The many unpredictable steps that help a song succeed

Published 08/7/2019

By Patricia Conroy

It isn’t just a great song.

It’s getting that song to the perfect artist, who it was meant to be with.

Then there’s the magic that happens, once in awhile, in that studio, on that Friday afternoon, with a bunch of wonderful, inspired musicians who instantly “get” the song, and how it should sound.

And a producer who knew that would happen when he chose the players.

And the engineer is terrific, and the song sounds just like it should.

Then, by some stroke of luck, it’s the next single, and it gets played on a few radio stations.

And it gets heard by someone driving away from home for good… or someone about to walk into a motel room to meet someone they shouldn’t… or a single mom with nothing left to hold onto but this song.

And it gets to each of them in a different, strange, and powerful way, and next thing you know, it’s catching fire and climbing the charts.

And it becomes a hit.

Then you pick up your guitar and write another song.

Songwriting is a passion, and these days I’m all about creating something with soul.

But some days, the magic just isn’t there, and you can’t just manufacture magic.

Perhaps the key is consistently going to the well.

Listen to music that nurtures your passion.

Ideas can start from anything: A melody, a phrase, a movie, a billboard, a sticker on the pick-up truck in front of you at a red light…

Search for stories. Make one up. Keep looking and listening.

Ralph Murphy told me a story once about Harlan Howard. How almost daily, around happy hour, he’d sit at a local bar and just listen to people’s conversation. That’s where he got a lot of his great song ideas… from real life, real people.

It isn’t just a great song, but  that’s the best place to start. Good Luck, and have fun!

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About Patricia Conroy

A member of SOCAN's Board of Directors, Patricia Conroy is a multiple Canadian Country Music Award winner who's devoted her life to music, and continues to nurture Canada’s brightest new talent. Throughout her musical career, songwriting has been an integral a part of Patricia's success. From her debut album Blue Angel, where she wrote many of the songs, it became apparent that songwriting was in her blood. Patricia writes and records songs with many of Canada's brightest country stars. She’s worked with Meghan Patrick, Leaving Thomas, Rivertown Saints, Michelle Wright, Jimmy Rankin, Emerson Drive, Bobby Wills, Chad Brownlee, Kansas Stone, Small Town Pistols, Jessica Mitchell, Aaron Pritchett, Beverley Mahood, Leah Daniels, and Tebey. Patricia resides in Nashville, and writes for Slaight Music Publishing in Canada. You can find her taking part in numerous industry panels, discussing the art and craft of songwriting.

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