How To Write a Song That Matters

Hachette. Sept. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9780306923296. pap. $19.99. MUSIC
Songwriter Williams (What I Found in a Thousand Towns) explores many facets of her craft in this elegant and practical title, using personal reflections over several decades of touring to support her guidance. Williams recommends seeking inspiration in a host of situations ranging from everyday routines to beauty in nature to assist in choosing lyrics and melodies. She outlines the value of song circles and retreats, presents the nuts and bolts of open mic situations and how to deal with audience responses in a variety of settings, and emphasizes the importance of being honest with oneself as each song is developed. Charming metaphors such as musical chords as housemates (complete with quaint drawings) are sprinkled throughout to good effect.
VERDICT In contrast to the many useful guides to song creation that focus dryly on method, Williams’s book stands apart for its shimmering, poetic language and forthright engagement of readers, making her treatment of the subject that much more emotionally satisfying. By the end, readers will have gained valuable lessons about both songwriting and life.
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