Songwriter’s Corner: 16 Influential Quotes About the Art of Songwriting

Hey good people! My name is Alon, I'm 27 and I play mainly the guitar, piano, and harmonica. In the last few years, I traveled through four different continents with my guitar while performing and teaching music. Currently, I am based in sunny Tel Aviv, Israel. The GuitarHippies mission: To get you to enjoy your musical journeys to the fullest. Cheers!

If you have read my article about why you should start writing your own songs or the best beginners tools to do it, (links at the bottom of the page) you probably have some of your own insights on the process of songwriting – where your thoughts come on in on one side and a full song comes out on the other side.

I have gathered a bunch of quotes about songwriting and the process of songwriting so we can have a look on some insights from people who have already “done it” and perhaps soak some inspiration and tips for ourselves from in between those lines. Enjoy!

Please share more quotations that you like about songwriting in the comments if you have any.

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16 Influential Quotes About The Art Of Songwriting

“Imagination is the key to my lyrics. The rest is painted with a little science fiction.”

Jimi Hendrix

Makes sense when you think about some of the stuff that Jimi played like “Hey Joe” and “Little Wing“…


“I never sit down to write. When I’m moved, I do it. I just wait for it to come. You just hear it. I can’t really describe writing. It’s in my head. I don’t think about the styles. I write whatever comes out and I use whatever kind of instrumentation that works for those songs.”

Lenny Kravitz

“As a songwriter, Gram (Parsons) worked very much like I do, which is to knock out a couple of chords, start to spiel and see how far it can go, rather than sitting around with a piece of paper and a pen, trying to make things fit neatly together. But he would also work very hard harder than I ever did — on honing it down.”

Keith Richards

“You wind up creating from silence, like painting a picture on a blank canvas that could bring tears to somebody’s eyes. As songwriters, our blank canvas is silence.”

Rodney Atkins


“I have a structured songwriting process. I start with the music and try to come up with musical ideas, then the melody, then the hook, and the lyrics come last. Some people start with the lyrics first because they know what they want to talk about and they just write a whole bunch of lyrical ideas, but for me the music tells me what to talk about.”

John Legend

piano yamaha

Sitting down on the piano instead of the guitar might be a good way to let some creative ideas flow.

“For a songwriter, you don’t really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes. And you try to understand them and take them apart and see what they’re made of, and wonder if you can make one, too.”

Tom Waits

“Each song has its own secret that’s different from another song, and each has its own life. Sometimes it has to be teased out, whereas other times it might come fast. There are no laws about songwriting or producing.”

Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits

“I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is”

Leonard Cohen

“I got this cheap little empty plastic notebook at my local drugstore, and bought a little slab of filler paper and the very first title I wrote in it was ‘Proud Mary‘. I had no idea what that title meant. I work hard at that, but the fact that there are a lot of good songs means there are also a lot of really bad songs I’ve written that you’d never hear.”

John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival

A solid knowledge in music theory would be musically one of the best things you can add to your songwriting skills. Click the promo to learn more

A solid knowledge in music theory would be musically one of the best things you can add to your songwriting skills. Click the promo to learn more

“I think songwriting is the ultimate form of being able to make anything that happens in your life productive.”

Taylor Swift

“Songwriting is an art unto itself, not to be confused with performing.”

Jo Stafford

“I always found very strong images for my songwriting in New York.”

Neneh Cherry

Like Neneh Cherry and probably most other people, I also have different places that spark up my muse. For me it's mostly about beautiful nature spots like this one here - Lake Albert, New Zealand

Like Neneh Cherry and probably most other writers, I also have different places that spark up my muse. For me it’s mostly about beautiful nature spots like this one here – Lake Albert, New Zealand where I wrote the song that I consider my best one so far.

“My songwriting and my style became more complex as I listened, learned, borrowed, stole and put my music together.”

Boz Scaggs of The Steve Miller Band

“If you like someone’s work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to.”

Bob Dylan

“It’s therapy. It’s fun. It’s creative. I love getting on a big writing binge and staying up a couple days working on song and knowing at the end of those two or three days that I’ve created something that was never in the world before.”

Dolly Parton

A new chord book will soon be born out of these fresh printed chord sheets.

Playin’ around with the capo has also got some cool stuff out of me in some occasions.

“I hope that what it comes down to at the end of the day is that people believe that I believe what I’m singing. It comes down to being believable.”

John Mayer

Great, and now that we’re wiser, let’s go work on our next song.

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Peace and have fun!

Who’s your fave songwriter? You can comment below and let us know. 

You are also welcome to check out these other 2 articles about songwriting to get some more inspiration.

The Top 6 Tools For The Beginner Songwriter

The Top 6 Tools For The Beginner Songwriter


write songs of your own

Learn about a few big pluses of engaging in some songwriting, if you’re still not into it.

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4 comments for “Songwriter’s Corner: 16 Influential Quotes About the Art of Songwriting

  1. Justin
    April 1, 2017 at 3:23 AM

    I Have the songs come to me usually in dreams . With the words and music . And I grab my guitar and play it the way I heard the song .

    • Alon
      April 6, 2017 at 8:07 AM

      That’s cool Justin, I don’t think I have ever heard of something like that where you remember the whole thing when you wake up.

  2. Scott P
    August 21, 2016 at 4:50 AM

    “I do not entertain doubt or fear in my music.”
    -Ryan Adams

    • Alon
      August 23, 2016 at 3:08 PM

      Nice one Scott, thanks.

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