Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.

Lemony Snicket

 

 

 

 

We lose ourselves in books, but we find ourselves there too.

Anonymous

Essentials

It’s said that to know more about any given field than 95% of people, all you have to do is read three books. Here are the four we recommend every songwriter owns.

Click the images to check these titles out on Amazon.com.

 

Clement Wood: The Complete Rhyming Dictionary

(Dell, 1991)

A rhyming dictionary is an essential tool for any songwriter. A good one can help pull you out of any lyrical holes and keep your vocabulary fresh, and Clement Wood’s is the gold standard. Its entries are listed in single line columns making it easy to scan down the list for the perfect word. The dictionary itself is also prefaced with The Poet’s Craft Book, a useful and old-school introduction to the craft of form, rhythm and rhyme.

 

William Strunk, Jr. & E. B. White: The Elements of Style

(Longman, 1999)

For over fifty years Strunk and White’s Elements of Style has been raising standards in style and written expression the world over. Get your copy and let its wisdom help give your writing the impact, clarity and panache it deserves. Better yet, get your copy and bury yourself within its pages at least twice a year for the rest of your life.

 

Paul Zollo: Songwriters On Songwriting

(DaCapo, 2003)

This is an important and unique book. More than ten years in the making and in its fourth edition, this hefty tome compiles the thoughts of sixty-three songwriters. Zollo uncovers the influences, working methods and experiences of the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Carlos Santana, Lou Reed, Lenny Kravitz. Unlike the latest season of Big Brother, there’s not a Z-list celebrity in sight. Best of all Zollo has a Jedi-like skill of helping his interviewees open up and his transcription style makes you feel like you’re there in the room with them. Recommended for the coffee table and the writing studio: his interviews are as entertaining as they are illuminating.

 

Ed Bell: The Art of Songwriting

(The Song Foundry, 2017)

OK, we know. This is our book. But Ed wouldn’t have written it if we didn’t think it would be one of the best songwriting books out there. The Art of Songwriting is your one-stop guide to all the skills you’ll need to be a great writer: not just the craft skills that go in to making structure, rhyme and melody work, but all the real-life skills that help you create something exciting and distinctive. Brought to you in Ed’s distinctive and down-to-earth style, The Art of Songwriting will equip you with the knowledge you need to be successful as a writer, challenge you to think for yourself and empower you to follow your own creative path.

The Art of Songwriting is available in paperback and as an eBook direct from our site.