I love listening to or reading about how artists create. Dar Williams is a phenomenal singer/songwriter. I’ve seen her live in small venues on a couple of occasions and she’s a lovely presence. In May 2020 she released “Something to Get Through” and the video includes signs from therapists. It’s a great song to breath to when panic starts to overwhelm.
How to Write a Song That Matters puts on the page Williams songwriting retreat. I’m sure that the retreat is more rewarding in person, but not everyone can take the time or spend the money. She walks through every step of the process from cultivating the mindset that allows the spark of an idea to form to performing a new song. Williams demystifies the craft. Tenacious D may have spontaneously played the best song in the world (now forgotten), but the rest of us will have to sit down and thinks about words and music.
Despite my many years of piano lessons, flute lessons, voices lessons, and all the musical theater productions I participated in, I am not a musician. Music is not where I find my joy. I’m not ever going to write a song. I still enjoyed this book and found myself thinking about how I can incorporate some of Williams’ lessons into my own writing.
I particularly appreciated that Williams emphasizes the value of creating while in community. She eschews the solo artistic genius and encourages song circles and open mike nights.
Finding a way to appreciate other people’s works did not dilute any standard of writing for me. Going in and figuring out how people communicated through diverse forms and messages helped me find compassion and respect for myself as a writer.
I received this as an advance reader copy from Hachette Books via NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.