Hopefully I “made ya look”. I’m all for tools so let me explain.
You’re a songwriter and you’re no doubt looking for the best information you can find. From the internet, from coaches, workshops, songwriting retreats and everything in between. There is a wealth of great info out there. Tools over rules, hopefully you’ve come across this excellent bit of advise.
So what am I talking about? I’m talking about That Guy. The one who’s learned just enough to be dangerous and just enough to hold it over you in a co-write or a conversation. You know the saying “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing?” That’s The Guy. He’s learned just enough tools to become one!
From the Urban Dictionary definition:
Someone whose ego FAR exceeds his talent, intelligence, and likeability. But, of course, he is clueless regarding that fact. He erroneously thinks he is THE MAN!
Maybe you’ve put that idea out there in your co-write and he tells you lots of reasons why that’s just not done. Usually That Guy has taken useful tools and turned them into his own rules for songwriting.
I coach songwriters all over the world and I can spend lots of time undoing what That Guy’s done. I’ve even talked to writers who have been close to tears after working with That Guy who go away thinking they have no business writing since they don’t seem to follow the gospel according to …That Guy!
If you’ve been doing this for any amount of time you know that there is no one way to write. If there are any rules, well, there aren’t any that can’t be bent or broken. And that’s where tools over rules comes in. When I coach writers I’m hoping to give them hard earned tools and wisdom, things they can try on any given writing day to help them along. In the end it’s all about them turning these tools into inspiration of their own.
In the wrong hands the best tools become a lethal weapon. Growing up my Dad and brothers could build anything, amazing with tools and always seemed to know the right ones to use. Me? Not so much. The same tool in my unskilled hands was just an instrument of destruction. To this day if my wife (who is great with tools!) will see me pick up a hammer and say “here let me help you with that” … and take it away from me.
So what can you do? If you’re in a co-write, on a social media board or wherever you find That Guy, just shine him on, don’t be intimidated. Follow your path, seek out the best tools from a master craftsman and use ‘em. Just don’t become one!
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Check out this interview in this edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!
About Mark Cawley
Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 23 years in Nashville, TN.