What has inspired a song for you?

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kc5's picture

I just got done browsing through the forum about what everyone is reading. What I want to know is, what books, articles, news stories, experiences and beauty or tragedy has inspired you to write a song as a result of reading, dreaming , observing or experiencing?

You want specifics? There was one time I was inspired to write a song based on the last line of a news segment... the only line I actually heard... "And 20,000 rubber duckies... lost at sea." I've written songs inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Hamlet, HP Lovecraft, Romeo and Juliet, Harry Potter, Star Trek, my friends' relationships, limericks... I mean pretty much everything that I like I write about.

During my first 50/90 in 2013 marvsmooth inspired me to write Cabbage White!


I've written five or six songs resulting from the passing of our friend Hoops during and since FAWM.

I've also written a lot of songs from a libertarian (political) view point. Most of them not in FAWM or 50/90, though.

I've written a song about a local(ish) teenage murderer (she killed a younger child) and about the teenager who killed herself in Florida because of bullying a few years ago.

I wrote a song, based loosely on a friend, about agoraphobia. Or at least his agoraphobic tendencies.

Man, the list is pretty long once you get to thinking about it.

I would say the central theme is a relationship I had with someone, (or knew about), or an observation in nature that struck me as funny.

The inspiration for my songs is hard to describe, a lot of my stuff is fueled by Love Live and K-On but not in the way one might expect. With the way I write lyrics I normally don't take inspiration from stories such as quick feelings. I mostly write from seeing a picture. I saw an image of Kermit riding a bike in a pinstripe suit and instantly came up with lyrics in a minute or two. It's very quick for me.

Like others here, my sources for inspiration are eclectic. They include news stories, photographs, headlines, TV episodes, one-liners heard in passing on the street or in a cafe, sites like 'dear old love' and 'postcard secret', my feelings about an old love or a friend who's died, nature, birds that land on my balcony railing, and so on. A lot of ideas come from books as well as current events. I've written a few protest lyrics. Guess I could say I'm open to be inspired by anything at all.
I rarely need to look for things to inspire me. Any temporary writer's block I might experience is more to do with a lack of energy to write at a particular moment rather than a lack of something to write about. Wink

My inspiration for a song has included a Facebook post of someone complaining about not having any songs. I was like, "That sounds like lyrics of a song. Here, now you're listed as a collaborator on it."

kc5's picture

Yes, @katpiercemusic I was looking for specifics. I should have been more specific in that I wondered what sort of things just fill you with so much emotion that it spills out inspiration. For me, it usually is a setting. I remember one time riding home and the way the sun lit up the cloud lining inspired a song. I also recall that one of my favorite writes came out of sitting on a dock at a camp my family was staying a. There is also a memory of mine that lingers that I've yet to write a song about, which was one of my favorite memories--something I would go back to in a millisecond and re-experience it was so beautiful and soothing. I would say moments in God's creation, even if not the topic I write about, is still often the inspiration of a song.

kc5's picture

@tcelliott Friendships and relationships are great inspiration for songs, especially shared moments. It does seem the passing of a friend would conjure up the most special qualities of that person and times shared together and it would be such an inspiration to write on--Those moments of deep impact and emotion.

I can also see how standing up against injustice, such as bullying, could be inspiring for songwriting.

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@Donna Devine Your sentiments are inspiring. It makes me think how cool it would be to happen upon some old, old letters and postcards during wartime passed between lovers. I so wish I could get my hands on my gram's old journals. She used to write to soldiers simply so they would get mail (before she was married), during WWII. Those would be interesting, too, I think. That's a fascinating time, I think anyway. You say energy is a factor for you in writer's block. For me, being overtired or overwhelmed can cause writer's block, though lack of energy I can write through as long as I am not feeling like I need sleep. Oh also, too much social interaction in a short period of time can wipe my brain--those are song-sappers for me.

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Same here @JamKar!

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You sound like your brain sees in pictures, [@BarryGoldman]. Me too!

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Yes, @johnstaples, I find friends are a great support for songwriting!

kc5's picture

Easy lyrical collaboration for the other party, @yam655!

I think for me I just write about whatever happens to be the topic or theme at hand! It could be my family, or a situation, or the weather, or my health, or some upcoming event, or whatever. As you know, @kc5, my songwriting well seems to run pretty deep at times! Biggrin

kc5's picture

You do have a broad selection of songwriting, topics @metalfoot. Smile

I just got done seeing Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet. At one point I was very impressed because they started throwing egg shakers at the audience and for them to play on 2 and 3 of a waltz. That takes balls. To show my appreciation I will write a spirited waltz with my souvenir egg shaker... That is if I ever get out of Grand Central. 125th is having a bad week.

Seems like a lot of us have wells that run pretty deep! And you all probably feel the same way that I do - that just being involved in a challenge community inspires you. (And, like me, many of you have written meta-songs about the challenges themselves.)
Since I set out every Feb 1 to write 14 songs and every July 4 to write 50, that's inspiration enough - if I say I'm going to do it, I'm going to figure out a way to get it done. So my idea antennae are raised even higher than usual at those times.
And this morning, I was thinking of this thread and I realized how many ideas have come to me when I take our dog for her morning walks. Sometimes the idea is based on something that I observe on the walk, and I've come up with a few songs about my dog, too. I was also inspired this morning to start another thread, which I'll do shortly, about what times of day we prefer to write.

cts's picture

Current events, past personal events...I've written songs about politics, relationships, love, religion, fears, triumphs, passions; these are just a few. I'm also inspired by so many in this community. No joke. I'm so glad I've found this place....

Whatever I find meaningful and I strive to convey the feeling I get. Sometimes it comes from books, conversation, observations, nature, memories, prompts, challenges, etc. Sometimes I need to connect two or more seemingly unrelated things and find a meaningful connection.

I find that teenage crushes are a great source of inspiration. In addition to that, I often write stream-of-consciousness and extract lyrical snippets to use (inspired by Rivers Cuomo's technique on Weezer's White Album). These can be about love, politics, whatever. Pretty much anything goes.

Everything can be an inspiration. I was stung on the ear by something and it swelled up for several days.
Every time I looked in the mirror I thought to myself; you look like a clown with that big ear.So I wrote a clown song . Flipping through the radio channels I heard an evangelist begging for money say something really outrageous as he tried to guilt people into sending in donations.A good while later he was the inspiration for a song.
Dreams seem to be a particularly fertile garden for song inspiration. A baby picture produced a decent song.Media articles and current events Love or the lack of it. Books and movies-even terrible ones usually have a good song idea or a great quote. I started writing things down cause sometimes the idea will fly away and as I get older, Ralphie's hard drive gets more and more corrupted. I haven't completed a song since February but there is a pretty good Idea Bank on the memo app of my phone now.

@RalphCarl - I wrote a song about being stung by a sting ray a few 50/90s ago. I've written a few other sickness/injury songs over the years, too. But I don't think I've ever written a clown song.
This morning, I was listening to a country song, and a couplet came to mind that fit the melody of the song. I wrote it down for 50/90. That happened with a Bob Dylan blues song a few weeks ago, and from that I wrote a song of my own for the Facebook skirmish group. Because they were traditional-sounding songs with common chord progressions, they sound like thousands of other songs. But the lyrics are all mine (well, maybe some borrowing).

Travel is my fertile source of inspiration. Returning from Asia in May, I took ten minutes on the plane to write a song about mangoes. And later a song I wrote as a gift for a good friend I left there. I stayed up all night recording a demo of it.