Singer/songwriter, Ryan Adams, returned to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time since his debut in 2013, offering a unique songwriting masterclass for young musicians. The artist has released over 15 studio albums since his debut studio release, ‘Heartbreaker’, in 2000, produced music admired by Willie Nelson and Fall Out Boy and published two collections of poetry and short stories. Alongside his extensive schedule, Adams continues to write every day.
According to Jasper Morvarid (2017), there were ten major things to learn from the prolific songwriter, including:
1. Always carry a notepad and pen so you can write down overheard conversations, colours and things you see. ANY situation can be inspiring.
2. Choose what you want a song to do, before you write it.
3. Look at the subject from different points of view and several points in time. Time isn’t linear – you could maybe start at the end and work backwards.
4. The longer you sit around playing, the better the chances are that you find something that works.
5. A thesaurus should always be key to a songwriter’s process. Turn to any page and find a word that resonates or inspires you.
6. It’s crucial to disconnect and reconnect to help awaken something deeper inside when writing.
7. If stuck, turn yourself into the character you’re writing about to alleviate your frustrations. You might even end up somewhere totally unexpected.
8. Riff optimism: don’t entertain fear or doubt. When you are writing, nobody is listening or judging you.
9. Take existing songs that challenge you and reconstruct them as yours. Finding your own path through emulation will help you learn from the greats by doing things on your terms.
10. Go where your heart wants to go. Whether you’re working on a political or a spiritual battle cry, songwriting is always a personal journey.
“More than you’ll ever know, it’s recreation, it’s craft, it’s ritual. When I turn that faucet on, the water comes out. It’s like the flow of life,” was Adam’s reaction when he was asked about his take on songwriting. He went on saying that he never sets out to write a hit and feels like writing a song only to make millions is a crime against music.