Latest From Rory: In Service of the Song: The Listeners Art

August 29th, 2009

In Service of the Song: The Listeners Art

One Monday, some time ago, I was writing with a very good hit writer here in Nashville. It was my first time writing with him, and we had a great idea going. Suddenly, out of the blue, he unleashed a torrent of words that added up to a great verse. I said, “Hey man that was great. Do it again.” He looked at me and said, “I can’t. I don’t remember what I said.”

We tried and tried to replicate the lines but never got back to it. It was clear to me that I wasn’t Listening to what he said…and now we both were going to pay. I decided then and there if I was going to be in the Service of the Song, I needed to start listening to my co-writer and stop listening just the rattling of my own mind.

Since then I have caught many co-writers great lines that they were throwing away. It has served me well. I’ve even gotten co-writers, in some cases, to pay more attention to what comes out of their mouths.

A few years back I taught a writing class at ASCAP. We met for one year, and we all became better writers. I noticed that with one of my students seemed to talk in Titles. Fairly sure that no one else was picking up on that I sent her out of the room and told the class my suspicion. I asked them to write down every time they heard her say what they thought was a title. At the end of the night, they all had pages full.

What this all adds up to is this: to be in the Service of the Song we writers must be practitioners of the Listener’s Art.

Let me know what you think.


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