The quest to write, record, produce and release a song a week. To read why I’m doing such a thing as well as being a full-time producer and musician for others, check out the first ‘A Song A Week’ blog post HERE.
A Song A Week is written by me, a songwriter and musician, but it appeals to people from all walks of life and professions, so no matter how you’ve found yourself here, try to take something from it and implement it in your own life.
Welcome to Week 21 of the A Song A Week blog. I’m going to dive straight in with some thoughts and musings on my latest song ‘On Our Own’…
I massively recommend listening to the song whilst you’re reading, so if you don’t have Spotify, then you can listen on iTunes/Apple Music HERE or EVEN BETTER, to support the blog, podcast, the song itself and ME you can get the song directly at the amazing PATREON HERE or on the picture below ↓
It’s also available on all major streaming and music stores across the internet, just search for ‘Tom B. Cooper’ on your preferred service and I’ll show up!
Where To Start
Hello! I trust you’re well.
Well, where to start indeed?!
That’s a question I ask myself every single week when I sit down to write my new song for A Song A Week and that was certainly no different with On Our Own.
You see, if I’m writing for a brief, or co-writing for another artist, or for TV or film, I’ve already got so many things I can draw upon to inform some cool places to start with songwriting.
But when I’m writing for myself then I have no set genre, no target audience, no brief, no record label, no nothing!
Just me and an instrument and a pad and a pen and oftentimes no inspiration whatsoever.
So, ‘where to start’ really is an important question and one that I asked myself before I started ‘On Our Own’ and one I’ve been asking myself for many years now, but since the start of 2017 I’ve been asking myself exactly once a week.
Well, I’ve tried and succeeded in starting on the bass guitar, starting with lyrics, humming a tune in the shower, having a rhythm in my head, seeing something happening in the street and thinking I could make a song out of it and a whole heap of other things.
On the flip side of that I’ve tried and failed in all manner of ways of writing a song too.
I’m not going to go into any detail, but I once sang the ingredients from a carton of soya milk to see if I could get any inspiration for lyrical meter and rhyming scheme… needless to say that fell flat on its arse.
You see, the smart thing for me to do would be to say ‘Tom, you’re a singer-songwriter, so write your songs on an acoustic guitar.’ Or ‘Tom, you should make sure the next 10 songs you write are heavy metal songs for some coherence and sanity.’ Or ‘Tom, the thing that the punters are really digging at the moment is minimal electronic with avant-garde lyrics and whips vocals.’
I COULD say that and maybe I should – but the reality is, I’d probably get a bit bored. At the end of the day, A Song A Week is a chance for me to have some fun and experiment and flex my songwriting and producing muscles.
You see, my day to day job as a producer is so varied. I work with everyone from rock bands to solo singer songwriters, to 9-piece jazz-funk bands etc. and I bloody love it, but I’m having to stick to deadlines and run the sessions on schedule, on budget and keep everyone happy as well as a creative and enjoyable environment for all involved.
I’m always listening to and seeking out new music (I don’t necessarily mean current either. I’m just as happy discovering a U2 song from the 80’s I’ve never heard, as I am hearing the latest offerings from Berlin’s underground techno scene) and in doing so I’m keeping my mind, influences and inspiration alive.
Truth be told, I grew up listening to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen etc. and going to my Dads rock ‘n’ roll gigs, then when I was teaching myself how to play bass and guitar, I did so to the likes of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Muse, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Hendrix and the aforementioned Beatles, Zep, Queen etc. so ‘rock’ will always be what I naturally and easily migrate to.
‘Get to the point, Coops!’
OK, my point is this… when you’re feeling a little un-inspired and things aren’t flowing as naturally as normal (as they were in the case of On Our Own) do something to get you out your comfort zone.
Now, On Our Own doesn’t sound like it’s too drastically different from a few of my other releases, especially the more recent ones like In My Mind, Mirror Ball or even an earlier one like When You Come My Way, but they all had very different ways of starting off.
When I’d been sat for a wee while and I just wasn’t feeling it, I decided to go for a walk with the dog and see what I could come up with in my head.
Now, all I came up with that I actually ended up keeping with On Our Own at all was the idea of having the dual arpeggiated synth and guitar part that you hear right at the very start of the song and carry on throughout.
It’s kind of ethereal and dreamlike and had I just recorded what I thought of as soon as I’d got in from the walk, the song would’ve been really different and probably shitter, but rather than sit there getting frustrated with myself I just thought ‘right bugger this – walk I go… come on Star Pig!’ (that’s my dog, by the way!)
Now the cool thing is, there’s probably elements of lots of different inspirations and influences, but On My Own has ended up as this unique little song that I had absolutely no pressure to write, other than my own timescale of writing a song a week and it’s turned out as a little melting pot of lots and lots and lots of different sounds and production techniques and mixing influences.
So really, what I’m getting at is that sometimes you’ll know exactly where to start and that may or may not be dictated to you by external factors, but it’ll make things a hell of a lot easier.
Other times you’ll have absolutely no frigging clue what to do so you’ve got to decided to either go with what’s comfortable in your decision making (a perfectly great and clever option) or you throw caution to the wind and do something radical… like taking your dog for a walk!!!
I’m starting to realise so much that in doing something for myself, I’m having to think differently. A Song A Week isn’t my job. Not really anyway – it’s a hobby that happens to be linked very closely with my job and one that I take incredibly seriously, so in order for me to keep the interest and the passion alive, I have to approach writing and producing a little differently to how I do when I’m working with and for other artists.
Next time you’re stuck for an idea or two, try doing something different. Star Pig could always do with a walk, so you can always borrow her!
Thank you so much for reading. I hugely appreciate it. The absolute best way you can support me and this blog is by listening to and sharing my music and what I’m doing, so you can…
It’s also available on all major streaming and music stores across the internet, just search for ‘Tom B. Cooper’ and this song and all the rest will show up!
I absolutely love doing A Song A Week, but they take up a lot of my own time and money, which as a self-employed musician, I don’t have a lot of either of those things! So you can also show your support on Patreon by clicking the image below, or by clicking right HERE. (If you haven’t heard of Patreon, it’s absolutely awesome for you and for people like me, so go go go!)
I also do a weekly podcast to go with the A Song A Week blog, which I actually record as I go, so it’s really like you’re there with me as the song goes from idea to fully finished. To listen and subscribe to the A Song A Week Podcast, click the image below or right HERE. (If you’re on iTunes, otherwise just search for ‘Tom B. Cooper A Song A Week’ in your preferred podcast service and it’ll show up! Or, there’s a link on your right in the sidebar)
Peace and happy music making.
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