Storytime: Songwriting Books


A couple years ago I purchased and read a book called Tunesmith by Jimmy Webb. After going back to this book recently, I can honestly say that every songwriter should read this book. Even if only for the first chapter. Webb is an inductee in The National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters Hall of Fame. His biography says the following:

Jimmy Webb has given the American songbook more hits, in more styles, than any other songwriter of his generation. The wunderkind of pop music, Webb became the hottest songwriter around when, starting at age twenty-one, he wrote a string of hits including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston,” “Up, Up and Away,” and “MacArthur Park.”

Here are a couple quotes from the back cover of the book:

Tunesmith [is] an eminently readable master class in songwriting-one that will thrill aspiring composers and lyricists, yet still interest the general reader.” – Michael Eck, Albany Times Union
Tunesmith may be the most interesting book ever written on songwriting… The sections on writing lyrics are riveting… It’s for anyone who enjoys words.” – David Hinckley, New York Daily News

Chapter titles:

Out of Thin Air
In This Room You’ll Never Make a Mistake
It’s Only Words
Elements of Form
It Can’t Get No Verse…
Give Us a Tune Then, Jim
In Search of the Lost Chord
You and the Words and the Music
At Odds and Ends
Getting to First Base
Living With It

If anyone knows of any other useful books on Songwriting, please include the title and author(s) in a comment and I’ll post the list in this thread or on the sidebar.


Songwriting/Recording Book Listing –

  • Webb, Jimmy. Tunesmith. New York, NY: Hyperion, 1998
  • Swedien, Bruce. Make Mine Music. Norway: MIA Musikk, 2003
  • Blume, Jason. 6 Steps to Songwriting Success. New York, NY: Billboard Books, 2004
  • Thall, Peter, M. What They’ll Never Tell You About the Music Business. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2002