S.G. Goodman Offers Songwriting Advice for Evoking an ‘Old Time Feeling’

Emerging rocker singer-songwriter S.G. Goodman titles herself “the insider who is also the outsider.”

Videos by American Songwriter

Her debut album, Old Time Feeling, introduced the dynamic artist as a modern representative of her southern roots. Raised in Western Kentucky on the Mississippi River Delta, her lyrical content catalogs her isolated upbringing in a church-going family of row crop farmers and her road to becoming a prominent member of the Murray, Kentucky indie scene. The album, released last March, is a conflicted ode to the geography, people, and ideas that raised her. She wields biblical references and southern imagery to debunk rural stereotypes while addressing the complications of the archetypal framework of her native region.

Goodman’s brave collection is a highly revealing entrance into her artistry. The young songwriter had peer through several lenses of her past to evoke the nostalgia required to fulfill her poignant retrospect. Goodman shares words of advice with American Songwriter about vulnerability. She details how best to share intimacies like those of Old Time Feeling—mental health and living with OCD, as well as her sexuality and the notion that you can still love your family and community even though you may disagree with them.

First and foremost, she says, “Your best friend as a writer is the trash can. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings.”

Next, Goodman doesn’t want you to panic. “Trust that a good lyric or melody will stay with you,” the artist urges. She believes if it slips, “trust it left for a reason.” She continues, “Some of my songs started years before they came to fruition. A good song will go about its business.”

She is a firm believer in writing from a genuinely authentic headspace. “Be leary of attributing your creative flow or ability to anything outside of yourself,” she warns. “Don’t fall into the trap of believing drugs or the perfect space will always deliver. They are fake friends who will surely become enemies.”

Goodman understands songwriting is subjective, and so providing objective advice is no small feat. Comparison is not an option regarding process. Everyone’s experience is inherently personal, and there is no catch-all approach. If there was, “everyone would be writers.” She emphasizes, “If it works for you, then that is all that matters.” 

As a “carpenter wouldn’t go to work without their tools,” Goodman feels it is imperative that a writer “never be without a way to jot down that line or record that melody.” In her experience, inspiration strikes when she’s least expecting it.

“Don’t be precious,” she says, as her last, but certainly not least, inspiring piece of advice. “Your emotional attachment to a song means very little.”

More important than personal affinity is the essential checklist of storytelling as told by Goodman: “Can people remember it? Can you play in a crowded bar and silence the room for even a minute? That’s how I measure if I’ve done my job as a songwriter.”

She expands on her rules-of-thumb, adding, “What’s the point of a song if others can’t remember what you’ve shared? What’s the point of a song if it doesn’t garner an experience for it’s audience? Once you’ve chosen to share your song with others, it isn’t yours anymore. So if that is your goal, be respectful of your offering.”

Old Time Feeling is Goodman’s offering to anyone who finds solace in her story. The 10-track collection captures the inner-workings of her soul-searching journeys to make peace with her sense of place, serving as an ode to others who find themselves on the fringe. She delivered the most intimate parts of herself to her listeners in a process that both relieved her of a certain weight and made space for those who need it.

Listen to S.G. Goodman’s Old Time Feeling here.

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