For me, there has never been any one process for writing music. I’m often asked how I write my songs, and I always stutter a bit while I try to explain. At the risk of being cliché, I liken it to the classic chicken vs. egg conundrum. Which comes first: the music or the lyrics?
On one occasion I was trying to explain the process for one of my latest songs, “Your Lucky Day.” The song is about how sometimes the struggles in life, the things that cause us to break or lose a bit of ourselves, are really just making room for those lost parts to be filled with something better. In the moment this type of clarity and understanding always eludes me. It’s for these moments of confusion that I wrote this song to remind me of what I know to be true.
As I was explaining this to my friend, he seemed confused. I had mentioned that for this song, I actually wrote the accompaniment first, followed by writing the lyrics and melody simultaneously. He couldn’t understand how a melody could come from words, or how words could come from an accompaniment. This isn’t always the case for my process, but for this song, it was as natural as writing a verse followed by a chorus. The lyrics directed the melody, and as I continued writing, the melody directed the lyrics.
I can’t explain it, but I’m thankful for it. My songwriting process is a tortured mess of learned and developed techniques, honed over years of questioning whether or not I was really writing songs worth listening to. I’m OK with being unorthodox. It works for me. So, to answer the question of music vs. lyrics, I’ve grown to understand that for the most part, they come together.