SONGWRITING TIPS AND ADVICE ON THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOUND IN ALL HIT SONGS

Tag Archives: Hal David

Photo: David Shankbone

Photo: David Shankbone

Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Billy Joel is to be honoured with the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He will receive the prize in Washington, D.C. in November.

Joel follows in the footsteps of six previous recipients: Carole King, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney and songwriting partners Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David.

The Gershwin Prize honours individuals for lifetime achievement in popular music. It is named after legendary songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billlington said: “Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order. There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music.”

Billy Joel said: “The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”

Six-time Grammy Award winner Billy Joel was presented with a Grammy Legend Award in 1990. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

During his 50-year career, he has had 33 Top 40 hits and has sold more than 150 million records worldwide. His Grammy awards include Song of the Year and Album of the Year in 1978 for ‘Just the Way You Are’.

Since releasing his first hit song, ‘Piano Man’, in 1973, Joel has become the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the United States.

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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 and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK),  HERE (Australia)  and HERE (Canada).

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The legendary songwriting team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff are set to receive the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the 45th Annual Induction and Awards ceremony in New York City on June 12.

The Mercer Award is the highest honour bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It is reserved for a songwriter or songwriting team whose body of work is of such high quality and impact that it upholds the standard set by Johnny Mercer himself.

Philadelphia-based Gamble and Huff will join past Mercer Award recipients Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Anka, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, and Cy Coleman.

“It will be our pleasure to welcome Gamble and Huff into the circle of superwriters who have received the Johnny Mercer Award,” said Jimmy Webb, the Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman and a fellow recipient of the Mercer award. “They have met the standard with a series of indelible melodies and lyrics, and an enviable string of number one records and gold and platinum discs.”

Over the past 50 years, Gamble and Huff have written over 3,500 songs together, including 50 pop and R&B chart hit singles. They have won five Grammy Awards and 86 BMI Pop and R&B Awards.

In 1971, the duo set up their own record label, Philadelphia International Records, and went on to create ‘The Sound of Philadelphia’ with classic hits such as The Supremes’ ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’, ‘Only The Strong Survive’ by Jerry Butler, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, Billy Paul’s ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’, and ‘Love Train’ by The O’Jays.

Gamble and Huff were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1995.

This video charts the history of Gamble & Huff and The Sound of Philadelphia:

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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.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).


Hal David, one of the greatest lyricists of all time, always believed it was essential for writers to stay as objective as possible about their lyrics. He stressed the importance of being able to step outside of yourself and hear the song from the listener’s point of view.

“One thing a lyricist must learn is not to fall in love with his own lines,” David once remarked. “Once you learn that, you can walk away from the lyric and look at it with a reasonable degree of objectivity.”

A common mistake among many new lyricists is their failure to take a step back and recognize when they are using over-elaborate imagery and ‘poetic’ lyrics that just don’t work with the song. Far from being impressed with how clever and creative the lyricist is, music publishers and A&R executives are more likely to see unnecessarily flowery language as a sign of inexperience.

Trying too hard to be ‘different’ and artistic can often result in lyrics that simply sound pretentious and self-indulgent. If your lyrics don’t come across as genuine, listeners may find it hard to connect with your song.

And some lyricists may not realize that they are in danger of boring listeners by simply pouring out fact after fact as they tell the song’s story. You have to paint a picture in the listener’s imagination so that you can reach him or her on an emotional level and stimulate a response.

To make it easier for listeners to remember your lyrics, it’s important to keep them simple and conversational. Hal David was a master at conveying what he wanted to say in the most concise way possible, despite the complexity of some of Burt Bacharach’s melodies.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Bacharach and David wrote some of the most enduring pop songs of all time. Their classic hits included ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’, ‘This Guy’s in Love with You’, ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’, ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose’, ‘Walk On By’, ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love’, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’, ‘The Look of Love’, and ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, amongst many others.

“In writing, I search for believability, simplicity and emotional impact,” Hal David once explained. “Simplicity is often the hardest thing to achieve.”

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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.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK) or HERE (Australia).


Bernie_Elton_By_Bill_Claxtonsm-294x250Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman Jimmy Webb has announced that Elton John and Bernie Taupin will be the 2013 recipients of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at this year’s awards ceremony in New York on June 13.

John and Taupin have been one of the most prolific and successful songwriting partnerships of all time. Their award-winning relationship has spanned more than four decades and they have collaborated on more than 30 albums since they first met in 1967.

“Some catalogues are more significant than others not only because of their pertinence to the times in which they were written, but because their sheer mass is overpowering,” said Jimmy Webb. “It’s just not that easy to write 40 top 10 records. It’s kind of like swimming the English Channel with your hands tied behind your back.”

He added: “Elton’s readily identifiable melodic piano style has proven to be a perfect accompaniment to Bernie’s razor sharp lyrics about relationships and living on the edge of life both in good and bad times.”

The Johnny Mercer Award is the highest honour bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It is exclusively reserved for songwriters or songwriting teams who have already been inducted in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer.

Past Johnny Mercer Award recipients have included songwriting giants: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Phil Collins, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Anka, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.

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How (Not) To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success’ is now available from Amazon’s Kindle Store for only US$7.22 or GB£4.78.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) and HERE (UK).

Also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music).