Lizzie Wilson – Behind the Scenes
When Annette asked me to write about my experiences of songwriting, I was unsure where to start. For me the process of writing a song is always different and that’s one of the reasons why I love it.
The first time I picked up my guitar and tried (and epically failed) to write a song was when I was 14. I thought it would come easily as I sang and played guitar, for me I believed it was a natural progression. Needless to say it was frustrating, I had a serious case of writers block and resided to the fact that I’d never write a song.
The truth was at 14, I had nothing to say, I hadn’t experienced life yet. It wasn’t until I was 18 and just started university that I successfully wrote my first song, ‘Hold On’. It was the first time I felt like I had something to say. I tend to draw my writing material from either personal experiences or from what my friends are going through, as I believe real life situations are more relatable. There are a few of my songs that stand out as being extremely personal, which I will delve into the writing process behind them.
‘The Way You Lie’:
This song came about a few short weeks after my 21st birthday, when my ‘best friend’ of 20 years completely forgot about my birthday… I wasn’t bitter at all!
I came up with the hooks whilst sitting on the Eurostar to Disneyland Paris as I vented away to my parents about the situation and threw out the line ‘you know it ain’t pretty when you lie’ which turned into ‘darling it ain’t pretty, the way that you lie’. I instantly knew I had to write a song about this and it just so happened that I had a co write booked with Alex Jordan.
Going into the writing session, I explained the back-story to Alex and we both agreed it was a good angle to work. I was then experimenting with different chord progressions when I came up with the main chord progression and we both found the melody from there. The majority of the lyrics came from re-arranging my rants, such as ‘I wish she would just get off her high horse’ which turned into ‘I see you throwing stones up on your high horse’.
‘Living Out Loud’:
This is a song that I hold dear to my heart. It was a song I’d been waiting a long time to write. I wrote this on my very first day in Nashville with the incredibly talented singer/songwriter Payton Taylor. I knew Payton was the perfect co writer for this song because we’re a similar age, and she’d been in my shoes, a young girl arriving in Nashville with three things: a guitar, a passion and a dream.
On the plane over I was looking out the window, pinching myself that I was actually going, and wrote down a few words about how I was feeling and about taking chances and not being afraid to stumble and fall. I took these thoughts and the basic idea of the direction I wanted the song to take to the writing session. Payton set up a drum track, something I’d never written to before, and started playing a few chords and we started working on the lyrics. My favourite lyrics we came up with were for the bridge, ‘Paint my life with the bluest skies, I’ll shine through the dark like city lights’. This song also means a lot to me because the kind people at the Grand Ole Opry let me sing the chorus, in the famous circle, to the empty auditorium. It’s a moment I will never forget, I really was ‘Living Out Loud’!
‘Who I’ve Always Been’:
Looking back 2014 was a really rough year for me, I felt like my world was falling apart and I had no control over it. Tough times however are song writing gold dust but it has taken me a while to be comfortable about reflecting on that period of time. I’ve wanted to write a song about it for a while now and finally figured out the approach I wanted to take. I knew I wanted to write about finding strength in my family and faith and how sometimes you have to ‘get lost to be found’. This song is still a work in progress but I thought I’d link below my initial ideas and when I finish the song you’ll be able to see where it started and how it has developed.
I believe that songwriting is a craft that can be nurtured and developed, and that I’m right at the start of my songwriting journey and have a lot still to learn, to experience and to ultimately write about.