Photo by Sam Jones Being a songwriter is both the best job in the world and one of the hardest. It’s the best because we make songs. We make order out of chaos, and find harmony within the dissonance. We give meaning to an increasingly crazy world, and create something timeless in a time when nothing seems to last more than a moment. And we get to live inside of music, which remains one of mankind’s most beautiful forces, as mysterious as ever, and powerful. But it’s also forever arduous, not only for the decimation and reconstruction of this industry we once knew, but because being a songwriter is a vulnerable position to be in. Songwriters necessarily feel things deeply. They have to in order to reach down into that well of emotion and swirl of ideas and capture it with the abstractions of music combined with the specificities of language. And the kind of person who wants to do that, who connects so directly with sorrow, or any intense emotion, is deeply hurt by criticism and rejection. So this songwriting thing can be painful. But it’s a necessary pain.
It takes real courage to do what we do. This is the business of putting your heart and soul out in the world, where everyone feels free to criticize and tear down what you’ve done. And it hurts. Songwriters, except if they’re genuine hacks, feel this stuff to our cores. And when somebody tears into one of your songs, it’s like an arrow straight to the heart. Because, as Randy Newman told me, songwriting is “life and death.” It’s everything. Nothing means more. Few... Sign In to Keep Reading