Songwriting Is Driven By Influence


Right now, it’s a Saturday afternoon and I am sitting in my office listening to Joe Sample’s album, “Carmel” (1979). The music of Mr. Sample quiets my soul and makes me feel whole inside. I’m told he sat on the cliffs of Carmel, CA and took in the wind and the sea as he wrote his music. 

Like the sea of long ago, sliding back to my early college days, I remember wishing I could play keys like Joe did.  The beauty of his music fundamentally changed me and I wondered if I could ever perform music like that, if I could write music that good or move people the way his music had moved me.  

Songwriting is driven by influence and is hidden inside your heart and permeates all the cells of your body. Those first musical influences, in particular, are so deeply imbedded in a songwriter’s spirit that the songs you create typically have an eerie similarity to the music that originally touched your heart.   

When you enter into a collaborative with another musician or music producer, it’s a good idea to start out by having a simple conversation. Ask them about their earlier musical influences. If they loved Frank Zappa, for example, and you grew up listening to Motown, this may not be a collaborative match made in heaven. On the other hand, if they grew up loving all the same kind of music that you did, the opportunity for collaborative magic just might yield amazing results. 

Until the day you die, the memories of music from long ago will speak to you, calm you down, and show up in the music you create. 

Lisa Arreguin