I've wanted to be a songwriter ever since the '70s when John Denver was popular. He's the one who inspired me the most in my late teens, in fact one of my first songs (that was any good) sounded just like him. It was called "Take Me Back to Alaska" and to this day I still sing it from time to time. I remember my friends "getting into it". And that's a good way to know if you're getting close or not on a song--it's the difference between people saying, "That's a good song," versus them saying, "Wow, that's a great song, man I really like that song!".
Currently, I'm getting ready to go into the studio again to record a country song called "That's Life," which starts out with a homeless man in the first verse, a stripper in the second verse and brings it back around to the singer singing to the crowd (you and me) in the bridge of the song. The moral of the song is that we all could've done things differently in life, and we're all just a couple steps away from being in an unpleasant place. It's important to keep moving on and having a good attitude where ever you are. I'm very hopeful for this song and got good responses wherever I played it. The Great versus good comments I get after playing it lead me to believe the song has a chance on Music Row.
Before I ever go into the studio now, I will always spend a little money getting it critiqued by someone like Jason Blume (famous songwriter author). Based on what was said about "That's Life," I knew that revisions were needed, so I called a friend and together we must have come up with 10 different Choruses and nearly as many Bridges before we landed on a winner. Spend the money on a critique before you spend any money on studio time--that's the wisest thing I've ever learned. And don't ever sign a Writers Contract without having someone look it over. I had the unfortunate experience of signing one that I regret. Even if a publisher sends you the contract through email, for your review (to make sure the revision clause is in there), don't trust what you see. The contract sent via email for you to review, and what you sign in person might be two different things.