I try to do my best when I write a song. When I feel it’s as good as I can make it, knowing what I know as a songwriter at that time, then it’s ‘done’
In a way, my focus is on the next song or songs – maybe to a fault. I’ve never spent much time rewriting older songs – once it’s done, it’s done. It seems more important to me to keep writing, to move forward to the next song, to get better as a writer that way, than to try to improve something I wrote a few years ago which is, writing-wise, kind of like ancient history to me, even though I may still be performing it.
But lately I’ve gone back to some of my less recent songs, mostly because I’m interested in playing them again. Some seem fine as they are. With others, I find myself eagerly rewriting a line here and there; sometimes a whole Verse. Or rephrasing a melody, trying a different harmony. And I do think the songs are the better for it.
I think this is happening because I’ve become, if not a better writer (though I hope that’s true), certainly a more experienced one. Sometimes I now know how to fix, or at least improve, things in a song that always bugged me but I didn’t have the chops to fix or improve.
Also, when I write a song, I’ve got my nose deep in it so there’s a question of perspective – I may have been so close to it that I missed certain problems that I can now identify.
It’s a bit of a paradox – my rush forward to write more songs, to gain experience, to get better has perhaps left holes in some of my past songs (or maybe the holes are there simply because I didn’t know how to plug them at the time…?). But that rush forward to write more songs has also given me the experience to improve things that I thought were settled (but don’t have to be).
When it comes to writing, my preference is to not look back. The next song might be the best one yet! But I’m starting to see the benefit in revisiting some of my old friends.
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