songwriting

The Story Behind Washed Away

  So I just wanted to take a moment to tell you the song of how Washed Away first originated. Around a year ago I woke up early in the morning around 4:30-5:00am. Usually my first instinct is a few seconds of frustration thinking "why I am up awake at this hour!", however this time was a little different. I woke up actually feeling quite refreshed, which for me is an incredibly rare circumstance. I thought this was a chance to get some work done, but in the end I decided to go back to sleep. While I was laying there, I began to think of song ideas and singing a melody in my head. Now I cannot tell where the phrase came from, but all of a sudden I remember thinking the phrase "Washed Away". Immediately I grabbed my iPad and began writing down some lyrics. I began thinking about my current situation which was waking up early and staying up because thoughts and ideas were keeping my mind awake. You can see that through the first two lines where it says, "early morning rising, all these thoughts in my head". Now that was the last lyric that came from what I felt at that early morning. I don't think it would have been as catchy if i said "early morning rising, all these thoughts in my head. Thinking about all the work I should have done yesterday but I procrastinated and now I am stressed." It doesn't quite have the hook that I was looking for. So I moved on to thinking what keeps people awake at night. I couldn't help but relate to the idea of regret. We all have moments where we regret our actions, words, thoughts, etc. Regret is something that can haunt us every night or when we have a moment to sit still and let our minds wander. But I see regret not as something in the past we want to change but rather something that we haven't given to God yet. When we regret our actions we hang onto them instead of letting God free us from that pain. I don't mean that you can just keep doing those wrong things over and over because they will go away. What I mean is that we can have a new start, so that we can live the way God intended us to live in the first place. This is where I left off that night. I got stuck and couldn't think of more lyrics so I left it off there. I began making the music piece then on my iPad so I wouldn't forget which I still have today!

Some time later when I came back to writing this song I moved onto the chorus. The chorus came from the idea of 2 Corinthians 5:17 that says 

  "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17

This verse amazes me. To think there is a God who loves me so much that he gives my broken, sinful self a chance to be made new and perfect. There is no greater message than of God's perfect love that came down to this world and paid the price of our sins. We now have the chance to be free, not just in this world but for eternity. This is the message of the chorus in Washed Away.

  "All my sins are washed away. Every day with you is a brand new day. The old has gone. The new has come. No stains on me are left undone."

  The rest of washed away came over a period of around 3 months. This song meant a lot to me, not because I believe its my best written song because it is not. Instead because the message is something I think everybody needs to hear and practically because it was the first one of my songs to be released publicly on iTunes! There are pieces of this song I would love to go back and fix. The song isn't perfect just like we aren't perfect, but the message in fact is perfect. So I hope you will join me in helping me share the message. 

 "All my sins are washed away. Every day with you is a brand new day. The old has gone. The new has come. No stains on me are left undone."

  

Songwriting Resources

So I just wanted to touch on a few resources I have been using and others I am exploring using when I am writing songs. I am currently apart of CMI Academy and it has introduced me to some new techniques as well as some new resources to use as well. 

1. Evernote (for iOS & Mac)

   I have been using Evernote for a while. I originally was using the standard Notes app but ideas got lost so quickly. Evernote allows you to create notebooks which is a very helpful feature. I have a songwriting notebook which allows me to isolate my songwriting from everything else. This app also updates when you last edited the note so songs you are currently working on are nearby. Evernote also has the ability to share notebooks so you can collaborate with friends, band members, etc. The last feature I love is the ability to record audio so if you are like me and forget the melodies of a song you wrote months or years before its nice to have. The audio does not sound very good but you hear enough to understand. This is a cloud based system and easily syncs between all of your devices. Evernote has won award after award because it is incredible. Maybe you decided not to use it for songwriting but even for an app for more organized note taking Evernote is king.


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2. RhymeZone (iOS & Web)

  One cool resource I was just introduced to was a website RhymeZone.com. There is also an iPhone app as well for $3. I will more likely be using the app, and the thing I like about it is that it gives you rhymes but it can do it not just on exact rhymes but similar rhymes. When writing the words don't always have to rhyme, but it helps make a song memorable with rhyming so this app helps to find those rhymes while staying true to the idea of the song. The app also allows you to add a secondary field of "meaning similar to". Allows it to narrow down even more a rhyme with a word that holds a particular meaning.




3. Songwriter's Pad (iOS)

  This app I used a few years ago and it was good but didn't quite cut it for me, but it has been updated and appears to fix the issues I had with the system. I like this app because it lays out songs very easily for you. It allows you to easily add sections of verse, chorus, bridge, etc. And when you decided you want to rearrange the song you can easily drag parts around so it reflects the roadmap without needing to cut and paste lyrics around on a word document. The biggest thing I like about this app is that it is designed to give inspire and spark ideas. Whenever you hit a road block just hit the ideas button and it brings you to a section where you can look through different words, phrases, rhymes, and a dictionary attached to different themes such as happy, sad, love, etc. Just gives you more opportunity to find new ideas and use new words or phrases you may not come up with on your own. This app also allows you to add chords to the song and has a presentation style so it can be used for live situations as well. However you can't go from song to song in the presentation style easily. This app is cloud based with 50 mb of free storage which is plenty for lyrics. However if you add audio which is also a feature of the app you may run out of space after some time. There is a paid version though of course. There is a Mac version but right now I only use the iOS version since the Mac version is a little pricey for the same features.

 

4. White Board

  Yes after all of these apps I decide to end it with a non-technical resource. Anytime you are doing songwriting getting a different perspective is one of the most valuable things you can have as a songwriter. I noticed when I first tried to use apps such as Evernote it took time to adjust because something was different about the connection between me and paper. Through time and just writing in the middle of nowhere I have adjusted to using these apps and technical pieces. However you can't step back 5-6 feet and get a far view of everything on these devices. That is why I am starting to use a white board to brainstorm ideas. I find myself constantly jumping from note to note with different ideas and never tie them together because I can't see them side by side. However with a white board I can put down different title's, phrases, etc. with the "North Star" method and see what my heart is truly aspiring to write a song about. Sometimes we think too much about what we want to write about instead of just taking what our hearts are saying right now and seeing what trends we find. Over the next few weeks I will be playing around with this new method and I hope to have some songs to show for it. Soon I will be going into the North Star method and what pro and cons I find with this method. So for now I am going to brainstorm with this white board and see what my heart wants to write about. I can't wait to see what comes of it.