#7 My Top Ten Mistakes as a Songwriter The Arrangement

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We are now past the halfway mark and at mistake number 6, number 7 in the blog, which includes the introduction to the subject matter.

When you sit down to write a song on either the guitar or piano, what you play will form the foundation for the arrangement and what you are playing is an arrangement with instrument and voice. I have nothing but admiration for artists such as Ed Sherrin

who have brought the singer songwriter genre to the forefront in popular music, there is just something very satisfying and personal in this kind of performance, but it wont work for every song. I’m going to give you a very good example of this and allow you to make up your own mind on this. Lennon and McCartney must be in the hall of fame with all the great song writers and for me they are up there with Cole Porter and all the other great writers of the great American song book plus the UK of course.

The song Long and Winding Road was clearly written by Paul I’m sure John would have had some say in it but if you listen to the first link which is the version that reached the album, it has strings choirs bells etc and was arranged and produced by Phil Spectre, famous for his wall of sound, and I like it a lot.


Now go to the second link and listen to the live performance with Paul giving a solo performance on vocal and piano, take notice of the piano jabs which are now played by the string section on the full arrangement in the first version, and you can almost go through the whole song and make this comparison.


Now ask yourself this question, which version of the song touched you the most? It would be to easy for me to give an opinion here, so I’m going to let you make your own choice! Why? Because I have got it wrong both ways with my own songs, and if my memory serves me, Paul did not like the Phil Spectre version.

1…Don’t think you can just strum or play a few chords to create a cut back version and hope that people will get it, you will need to think about every chord and note as to where it should be placed in relation to the vocal. You will also need to practice a lot and do a recording and work out which notes and chords are working well with the vocal, and have you got any interesting riffs in there?

2…You must have some idea in your own head about what you want your song to sound like, your rhythm’s and hums will all be picked up by your band or arranger, let them run with this, sometimes something great will happen, but you have to think about this also because if you don’t it will come as something else. I think when you allow others to be involved in your creation, is definitely the best way to go. When I’ve tried to keep all the control and do everything myself it just has not worked for me and must go down as a mistake.

The Beatles were one of the greatest and most influential bands ever but they did have 3 great songwriters who did and didn’t work together on the songs but I think you would have to agree that the best work they produced as songwriters was when they were four and probably 5 if you include George Martin, who has been called the 5th Beatle. This leads me nicely on to mistake, number 7 your band.

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