Adele recently stated that if she hasn’t lived the experience in her song, she can’t sing it. And so it follows that if she wouldn’t WRITE a songs without having experienced those events and feelings.
While I am a big fan of her singing and songwriting, I hope that beginner songwriters don’t take this path as the ONLY way to write a “real” song.
One of my favorite songs, “Angel From Montgomery”, was written by a young John Prine and the first line is “I am an old woman”. Warren Zevon is an undercover spy in Central America in “Lawyers,Guns and Money” and a suicidal junkie in “Carmelita”. John Lennon sang “I am the Walrus”. John Hiatt was behind bars in “Tennessee Plates”. And are we to believe that Johnny Cash really “shot a man in Reno just watch him die”?
Confessional, personal songwriting is nothing new…think of Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne. But they wrote lots of other kinds of songs as well. If you limit your songwriting to your own experiences and feelings, you had better be leading the life of Candide.