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3 Ways to craft a successful song

This post loosely accompanies Gab & Jam, 298. 3 Ways to craft a successful song

This wisdom comes from the music documentary, “Nashville Songwriters: It All begins with a Song” and piggybacks on Musical Documentaries #3 episode ( ). These ideas resonated with how to craft a “successful” song.

Check out the episode for the full discussion.

What does it mean for a song to be “successful”?

We define “successful” as having touched people in some deep way, regardless of chart position and/or money earned on the track. That’s what we mean—and what the documentary intimated—by the term “successful” song.

Musical Documentaries #3:


Here are some ways to craft a successful song:

1. Write someone else’s story

There was a very touching example in the documentary to show how effective this method is. A Nashville songwriter heard a story on the news about a man whose son went off to war and died, but left his truck. The father continued to drive the truck long after the son passed, in an effort to feel closer to him. The songwriter was SO touched by this gesture that she crafted a set a lyrics around this story. The thought is that, not only will this have you approach the writing from an unusual perspective—one other than your own—but will also touch other people in a similar way that it touched you.

How to find your creative voice:

2. Write to someone (alive or dead)

In the documentary, they discussed a songwriter who took the last conversation he wanted to have with his father—but did not have the fortune to have—and crafting his thoughts into the lyrics for a song. This would be an example of writing to someone who has already passed. However, we would suggest that this same method could work when there is something that you want to express to someone who is still alive, but you haven’t had the courage to have the conversation yet. –This was indeed the case for us with us and our newly grown daughter. She has recently awakened to the reality of living and the limitations that come with it. However, we fundamentally disagreed on some of the conclusions that she had reached. This was extremely upsetting to her that we didn’t agree with her and we walked around on pins and needles for quite a while. I took the frustration I felt about the situation—and all the words that I didn’t think she was ready to hear—and created a song about those feelings. –I said all that to say that writing to someone alive or dead can create a powerful, emotion-filled set of lyrics that will undoubtedly touch someone else.

6 pieces of timeless advice for indie artists who want to make a life in music:

3. Save titles, words, bits of conversation that moves you

We’ve said this before, but always listen out for ideas that move you. Jot those down in a notebook or in a notes app. Mine those ideas as a place to start, continue, or end a song.

4. “Three chords and the truth”

One of the featured songwriters said that country music is “three chords and the truth.” We interpret this to mean that it is MORE about tapping into an idea that is universal–like hope and love–that most folks can relate to and, then, adding music. The BIG idea is that the music should serve the theme of the lyrics, since we’re all using the same chords, ostensibly, so find a way to distinguish them by entangling them with an emotional or cultural “hook”—that’s what he calls “the truth.”


So, will we do it again? HELL, YEAH! 🙌🏾 In fact, our NEXT livestream is scheduled for Friday, July 28, where we will debut for Bourgeoisie Paper Jam’s next single “It’s Gonna Be Alright.” We will also premiere the music video live and on-air—unless you are a member of our Patreon community. (If you’re in our Patreon, you will see the video one week earlier. Join here.)

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What about you?

What do you think makes a song “successful”?

Leave it in the comments below.



Did you know that along with putting together our next album, we are working on our first book?

Here’s the link, if you want to pre-order:


Here’s what we’re into now:

· We’re featured in Variety Magazine!

· The video for “Every Heartbeat” is doing well in Indonesia!

· The Tony Webb "Funkalicious" video is going crazy in Honduras, y'all!

· One of our videos for our song, “Tell Me What You Want,” is going gangbusters in Vietnam!

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Until next Monday, here’s wishing love, peace, and chicken grease!




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