Are your natural talents decided at birth? Is songwriting skill written into your genetic destiny?
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Yes, I talked to legendary songstress Diane Warren last night. That’s Diane to the right, me in the upper left.
Even if you think you’re unfamiliar with Diane, you’ve heard at least one of her songs. Possibly dozens of them. She’s written for Eric Clapton, Roy Orbison, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Tom Jones, Olivia Newton-John, Aerosmith, Wyclef Jean, The Commodores, Diana Ross, Christina Aguilera, Michael McDonald, Whitney Houston, and Al Green… To name a few. She is a monstrously successful songwriter.
The thing I admire most about Diana is her work ethic. On average, she works maybe ten hours a day for a full seven days on each song. As she says in the interview, she’ll spend an entire day of work on just one or two lines. And she focuses on just one song for the entire week, or until it’s done.
Sorry I wasn’t able to let you know about the show beforehand, but the invitation was literally last-minute. HuffPost Live contacted me shortly before the segment aired and it was a mad scramble to get myself there.
Please note that the video clip below is NSFW. That is, it’s NOT safe for work. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll are all here in force. I appear near the end of the segment to ask Diane a few questions.
Be aware too that this interview is maybe 5% songwriting, 95% celebrity gossip. Sorry. I did what I could.
I hear songwriters say often: “There are no new songs to write.” Certain topics do come up again and again in song lyrics–romantic love and breakups are especially well-worn.
That doesn’t mean these subjects are sucked dry, though. There’s a simple way to approach a well-worn topic from a new angle:
When writing lyrics, you want your listener to feel something. But unfortunately for us, a lyric as simple as “I'm disappointed and sad, you guys” won't move an audience.
Too bad—that'd make our jobs much easier, eh?