Usually I don't have much luck when I set out to write a song on purpose rather than being grabbed by inspiration. Right now I am struggling with wanting to write songs for two occasions (I can't tell you in case they read this post), but no luck yet. [**See update in comments section!**] For one I want to set a prayer to music, and my technique for that is more reliable (that's material for another post...). For the other one I am setting out to write both words and music, but I am struggling to come up with a theme that will capture the imagination and express how I see that person in a way that is compelling. For example, "Cornerstone" was written for an occasion, but once I got the idea for the theme, it all just flowed out when I sat down to write the words.
Recently I sat down with my friend Mark Sorak (who also happens to be an amazing painter) and we co-wrote a song together, which was my first experience of that. I must say I'm pretty pleased with the result, although it needs a little fine-tuning. We were talking one day and he mentioned that there is an actual church called "The Church of Broken Pieces." I said, "That sounds like a song waiting to be written," and he said, "Let's do it!" It ended up being about the idea that many people walk around with a secret pain, but our burdens can be lightened when we realize we are not alone with our broken hearts. The meaning of the song evolved as we worked our way through the verses and chorus. In this case we wrote the words first and then wrote the music.