You Can Write A Song About Literally Anything

I started writing songs because of Bob Dylan. I was 12 years old and I remember this feeling of his songs just suddenly making so much sense to me. His songs felt big, epic in scope. It seemed like his songs contained Universal Truths about Life and The World.

So I did what any kids does when they’re just starting out: I tried to mimic him. You can imagine how this went.

I was a bit older, in high school, when another songwriting hero of mine taught me a really important lesson: Songs don’t have to be about big topics to be weighty. They can have just as much impact when they’re about “small” things, just as long as you write about something that matters to you.

The songwriter I learned this from is Jonathan Richman. My favorite example is his song “Chewing Gum Wrapper”. It is literally a song about a piece of trash. Throughout the song, though, you can feel his reverence for this little gum wrapper he saw on his walk. He stopped in his tracks; something about the faded colors and the way it was lying there made him unable to speak. It’s a silly little song. But it’s also a moving reminder to take a second to appreciate the seemingly mundane, actually beautiful world around you.

Take a moment today to check in with yourself. Take a walk and see what you see. Inspiration is everywhere, and anything can be a song.

I hold the Guinness World Record for Most Consecutive Days Writing A Song (3500 days and counting) jonathanmann.net

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