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Songs About Writing

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published November 9th 2021
Because singing about writing is a good thing
Well, for those of us of a particular literary and masochistic bent, it is National Novel Writing Month which is actually International, but… Americans. As such I have been hard at work on my latest novel.

But I have been asked by a few people I know doing NaNoWriMo (as they so weirdly call it) for some motivational songs. And, as usual, that got me thinking.

So… songs about writing!
write, writing, song, music
My writing area…

So, I decided to include all sorts of writing in this list, which resulted in one huge list. So, to cut it down, I further made it that the word "write" or any of its variants had to be in the title. That worked so much better.

And, with that in mind, and as a soundtrack to the writing so many of my online companions are currently doing, here us that list of songs about writing. I know, not much of a pre-amble, but considering so many of us are actually writing, this is for listening. Normal rules apply – one song per artist, I need to like the song, and all of these are from my own personal collection of music.

Hope you enjoy!

'Paperback Writer' by The Beatles (1966)

Probably the most relatable song ever written about people who want to be professional authors. A writer is trying to convince a publisher to put out their book. More than that, it is a great rock song, with some brilliant guitar work and some really strong lyrics. Nothing else encapsulates the struggles of a writer better than this. It is a true classic song.

'Doesn't Anybody Write Old Love Songs Anymore?' by Wally Morrison (1975)

A sweet song lamenting the fact that the way songs used to be written has fallen out of fashion. It might sound a little twee, but I like the jazz stylings of this track, with the big band music behind the piano-playing. It is just a great song with a message that still applies even today.

'I Write The Songs' by Barry Manilow (1975)

Curious fact – for a song called 'I Write The Songs', the noted songwriter Manilow who made this popular didn't write this song (that would be Bruce Johnston, latterly of The Beach Boys). While it is often seen as a piece of self-aggrandisement, the actual lyrics are spoken from the point of view of the concept of music as a universal force. Very deep, but still one of Manilow's best ever songs.

'Write On' by The Hollies (1976)

A song about writing even if no one is reading what you are writing, or singing the songs you are writing. It is a song of perseverance, with a rather good guitar solo growing out of it. This is the sort of mantra that many beginning writers tell themselves and – guess what? – it's true.

'Lady Writer' by Dire Straits (1979)

Not just any lady writer, but a "lady writer on the TV"! It's about a time Knopfler saw a woman on a TV show that reminded him of a girlfriend. That woman, by the way, was Marina Warner and her book was about the cult of worship of the Virgin Mary. Still, it is a great song, a little poppier than many of Dire Straits' better-known tracks, but one I personally really like.

'The Writer' by UFO (1982)

About a newspaper writer more than anything else, spreading scandal and gossip, told from the point of view of said writer, this rock track (with ubiquitous saxophone solo) is an under-rated song from an under-rated band. Mechanix is such a good album.

'Everyday I Write The Book' by Elvis Costello And The Attractions (1983)

This is an interesting song, using the metaphor of writing a book as one for living a life. Each chapter is a different part of life, a relationship, whatever. And it actually works quite well. Of course, the lyrics are wonderful and the music is just great, and this is a song that has become forgotten by modern audiences.

'Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?' by Stevie Nicks (1985)

A beautiful piano ballad here from the Rock A Little album, basically saying the best gift she can give to a lover is writing something for them. Many a writer – especially poets – have found that a well-crafted written piece, something personal, can often do more to melt another's heart than any material gifts. And this is such a wonderful track.

'I Write Sins, Not Tragedies' by Panic! At The Disco (2006)

The title of the song does not appear anywhere in the lyrics (that could be another column…) as the song is about a groom hearing his bride has been sleeping around, while at the wedding. While the phrase does come from a book by Douglas Copeland that I have not read, the idea behind the song that this is only a tragedy of looked at in a certain way is a conceit many writers use.

'Writer In The Dark' by Lorde (2017)

Lorde's first two albums were some of the best pop albums released at the time, and this track from Melodrama is all piano and voice, telling the tale of a writer putting their ex into a song. So many writers do that – put people they know into their creations because you can get away with things in written form if you change names and call it 'fiction' that you can't in real life.

And there you are, ten songs to act as a soundtrack to your writing endeavours, especially for those of us slogging through NaNoWriMo. There were a few others I could have included, I know, but I have two more lists along similar lines following this one, so I needed some to spare for them.

I hope you enjoyed this literary jaunt!

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