Songwriters on Songwriting

I wrote my first song when I was 14 years old. Over the years, I've composed hundreds of songs. It was that interest — music — that led me to take a year off from pursuing a doctorate and led me down the circuitous path that has been the rest of my life.

I don't write songs nowadays, more focused on screenplays and writing about writing. But I can't help but think at least some of who I am as a writer derives from all that time studying and composing songs.

Which is why I say that one of my favorite 'screenwriting' books is "Songwriters on Songwriting," a collection of interviews by Paul Zollo with some of the great songwriters of our time, from Mose Allison to Frank Zappa. For what are songs but stories?

Bob Dylan handwritten lyrics for "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Here are some posts I've done over the years featuring interview excerpts from notable songwriters and my thoughts on what each offers as potential takeaway from screenwriters and fiction writers.

Mose Allison

Fiona Apple

Joan Baez

Jackson Browne

David Byrne

Leonard Cohen

Willie Dixon


Bob Dylan

PJ Harvey

Bruce Hornsby

Janis Ian

Van Dyke Parks

Tom Petty

Pete Seeger

Paul Simon

Suzanne Vega

Jimmy Webb

Brian Wilson

If you've found any interviews with songwriters you think would be worth discussing, please post a link in comments. I know at some point, I'll revisit the subject. So much of songwriting is about structure… just like screenwriting.

Songwriters on Songwriting was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

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