On Songwriting: Why Rewrite Finished Songs

Great lyrics and a bad melody. I once sent this combination to my publisher. They sent it right back to me and basically said, “Don’t waste good lyrics on a bad melody.” It hurt my feelings, but then I realized they were right. I scrapped the entire melody and rewrote it, improving the song immensely.

You can do this, too. A song doesn’t need to be finished just because you think you finished it. I even think songs you’ve officially released can still be reworked (presuming they’re not hits!).

Pull an old song out, take the best pieces of it, and make a new song. Go through songs you’ve written and see if they can be improved upon by a better lyric or melody. 

Starting from scratch has its merits, but so does rewriting songs that aren’t having an impact on anyone. 

Guess what happened after Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin decided to rewrite (multiple times) “The House that Built Me”? It won CMA’s Song of the Year and spent four weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. 

You can listen to him talk about it in this video: