7 Steps to writing a song you’re proud of.

Playing iive at the Bunkakaikan in Japan.

There are 7 factors that I require when writing a  song that makes me happy and they are:

1) Emotions: The best place to find these are through the turmoils of your life.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  They are the driving force behind wanting to write something in the first place.

2) Catchy melody: Usually my songs start with some sort of chord progression on the guitar but not always. Then a vocal melody wrapped around the chords in an interesting and satisfying way. If you interviewed most famous songwriters, they’d tell you most of their best songs seemed to channel through them in an almost effortless fashion. If I look back on the songs I’ve written, I’d agree that my stronger songs were the ones that seemed to write themselves.

3) Strong lyrics: If you put strong lyrics with a very catchy melody then you’ve got something to be proud of for sure. Don’t ignore the importance of lyrics.  I’ve only recently realized that they are the “icing on the cake”.  A great melody gets you far but if you have lyrics that connect, they you’ve made a fan or two.  Write from the heart.  Write about something we all can relate to but do it in a way that you feel hasn’t been done before.  For example, write a love song without using the world “love”, or write a happy song with “minor chords”.  Whatever you do, make it ‘yours‘. 

4) Re-writing: This is where a lot of people fail miserably. They’re always too damn proud of their first take and are afraid to throw away something to make the song better because they really like one line.  Don’t be afraid to trash a line even if it was your best line.  If it doesn’t fit, save it for something else.

Changing Chords and melody can lift a song too. Sometimes for example, you can replace the root chord with a minor 6 and give it some mood.

5) Play it live: Play your song to your friends and ask for honest opinions. Don’t let the negative vibes get you down either. A lot of the time, you’re friends won’t know what they’re talking about- but a good song is pretty much universally liked and you’ll be able to weed out the good from the bad and generally get a sense of what is strong.

6) Write lots: You’ll get different opinions on this but for me, writing a lot of songs just makes me a better songwriter. It’s like learning to play the guitar. If you practice every day, you’re going to be much better than if you play it once a month.

7) Sleep on it: It’s weird but often I’ll wake up in the morning and play the new song again and it doesn’t have the same impact on me. That’s a sign that perhaps it just wasn’t the hit song I was planning on retiring on.

But I’m sure I’ve got one in me ready to surprise the world.  It’s just around the corner!  🙂

Good luck fellow songwriters.

In Melbourne Australia with the legendary Greg Arnold.


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Album #6 begins pre production.

Hiroshima showtime.

Song-writing, wrong-writing, and prolong-writing are what stages I am in at the moment.  If I don’t have a good song, then I shouldn’t bother making the next album.  Right now I feel I have around 3 songs that are possibilities for the new CD.  That leaves me with half a year to write another 7 or 8 worthy of being on an album.  It’s been really tough to find quality creative downtime this year.  It’s been busy to say the least.  I’m hoping if I can get some co-writing adventures going it could spark a fresh and burning fire of hot tunes.  I always want to make the new CD sound a little different from the last one but no matter how hard one tries; there are always elements of a song that are uniquely you.

I plan on working with Producer Greg Arnold again.  The established and credible songwriter/producer wants to make the next album with me in Nashville Tennessee.  Although, he is an Aussie, he has some solid connections with accomplished people in the industry there.  Another reason I MUST bring my game face with me.  But as I move quickly through life as a musician, the one thing I know that remains true in this crazy poor-mans industry is this:  It all starts with a great song.  It’s the peak of a mountain.  The rest flows naturally into the hands of fans or into a sea of mediocrity.

I yearn for the challenge and fear the failure equally.

…Sounds like a song in there somewhere….    😉    Hopefully an albums worth!

Here are my February Twitter blogs.

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  1. I stoled me old mans car once. Hoped he wouldn’t notice. NOTE TO SELF: If there’s ever a time to do that…it would be NOW ’cause I’m mature.

  2. Cold Play kicked butt at the 2009 Grammy’s.

  3. Just dropped a good chunk of cash on Pro Tools 8 and a new condenser microphone. It had to be done….. Back to work now!

  4. Derek Sivers is technically retired but he’s still providing heaps of wealthy information. Make sure you go to his site http://sivers.org/

  5. My enjoyable afternoon down by the local river might have turned into a cold. Hope not.

  6. Sneaking to the gym earlier than work allows but if I don’t, I won’t get it in today. Have a Shinenkai party (start of year) I must go to.

  7. Friday morning and the sun is shining. I just downloaded some updates of my favourite podcasts to enjoy at the gym.

  8. I could have used a few more hours of sleep last night. I’m dragging my sorry self around this morning.

  9. Hi! If you think I add value to your network, do drop me a recommendation at http://mrtweet.net/kellypet… Much appreciated!

  10. Don’t ever knock the Theme Park industry as a major source of income for musicians. If you can keep your case open also, LIFE will be GOOD.

  11. Gonna upgrade to Pro Tools 8. It’ll be the newest & best Digidesign for about a month. Then it’ll become old. Gotta love going digital

  12. I’m addicted to podcasts. I find myself running to them instead of solid music. Sign of my age?

  13. Al Gore paints another horrifically clear picture of the devastation humans made for life on Earth & I’m totally shamed and bummed by it.

  14. Just joined twitter to my Facebook page. One less things to worry about. http://www.kellypettit.com

  15. I’ve been looking for a famous duet song to sing with a female artist. The last time I did that was Indigo Girls “Closer to Fine”. Ideas?

Text Messaging

Depending where you live in the world, text messaging from your phone is either big or it isn’t. I live in Japan and from what I’ve read; Japan and Australia are the two biggest text messaging countries in the world.

Our thumbs were not designed to text message.

I text message because I’m a cheap bastard! But at the end of the day, which is really more important, saving a wee bit of cash, or saving time?

Here’s my biggest question. How important is it that you must text message when:

1)     You’re driving! (this one is literally KILLING PEOPLE)

2)     You’re at a movie theatre (you’re the most annoying person I have ever seen)

3)     You’re in a busy place by yourself and you want to look important (we see right through you)

4)     You just got an email from someone you don’t know on Facebook (once again-hope it makes you feel important)

The list is endless really. My point is, COME ON PEOPLE! How about checking out the scenery, or chatting with a stranger on the bus instead of a text from FIND A DATE.

Oh…hang on….. I better finish this later, just got an email from Mr. Tomo saying,

Hi, I’m at home watching YouTube, what are you doing”?