These posts on songwriting are not written from a professional point of view. These are just my thoughts as I experience new aspects of the craft. The best part of these posts will be your input.
Whenever I hear a new song that just blows me away, my first thought is always the same. "What was going on inside of them when the author wrote that?" It's so cool to study the origins of the old hymns of our faith, and learn what inspired them as they wrote those timeless lyrics. I also love hearing the stories behind the modern hymn writer's songs. Think about it. Is there anything better in worship music than a truly inspired song? It can be so deep.
As songwriters, inspiration can pop up from everywhere. Sometimes it pops up in everyday stuff or watching TV. I wrote a song one time after watching Oprah. I remember Lisa Marie Presley was on talking about how she never really denying her identity as "Elvis' daughter". She said, "Denying him is denying a part of myself." I immediately thought of our Heavenly Father, and how He is the biggest part of us and our existence.
One of my recent songs, that is a favorite at our church, is called "Beautiful Scene". That came out of a staff meeting where someone was sharing a highlight from a book he was reading that had the phrase "beautiful scene" in it. It was truly a moment from God, and I immediately heard the melody line and the lyrics sitting there. I think I literally ran to my office after the meeting to start working on it.
I've written songs in the midst of a prayer. I would be praying and something would come out and I would stop praying and begin to write this prayer in the form of a song.
I still think my favorite songs are scripture songs. Those songs that God gives us as we obediently study His Word. When I first started writing, I was immediately inspired by Matt Redman and his numerous worship songs that are traced to a scripture.
Sometimes, I'm inspired while listening to other songs. Recently, I wrote a song called "Jesus Christ" after listening to "Creed" by Rich Mullins. I suddenly felt the urge to write a doctrinal-centered song about our Savior.
Then, we have the songs from the Spirit. The Apostle Paul calls them "spiritual songs". These are songs that you just can't explain. They just come out. The song "Breathe", by Marie Barnett, is one of those songs. It was birthed in the middle of a worship service and they just went with it. Now, it's sung in churches all over the world. These songs are truly gifts from God.
Like I said, inspiration can come from anywhere. We just have to be aware, and be willing to respond to the inspiration we receive. In contrast, there are times where we may force songs out. This is when we try write something that we don't have yet. For me, I'm becoming more and more aware of these moments, and I do what I can to resist them. Lately, I've been learning to write about something that's been stirring inside of me currently. Usually, it's something that I've been thinking about a lot, so there's a lot of ideas.
Inspiration brings flavor to a song. It takes it from commonplace to original and organic.
What inspires you?