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A Muse Zing
2000 Danny McBride, All rights reserved.

I haven't written a song all week. In fact I haven't written more than a couple of lyric lines all month, and THEY won't be working together in the same song. Well, I do have to confess that I did find two unique chords that sound good together when I dropped my guitar, but that's about it. The first chord was an attempt to catch the guitar before it hit the floor, and the second chord was when it actually DID hit the floor. I've been trying to re-create them all day with the guitar in my lap, but I can't seem to get the fingering. (Martin lovers, do not fret (sorry)...It was my Tele...I once knew a guy whose apartment building caught fire and he saved his Tele by throwing it out of the third story window. When he got down to the street, it was lying on the sidewalk, still in tune.)

So why haven't I been able to create anything of note (sorry again) all month? Because I have been overwhelmed with songwriting help. I made the mistake of going to the library and getting one of those "helpful" songwriting books. After I read it- -many days later- -I had to go and get all the other publications listed at the back of the book. And, of course, click on all of the web sites, and read them, and subscribe to more stuff, and read that, and now I'm so inundated with help, I can't seem to write anything.

I'll get over it, as soon as I can get some of the "help" out of my head: "The Key of E and You"..."Write What You Know Even If You Don't Know Anything"..."Words and Lyrics- -How To Tell Them Apart"...and my personal favorite..."Hooks, Lines, and Clinkers- -How To Know If Your Writing Really Sucks As Bad As You Think It Does".

Now, more than any time in the past, there is so much "help" for songwriters. If you read it all, you'll never have time to do any writing. In fact, stop reading this right now, and go try something out...I'll wait. Good. How was it?

See, there's lots of formulaic suggestions- -come up with a title that's catchy, then write the song- -that if you follow too many of these suggestions, what you write may be very well crafted, but won't necessarily be anything your friends and family begin humming around the house. And that's when you know you REALLY have something...when the people around you that hear your "work in progress" started humming or whistling or singing unconsciously that very ditty you've been slaving over. This is a key (sorry) factor ESPECIALLY if they are not musicians or songwriters. When civilians start singing or remembering fragments of what you're working on, you know you've hit (sorry) on something.

Remember the most important axiom in show business: Nobody Knows Nothing. If they did, why would so much dreck see the light of day, not just in music, but in film, television- -you name it. We all have a long list of "stuff we can't believe got financial backing and got made and released"....How long is YOUR list? Stick to your gut feelings and and don't get too bogged down in what other people think you ought to be writing. Only YOU write what you write (one would hope). Take all the suggestions you can, and then throw out what isn't you. And remember this other show business axiom: Never Form A Trio With A Married Couple.

Danny McBride is a singer/songwriter/musician who has played guitar with dozens of well known acts such as ShaNaNa, including the TV series and movie GREASE, as well as Freddy Fender, Mary Wells, Chuck Berry, Delaney and Bonnie, Bo Diddley, Conway Twitty, Roger Miller, Bobby Day, and many, many more. Visit him at Danny's C D "16 TUNES...and whaddaya get...A Songwriter's Portfolio" is available from and other music sites. He lives in Los Angeles. Visit The Boston Rock & Roll Museum at (Danny is originally from Boston.)

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