For songwriters, the perennial pillar is song craft. It is not technical mastery.
A songwriter knows that technical agility at an instrument is not going help him create a better song. It’s easier to identify and work at improving techniques. It’s much harder to improve on their ability to engage with listeners through their songs.
At the time of this writing, in 2017, we commemorate three critically acclaimed albums.
If there are any three records you’d need to hear in your lifetime, it’s these.
Half a century ago, The Beatles released Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. 30 years ago, U2 brought us the follow-up album from The Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree. And 20 year ago, Radiohead released Ok Computer. Modern music has never been the same since.
Sgt Pepper would never have had the chance to grow if the Beatles did not take the time away from touring.
The Irish boys from U2 narrowed the focus based on the American landscape in the making of Joshua Tree. Because they made that decision, the album reflected their evolving social consciousness of their time. The album become a timeless piece of art.
Radiohead’s Ok Computer, was spawned from the band’s disillusionment with a relentless touring schedule, resulting in their lives becoming a tour-bus race at the speed of light from one concert venue to the next. They had enough. A break was needed.
(As an aside: It is significant to note that none of these records were the artists’ first albums.)
Consider three lessons we can draw from these landmark albums:
1. Take the Risk and Push Your Limits,
2. Get a Guide, and
3. Study the Process, Not the Outcome.