• How to Write One Song

  • Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back
  • By: Jeff Tweedy
  • Narrated by: Jeff Tweedy
  • Length: 3 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (749 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

There are few creative acts more mysterious and magical than writing a song. But what if the goal wasn't so mysterious and was actually achievable for anyone who wants to experience more magic and creativity in their life? That's something that anyone will be inspired to do after listening to Jeff Tweedy's How to Write One Song

Why one song? Because the difference between one song and many songs isn't a cute semantic trick - it's an important distinction that can simplify a notoriously confusing art form. The idea of becoming a capital-S songwriter can seem daunting, but approached as a focused, self-contained event, the mystery and fear subsides, and songwriting becomes an exciting pursuit. 

And then there is the energizing, nourishing creativity that can open up. How to Write One Song brings listeners into the intimate process of writing one song - lyrics, music, and putting it all together - and accesses the deep sense of wonder that remains at the heart of this curious yet incredibly fulfilling artistic act. But it’s equally about the importance of making creativity part of your life every day and of experiencing the hope, inspiration, and joy available to anyone who’s willing to get started.

©2020 Jeff Tweedy (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“[A] guide to rediscovering the joys of creating that we all felt as children ... The main premise of Tweedy’s latest book is in the title, but many of his points could be applied equally to a variety of creative endeavors: namely, how to stop giving yourself excuses and start just doing the thing.” (The New York Times)

"Jeff Tweedy is the perfect example of the consummate songwriter...Given his decades of success as an artist, the veteran musician has a lot of insight and advice to offer about writing a song. Offering tips and advice along the way, Tweedy guides readers on such things as starting a song and handling writer's block, a dreaded moment for any writer." (Forbes)

"In four carefully crafted sections, renowned songwriter, musician, and performer Tweedy explains the mysteries of the 'ephemeral' process of a writing a song, from inspiration to process, suppressing one's annoying ego, and disappearing in the work .... Observing Tweedy's glowingly creative mind at work throughout this seriously fun book is truly illuminating.” (Booklist

What listeners say about How to Write One Song

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Practical and actionable recipes for songwriting

Several things make this a highly worthwhile listen.

First, it's narrated by the author himself. This brings an authenticity to the material.

Second, the writing is so outstandingly straightforward it's like Jeff Tweedy is sitting across the table from you giving you songwriting advice.

Third, the songwriting advice and tools presented in this book are simple, understandable, and can be put into action while you're actually listening.

Fourth, he plays bits and pieces of songs throughout the material and ends the book with a finished song made from the bits and pieces he just walked you through.

Lastly, the whole thing is only about 3 hours. I listened to it all in one sitting. You could be writing a song 3 hours from now.

12 people found this helpful

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Best For A Blocked Beginner

This book is earnest and practical-minded . . . but aimed at generating raw material rather than crafting "Hits" or self-reflective masterpieces. (In other words, it's meant for someone with a creative impulse but no idea how to start and no particular message to share, so it didn't quite kickstart the dynamo of someone who wrote a lot of songs 10 years ago but not since.) In fact, he sheepishly says at one point that it is not "how to write a Good song," but more "how to write a song when you didn't think you could." He has found happiness by surprising himself with the creative process, and he'd like you to be happy, too. The other caveat is that the sort of song he's going to help you create is (obviously) a Jeff Tweedy song (so, a little bit linguistically surreal without aspiring to the psychedelic), and thus it might not be as useful if you don't already share his aesthetic ideals. As a reader, though, he is charming and humble enough for anyone to enjoy, and since you're listening to the audiobook, you get the bonus that he occasionally demonstrate his progress through the example song using a guitar.

7 people found this helpful

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More than a book about song writing

I enjoyed this book from the first chapter until the last words. I have been playing other people’s music for over 40 years but I always felt I could never write a song myself. Now I’m absolutely going to write a song. But, this book was so encouraging, realistic, and just plain uplifting to me. I plan on listening to it many times.

7 people found this helpful

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You will not be disappointed

Admittedly I am a fan of Jeff and Wilco... that said, I own at least 30 songwriting books. This is simple yet profound. Very personal and direct, clear and helpful. Jeff distilled all of the great songwriting wisdom and made it fun. Thank you Jeff!

7 people found this helpful

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OK Jeff, I’m going to give it a whirl!

I wouldn’t characterize this as a review as much as a reaction, but I just finished listening to this book for the first time on the day of its publication and I found it so inspirational that I already started on some of the exercises Jeff suggests. It was a lovely experience and, as always with anything Jeff does, a generous and open hearted gift.

6 people found this helpful

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Even if you don’t want to write a song…

I love this book for what it says about creativity and a creative process. And Tweedy is a delightful relatable storyteller. And who knows maybe you’ll end up writing a song. Or maybe I will :-)

5 people found this helpful

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A verbose account with nothing to say!

This is the only book I have ever regretted buying! No practical or useful information on how to put together a song. I don’t usually write reviews but I feel obliged so others don’t waste their time and money! I learned a lot about the authors addiction struggle and I’m glad he has it under control. I learned nothing about how to put a song together! Nothing!

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Audio version is best version

Beautiful take on creative process. Super helpful. I have both versions and audio version is best version. There are snippets of sound and songs that are very helpful to listen to in the audio version.

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The Kindness of Tweedy

I am not a songwriter, but to climb inside the mind of Jeff Tweedy for 3 hrs and listen to the process was inspiring. I highly suggest this for all the young musicians starting out to listen and actually try this method. Then do a deep study of the amazing band Wilco.

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Great Storyteller

Jeff is pure delight. Great and helpful book.. Thank you for such a look behind the curtain

2 people found this helpful

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