Sir Paul McCartney recently revealed that songwriting has often helped him get through emotional and dark times. He told Mojo magazine: “I think it’s good when you’re in a dark period and the song is your psychiatrist. It’s your therapy.”
Now, Britney Spears has revealed that writing songs for her new album Britney Jean was like therapy for her too.
The 32-year-old singer split from her former fiancé Jason Trawick when she was working on the album and, she says, some of the new tracks are about the heartache she experienced.
While she understands some people might prefer to keep those feelings private, Britney is happy to lay herself bare through her songs.
“Actually I really kinda had no choice,” she recently told MTV News. “At the time I was going through a breakup that was kind of public, and everyone knew about it. And I felt like, it’s not a secret, so why not write about it and say how I’m feeling about it and what it feels like?”
She added: “I feel like when you write you do depict what you’re going through in your life, and that’s what I was going through at the time. So it just made sense for me, therapeutically, to write it out and get it out.”
In a recent interview with Mojo, Sir Paul McCartney said: “When you’re really upset about something, going away and putting it in your song you come out of that cupboard, toilet or basement and go, ‘I really feel better’. You’ve actually exorcised the demon. It’s one of the great joys of songwriting.”
However, it is important to avoid being too personal and too insular in your ‘therapeutic’ writing. If you still want your songs to be successful commercially, they should always be about your audience—not just you.
That means writing about experiences, hardships and situations that everyone can relate to. By writing about something that listeners experience in their own lives, you can touch people’s emotions. And if you can make the listener feel something, it’s the sign of a good song.
As US singer-songwriter Jackson Browne once remarked: “It’s all about reaching inside to something that you have in common with many.”
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“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a paperback, or as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.