Cliff Goldmacher wrote his first song 25 years ago and, of course, it was for a girl. Now he has over 1,000 song children and has collaborated with multi-platinum selling and Grammy winning artists. In this podcast, he shares his great thoughts on writing, collaborating, and the music industry.
- Cliff Goldmacher wrote his first song 25 years ago and, of course, it was for a girl. Now he has over a thousand songs under his belt, has worked as a staff songwriter for a major Nashville publisher, and his songwriting collaborators include multi-platinum selling and Grammy winning artists Ke$ha, Keb’ Mo’, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Lisa Loeb, and Chris Barron (Lead singer of the Spin Doctors). He currently has recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA.
- Cliff compares his songwriting collaborations to blind dating: He has about 3 to 4 hours with a new artist to write a song with them. It’s all about listening. They will talk about themselves, so pay attention. Then help them carve that into a song that is captivating to you, important to them, and relatable to their audience.
- Over years of collaborating, his melodies are like his singing voice: just… fine. Cliff think of melodies as a serving suggestion. Pay attention to the phrasing and the lyrics but make the melody your own to fit your voice.
- Cliff’s favorite “I wish I’d written that song” is I get a kick out of you by Cole Porter. He says it’s smart, funny, quick-witted, and the lyrics have multiple layers of meaning at all times. His favorite songwriters? Cole Porter and Gershwin for consistency. James Taylor. Hayes Carll (look him up).
- On learning to write songs in Nashville, Cliff says lyric is king. Country music doesn’t work without strong lyrics so keep them as the top priority at all times. (Cliff doesn’t just live in Country music. He will often turn to Jazz in order to reset his brain.)
- The life of an artist takes a real mission to take a pounding day after day. Getting back up each time took a toll on Cliff as a performer so he evolved his art into helping others write and record their songs.
- Formula to writing a good song: First write 500 songs. Then you’ll get better. (He said this tongue-in-cheek, but you get the idea. Get the bad ideas out and the creative muscle as strong as a mule so that you can consistently create great songs.)
- Cliff says that, often, early songwriters think that their opinion is more valuable than their collaborator’s. As a collaborator, when he stepped out of the way and simply listened, some of the best work happened.
- Cliff says we are being too protective of our ‘song children.’ The act of writing song after song helps you be less protective and kick them out the door.
- A trend that Cliff has noticed is that early songwriters tend to overwrite. A song might have 3 or 4 verses when maybe it could have had 2. Your structure doesn’t have to replicate what is on pop radio. Make your own. And make sure the lyric is constantly moving forward in the story. On the same page, your music intro to the song could probably be shortened. You only have a few seconds to capture our attention, don’t waste it with the intro.
- Streaming music is now the new reality. People going out and buying singles is no different from the 50s when they bought a 45. It’s just reinventing itself. So find a way to make it work for you.
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Thank you so much for tuning in to my conversation with Cliff Goldmacher of EducatedSongwriter.com!
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Thanks again for joining and special thanks to Cliff!