When we’re going through something meaningful and complicated in our lives, like the beginning or ending of a relationship, there is often a deep well of inspiration to draw from. But when we’re in a more stable place (aka no drama), it can be a little trickier to figure out what to write about.
One of the patterns we see in many of the writers we work with—and in ourselves from time to time—is a struggle to keep creativity flowing during easy times. And it makes sense why. It’s WORK. It takes experimentation, discipline and open-mindedness. But it’s worth it to be the kind of writer who can write AND be happy!
We at TOTB have a running list of creative ways to ignite song ideas. We use them often in our own writing and in our workshops. But every once in a while we come across a new method and we LOVE it when that happens!
“Diane” by Cam exposed us to a new method that we can’t wait to try out.
Diane is a response song.
In her interview with Rolling Stone Country, Cam noted that the song is her “response to Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene.’ It’s the apology so many spouses deserve, but never get. The other woman is coming forward to break the news to the wife about an affair, respecting her enough to have that hard conversation, once she realized he was married. Because everyone should be able to decide their own path in life, based on the truth. Women especially should do this for each other, since our self-worth can still be so wrapped up in our partners. And in true country fashion, I’ve set the whole raw story to upbeat music, so you can dance while you process it all.”
While Dolly pleads “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene. I’m begging of you please don’t take my man. Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene. Please don’t take him just because you can,” Cam responds with “Diane, I promise I didn’t know he was your man. I would have noticed a gold wedding band. Diane, I’d rather you hate me than not understand. Oh, Diane.”
Not only does this song have killer vocals, tight stacked harmonies and a damn catchy hook, we love how she reimagined the motivation and perspective of a classic character like Jolene.
Are you imagining what fun you can have with writing a response song like this?
We are! Here are a few songs that you can try it with:
“You’re So Vain” – Carly Simon
“Rich Girl” – Hall & Oates
“Someone Like You” – Adele
“Cecelia” – Simon & Garfunkel
“Jealous” – Labrinth
“Space Cowboy” – Kacey Musgraves
“Sad Lisa” – Cat Stevens
“Lucille” – Kenny Rogers
“Roxanne” – The Police
So the next time you’re at a loss for what to write about, take a stab at writing a response song like “Diane.” We’d love to hear what you come up with, so put a link in the comments below and share your response song with us!
Allie & Bess