4 Songwriting Tips for Serious Acoustic Guitar Players

While some people may have a natural talent for songwriting, others will have to work hard to polish their skills. Just like you get people who can pick up any instrument and play anything on it just by listening to a song. If you feel you need a nudge in the right direction to sharpen your songwriting skills, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we share some great tips to get you started.

Find Inspiration

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The first trick is to listen to some of the best songwriters songs. In fact, you can even try to avoid talking for a couple of hours and focus on the lyrics and music. Look to songwriter greats such as Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon or Johnny Cash.

Learn to Play Great Songs

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Covering a great song is no cheat, and can be a great exercise to get your creative juices flowing. It is said that when you learn to play and perform someone else’s songs, you are getting exposed to the basics of songwriting, which is an added benefit.

Stay True to Yourself

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When it comes to lyrics, the best advice we can give is to keep things real. Avoid common clichés at all cost, and write from the heart. This will also make it easier for your potential audience to relate to it. Don’t be afraid, take your idea and feelings and write them down!

Play With Chords

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Finally, once you have your lyrics ready, you can start adding a melody and rhythm. Try humming a tune while reading the lyrics, and work your way up from there. Once you have a basic melody and rhythm, you are ready to start playing around with chords and adding it to your lyrics.

Remember, anything worth your time and effort is not going to be easy. You’ll have to persevere and keep at it, never lose sight of your end goal, and remember to have fun!

Leonard Cohen’3 Greatest Gifts to the World

Leonard Cohen’s songs, stories and beliefs he shared to the world impacted and inspired millions. His accomplishments in the music industry as a gifted guitarist and talented songwriter stood the test of time and so will his life lessons to the world.

Here are Cohen’s 3 greatest gifts to the world.

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Music

From “Suzanne” in 1967 all the way to “String Reprise / Treaty” in 2016, Cohen never fell short when it comes to the music he shared to the world. Cohen is responsible for hits such as “Hallelujah,” “I’m Your Man,” “Tower of Song,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” and so much more.

Cohen released 14 albums and went to dozens of live concerts all over the globe.

Cohen holding ad playing an acoustic guitar on stage will always be a spectacle for everyone.

Not only that, Cohen told a lot of his personal stories through his songs, like the women he fell in love with, the struggles he had to endure and that one time when his raincoat got stolen.

Cohen received 4 Grammy awards in total: Best Rock Performance (2018), Album of the Year (2008), Lifetime Achievement (2010), and Hall of Fame (2008). Cohen’s signature melancholy vibe he showed in his music inspired hundreds of artists.

Passion to write songs

When talking about the art of songwriting and composition, you can’t leave out Cohen. He wrote his hit song “Sisters of Mercy” from his debut album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” back in 1967 in one sitting.

He wrote the beautiful song after meeting two young women during a snowstorm in Canada.

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Several articles were written to analyze his songwriting skills and the creativity he portrayed in every song. Not only that, Cohen was known for his guitar skills, mainly fingerpicking. Cohen thought of creative and beautiful fingerpicking patterns for his songs like “Suzanne” and “Famous Blue Raincoat.”

Cohen with an acoustic or classical guitar is truly a sight and sound to experience. It is no doubt the Cohen and an acoustic guitar was a match made in heaven.

Kindness

To his many friends and family, Cohen was known for his distinct traits. He was shy, sensitive and loving. People knew him said these qualities of his are both considered to be his strengths and weaknesses.

But no one can argue that Cohen was a kind soul. He was perceptive of his life and the life of others, even the strangers around his surroundings and those miles away from him.

On November 7, 2016, Cohen due to health issues and leukaemia. His music and his life will remain forever in people’s hearts. Even after his death, Cohen continued to shock the music world.

He won the Grammy award for Best Rock Performance for his song “You Want it Darker.” He was even nominated the same year for the American Roots Performance for his track “Steer Your Way” from his final album.

Up to this day, singers that would perform in front of their families or those auditioning for singing competitions would pick his songs like “Hallelujah” or “Suzanne.” It is undeniable that Cohen is truly one of the greatest musicians to exist. His life and music are timeless.

The Story Behind Leonard Cohen’s “Sister of Mercy”

Cohen is known for his amazing songwriting abilities and he proved that many times. One of the first times he did that was when he wrote the song “Sisters of Mercy.” Believe it or not, Cohen finished the song in one sitting, lyrics and guitar chords.

To come up with fresh lyrics that tell a unique story is a challenge and to even come up with an amazing chord progression is not a simple thing to do in one sitting, but yet, Cohen did it.

Many artists who later covered and sampled the song all did it with an acoustic guitar to never diminish the melody Cohen created.

Cohen recalled one day he found met two young hitchhiking women during a snowstorm. Cohen invited the two to rest for the night at his hotel room and they accepted. Upon arrival at the room, the two went to bed instantly and rested for the night.

Cohen, on the other hand, stayed up and started writing a song about the entire experience.

In the song, Cohen told the story that the sisters were actually waiting for Cohen to meet them. Upon meeting them, he felt a strong sense of comfort and then afterwards this beautiful song.

Cohen also shared that the morning after, he finished the song and played it for the two women. The song was featured in the drama action film “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” directed by Robert Altman and released in 1971. Also, the song title even became an inspiration for a goth band “The Sisters of Mercy.”

Grammy-winning artist Sting even performed the song in 2017 during the Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen.  Several artists in the mainstream or not performed covers of this song.

The Sisters of Mercy” served as an inspiration for many songwriters throughout history. The entire composition of the song is truly a story worth telling for many years to come by.

Cohen is definitely one of the best songwriters in the world for all generations.

The Inspiration behind Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”

In his 1992 album, Leonard Cohen introduced the song “Anthem” that became an anthem of hope. Even now, people are turning to the song during hard times in their lives. What is the inspiration behind the song anyway?

Cohen is not that fond of explaining his music on his own as his music already does that.

Cohen explained that the song was about finding the silver lining in every situation, mostly bad. “Ring the bells that can still ring.”

If you think about it the inspiration of the song is something that most people feel and that is hope.  In the song, Cohen shared a message about mankind not being perfect but still being able to take on the challenge of life.

“Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Cohen in a way fought for imperfection. It truly is a perfect metaphor of almost everything in life both good and bad.

One line of the song that was open to many interpretations was the one with the killers praying out loud in high places. Some people said Cohen was talking about politicians and their immorality.

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In the song, Cohen had a line the reads “But like a refugee.” In the present, people found a new meaning in this line as immigration and deportation became world issues that go against human rights.

“Anthem” continues to share its timeless message to people all over the globe. Cohen said the song is a “philosophical ground” to always keep in mind. To this day the song is being sung all over the globe not to only pay tribute to Cohen but to also see the goodness in all.

Years after the song was released and a couple after Cohen’s death, people from all over would post videos singing the song and most of them would use nothing but an acoustic guitar. There are even musicians who created solo acoustic guitar   arrangement of the song.

Needless to say, Cohen’s songwriting skills are cemented in music history, and he’ll continue inspiring musicians and people for years to come.

Leonard Cohen’s 3 most Memorable Songs

Most people are familiar with Cohen’s hit songs like “Hallelujah,” “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire.” But just like other artists, Cohen had his share of memorable songs without the awards.

In this post, we take a closer look at Leonard Cohen’s masterful songwriting skills as we pay homage to some of his most memorable songs.

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Cohen tackled different religions with his music. “Who by Fire” from his fourth studio album “New Skin for the Old Ceremony” was inspired by a Jewish prayor or prayer.  The song was Cohen’s own version of the Hebrew prayer titled “Unetanneh Tokef.”

Cohen heard this prayer when he was young. The song is not the length but it truly made its mark throughout Cohen’s fans.

Cohen’s performance of this track in London back in 2008 opened, played and ended with its signature twelve-string guitar arrangement.

Please don’t Pass by me (A Disgrace)

Cohen through his music was a storyteller. This is evident with his song “Please Don’t Pass by me (A Disgrace).” Cohen talked about a homeless man in New York and he even mentioned the Jews and Gypsies that were killed in concentration camps and then burned. In the song, Cohen said he sang for those poor souls and for the smoke they made after suffering a horrific death.

Some people said this song was the most painful song Cohen ever wrote.

Dance Me to the End of Love

“Dance Me to the End of Love” is truly one of Cohen’s best and most memorable songs. Cohen first played the song in 1984 for his album “Various Positions.” Cohen’s life at the Greek Island of Hydra played yet a big role for this song. The song follows the Greek dance path “Hasapiko.”

It may sound crazy but the song was actually inspired by one of mankind’s greatest tragedy, the Holocaust. Cohen thought about the presence of music during those dreaded times of pain and death.

This song opened up a whole new world for Cohen in the mainstream industry. The song was covered by a number of artists including Sting, Mark Seymour, The Civil Wars and more.

Cohen’s songs are truly a gift to mankind. Find out more about his craft by finding out his top three albums.

Leonard Cohen’s Top 5 Live Performances

Cohen on tour is an experience you can’t miss that is why millions of people all over the globe went to his concerts no matter if they were miles away. Unlike in his early days, Cohen would take care of most of the acoustic guitar melodies and parts for most of his songs.

But, even at an old age, Cohen was still able to play his acoustic guitar perfectly in live performances.

He was still able to bring the fingerpicking finesse everyone cheered about when he was young. The melodic plucking for example from a “Suzanne” performance that was posted on YouTube is more than enough to tell you that Cohen was a beast with an acoustic guitar.

pageimage LeonardCohensTop5LivePerformances operalive - Leonard Cohen’s Top 5 Live PerformancesChelsea Hotel No. 1 (Europe, 1972)

Before the “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” there was No. 1. In 1972, Cohen roams around Europe and Israel.

He performed in several countries including Ireland, England, Germany, Austria, Holland France, Israel and more. People were always excited when he starts talking and singing about his experience at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City.

Everybody Knows (Dublin, 2013)

During his three-hour concert at The O2 Arena in Dublin, the audience was mesmerized when drum beat led to the intro melody of his hit song “Everybody Knows.” Despite his age, Cohen delivered yet another magnificent performance of the show with flawless guitar riffs and background melodies.

There is a video of that performance on YouTube and on the comment section, people would say “Everybody Knows” Leonard Cohen is the best or something like that. Throughout the performance, Cohen did little movement but his passion and love for music took the entire arena.

Hallelujah (London, 2008)

Cohen took the stage earlier on another O2 Arena in London, England. Cohen’s performance of his iconic song “Hallelujah” didn’t disappoint and it never did.

From “I’ve heard there was a secret song” all the way to the last “Hallelujah” the audience was cheering and some are probably crying to witness Cohen on stage.

 At the end of this song performance, Cohen tipped his hat and gave thanks to his band, the background singers and of course to the crowd as they applauded.

pageimage LeonardCohensTop5LivePerformances performlive - Leonard Cohen’s Top 5 Live PerformancesSuzanne (England, 1970)

In most of his performances, Cohen only needed a guitar on his hand, a little backup singing and melody. For most, that’s all he needed and yet, he always got it on target.

In 1970 at the Isle of Wight, an adult Cohen serenaded the crowd with his hit song “Suzanne” from his debut album “Songs of Leonard Cohen.” At the end of the performance, the audience clapped and whistled. Truly one of Cohen’s memorable live performances.

Full concert (Israel, 2009)

For the last leg of his 2009 tour, Cohen came back to Israel at the Ramat Gan Stadium. Cohen proved that his old age didn’t get in the way of his passion to perform.

Cohen traveled the world and played in front of millions. Up to this day, videos of his live performances keep on popping up one after another.

Leonard Cohen’s Top 3 Albums of all time

Cohen’s amazing music career can be summed up into his 14 albums from the 1960s all the way to 2016. Here are Cohen’s top three albums of all time.

Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

With his debut album, Cohen took the music world by surprise with his mystifying lyrics and specific tone of voice. The album is mostly inspired by Cohen’s personal experience with life, love, pain and everything in between.

The album included Cohen’s iconic songs “Suzanne” and “So Long, Marianne.”

pageimage LeonardCohensTop3Albumsofalltime vinylrecords - Leonard Cohen’s Top 3 Albums of all timeBoth songs were inspired by two women who caught Cohen’s heart throughout the 1960s. The album up to this day is considered to have one of the best melancholy vibes.  His debut album didn’t only introduce Cohen as a great songwriter but also as an amazing acoustic guitarist.

The guitar arrangements for most of the songs in this album like “Suzanne,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Winter Lady,” and more are truly fingerstyle excellence. Cohen was one of the best when it comes to fingerstyle or plucking. He knew his way around every note and chord to create a significant vibe for each song.

To see for yourself, just listen to his songs from his first and final album.

You Want it Darker (2016)

Cohen’s final album was the last hurrah for a truly brilliant career in music. When it was released in 2016, it debuted number 10 on the Billboard 200. The title track “You want it Darker” gave Cohen a Grammy award for Best Rock Performance in January 2018.

On his first album, Cohen sang about life, love and pain. In this final album, he talked about God, humor, death and life. The album was composed with 9 tracks written all written by Cohen himself.

I’m Your Man (1988)

Cohen’s eighth album “I’m Your Man” is without a doubt his best album. Cohen experimented with modern sound to create 8 songs for this album to be completed and this is evident with the funky bass riffs and drum machines.

Just like in most of his albums, Cohen had a little help from a choir to exert boldness in his music as he did when he first started writing songs. All 8 songs in this album took the world but “Everybody Knows,” “Ain’t No Cure for Love” and “First We Take Manhattan” were the top dogs.

Learn more about Cohen’s 14 albums with us.

Leonard Cohen’s Top 5 Songs

Grammy-winning artist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leonard Cohen gifted the world with a lot of beautiful songs. Believe it or not, Cohen was initially gunning to become a writer.

But he was not that lucky with the pages before so he shifted his focus elsewhere, writing folk songs.

Here are Cohen’s five greatest songs of all time.

Hallelujah

Cohen tackled religion and religious beliefs with his music. That is evident with his 1984 track “Hallelujah” from his 7th studio album “Various Positions.”

The song was covered by a number of global artists including John Cale and Jeff Buckley, dozens of artists then followed and “Hallelujah” became an anthem in the music industry.

Hearing the first line “Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord” all the way to the ensemble singing “Hallelujah, Hallelujah” will always get you.

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So Long, Marianne

Just like other artists, Cohen found his muse and that person, is Norwegian woman Marianne Ihlen. The result of their affection for each other, “So Long, Marianne.” Cohen and Ihlen were together from 1960 to 1967.

When they grew apart, Cohen came out with his debut album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” and in it, was the song for Marianne. In July 2016, Marianne died from leukaemia, three months later Cohen passed away.

Cohen fans can’t help but tear up when they hear the lines from the song “Now so long, Marianne. It’s time that we began to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.

Bird on a wire

Just like for “So long, Marianne,” Marianne Ihlen encouraged Cohen to write one of his signature songs “Bird on a wire.” In 1960, Cohen and Ihlen were living together at the Hydra island in Greek.

One day, Cohen saw a bird resting on a wire and the resulted to the hit song released back in 1968 from his “Songs from a room” album. Many people say, to see Cohen perform “Bird on a wire” live is truly a gift from God.

Suzanne

Suzanne Verdal from Montreal became the muse of many poets, but it was Cohen who got it right. Cohen shared some of his fondest memories with Verdal like indulging with tea and oranges that come all the way from the country of China.

The song was the first track of Cohen’s debut album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” in 1967 together with “So long, Marianne.” Verdal knew Cohen before fame. The two never got together but it is safe to say that Verdal had a big impact on Cohen’s life.

Famous Blue Raincoat

Truly one of Cohen’s mysterious song throughout his music career. Most of his songs were inspired by the real-life experience and this one is no different. The story behind the song is not that dramatic, a thief stole Cohen’s raincoat and then “Famous blue raincoat” came in 1971 from his album “Songs of love and hate.”

Democracy (BONUS) – “Democracy” from his 1992 album “The Future” is also a song you have to listen to. You know why? Listen to the song and you’ll find out why.

Learn to play some of Cohen’s best songs today.