Songwriting – How Much Do Our Influences Infiltrate Or Songs????

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For songwriters, there is always the internal pressure to come up with something “new” and “original”. There is almost always that voice in your head while writing that will say “Oh, that sounds too much like that other song”. And in the cases when you think you’re in the clear because you can’t think if anything that resembles what you wrote.

I know I have a lot of influences that shape the “Mike Alexander” sound. When I was a younger songwriter, I was very conscious of that, and if I realized there were similarities to another song, I would change things so that the similarities got squeezed out of a song if possible.

But I think I’m at a place where I’ve come to embrace those influences.

As a young teen, before AC/DC whacked the sense out of me and turned me onto harder edged rock, I was a HUGE ELO fan. I played “A New World Record” and Out Of The Blue” to death! For the longest time, from my middle teens to probably my middle thirties, I kind of hid my extreme affection for ELO because it kind of wasn’t the cool thing for a while. I got over that thank God!!!! It helped that Supertramp was also a favorite, and never got the same treatment / scorn of being syrupy pop, and I was able to bundle to two up into one compartment of music to admire. My love for Supertramp was always open for the world to see, but I kept my love for ELO private. By the time I turned 40, “Mr. Blue Sky” was in half the commercials on TV, so it was safe to come out of the ELO closet!

You can try and put away some ancient influence from your youth, but they have a way of sneaking out. Now that I’m arranging a lot of my songs to prep for the solo project, I’m seeing Jeff Lynne’s influence on my writing all over the place. It’s not surprising though. The very first song I ever wrote, a thing called “Insanity” is now in my set list. I know I was listening to OOTB when I wrote it, and there are some smidgens of “Big Wheels” in the song. I didn’t realized they had seeped into the structure of the song at the time because I couldn’t play it, but now that I can, I can definitely hear the echo there. For a while I never thought that much of the thing. I thought it was too simple. It was my first song and I didn’t have a clue how to write a song. Now that I’m performing it though…. I’m really digging the simple yet primal drive that the song evokes.

I’ve fallen in love with my own song!

I guess I’ll have to vid it and put it on YouTube tomorrow.

PS. It will probably be the first song on my debut solo album that comes out early next year.

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