably slay most guitar players out there. But they always had phenomenal melodies to underscore everything, and that’s why the world listened in the first place.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2009 6:16 pm

    Wow, what a sweet pic of Joni -she was a looker back in the day. And Pat Metheny on guitar and Jaco Pastorious on bass? Insane.

  2. October 18, 2009 6:54 pm

    I know right! What a super group.

  3. October 19, 2009 5:33 pm

    Mmm ya you hit it home on this one man. I was worried you were dismissing technique but you twisted it round on me. Simple melodies are memorable and easily reproduced. People like a song they can hum or whistle.

  4. Chivas aka mikel marion permalink
    October 21, 2009 6:31 pm

    So true!

  5. February 1, 2010 3:31 am

    You know what? I agree with 100%. I spent many hours shredding away in my bedroom all for what? Nothing! After many moons I realized point No4. Shredders don’t usually get remembered! I quickly started to learn how to write songs and I changed my hero’s from Vai to Sting/Crowded House/Jeff Buckley etc.

    Thanks for the article.


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