How to Hunt Down a Great Song

I have a song called “I Love You” that sums up both extremes of this ultimate hunt in one go. The chorus is a memorable melody, which was my own personal love song that I would sing quietly to the Lord as I went about my day. After a couple of years, I used it during a worship time when I was leading one day at church. People really liked it and I realized I had the beginnings of a song. It sounds silly, but up until then I had never even thought of it as a song; it was just a little tune that I knew my heavenly Father really enjoyed hearing. The chorus came almost by accident; the verses, on the other hand, were hard work.

I like to use verses to give context to the chorus, so with this song I wanted verses that really opened up the question of “why.” Why do I love Him? This was a hunt that would take me hours upon hours of searching and exploring. I remember we were in America at the time and I had a few days one weekend that were completely free so I locked myself in my room and decided to chase that thing down. I can’t remember how many times I had to rewrite the melody, the lyrics, the rhythms, everything! I came up with versions that I loved, but I would take it to some other trusted “song-hunters” and they would inform me that what I had was “sign”; it was good sign, which meant I was getting really close, but still, it was “sign.” It was one of those experiences where I felt like I had the thing in my hands but I still had to wrestle with it all the way to the ground. But eventually, I had the prize I was looking for! 

Everyone starts their songwriting hunt differently. Some hear a line in a sermon that stands out, others hear a melody in their mind that kicks them off. The initial line, thought, theme or tune can come in so many different ways. One of the “signs” I get first in the songwriting process is the melody, sometimes with lyrics, other times without. Often I’ll get a chorus or part of a chorus, which I have to put lyrics to. But whatever kicks the process off, the one area that remains a definite hunt is the lyric content. I am always on the hunt to communicate what is in my heart in an accurate and true way.

I have two questions I ask myself that help me in this area. The first is, “Is this something I really want to say?” It’s important that we write songs that are personally true to ourselves and to our relationship with the Father. In other words, I can really mean what I am singing. It doesn’t just sound good, but it has a depth of meaning in my heart too. 

The second question I ask when others will be singing my song is, “Is this something I want others to be saying?” We as songwriters have a unique position where we get to put words into the mouths of others. This is a huge responsibility. A quote attributed to Plato the philosopher says, “Give me the songs of a generation and I’ll change the way that generation thinks.”

Songs have the ability to transform cultures and change the way people think. I believe that songs will pave the way for the church to move in the fullness of His love and power on the earth today! 

Happy hunting!   

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joshklinkenberg@churchleaders.com'
Starting in the small town of Te Aroha, Josh and Amberley's ministry began in a little baptist church with an acoustic guitar and a gathering of hungry hearts. They met in bible college and spent the first seven years of their married life in the small town called "The Love"‚Äč (Te Aroha) where the Lord taught them about ministering to Him and leading others in worship.