Topics for songs

This question recently dropped in my inbox.

How do I decide on a topic when I’m thinking about writing a song?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Here’s what I do to get around the problem. Hopefully there will be something in here that helps you.

My strongest songs are always the ones written about a specific topic (or person, place, idea, etc) I really care about. It can be anything from my pet iguana to my baseball card collection, from chess to downhill skiing, from social causes to my favorite cartoon.

It doesn’t matter what your topic is, as long as you are passionate about it. Whenever I try to write a song on a topic that I’m not really interested in, it turns out lame, or I lose interest altogether before finishing it. It helps to be a passionate person with a lot of interests.

What kinds of things are you passionate about – think of your hobbies, your interests, your loves (and that can mean romantic love, love for your mom, your kids or your hotrod).

Another source of topics and ideas for songs is quotations. I subscribe to a free daily inspirational email quote service. There are many of these on the web. You can also get a book of quotations at your library or bookstore.

Here’s an example. I’m passionate about my guitar, no surprise there. But one time with Valentine’s Day approaching, my songwriting partner and I thought we should try to write a love song for our respective wives. It turned out a little different than we expected.


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