Who Are You?

“Sometimes you’re the windshield

Sometimes you’re the bug”

                 Copyright – John Hiatt

Sometimes one of the hardest things  a creative person has to do is to decide who you are and what voice you’re speaking in.  This is especially true for songwriters and performers. The above two lines, written by master songwriter John Hiatt identify the quandry in a humorous and unique way.

And John should know. He’s a monster talent, having written a ridiculous amount of great songs and has a discography envied by many.  He’s revered by other songwriters and musicians because of his insane ability to tell stories in a unique and fascinating way.  The guy is a genius. If you want to be a great writer, become a student of his songs, it will teach you alot.

John is a writer’s writer.  He can write songs for himself and songs other people want to cut and perform. Just listen to his version of “Have a Little Faith in Me” and then listen to Delbert McClinton’s version.  They’re different because they convey the personality of each singer’s unique voice.

Songwriters who can develop a unique perspective and tell it well are always in demand.  Think about the songs you love and want to hear over and over again.  Although they may seem simple, and SO obvious, there is alot of care and craft put into them.

Here’s another example of  a master of conveying his unique voice, Ed Sheeran.

“The club isn’t the best place to find a lover

So the bar is where I go

Me and my friends at the table doing shots

Drinking fast and then talking slow

Come over and start a conversation with just me

And trust me I’ll give it a chance now

Take my hand now, stop, put Van the Man on the jukebox”

                    Copyright – Ed Sheeran 

Ed Sheeran is popular for a reason, and one of the few people who can sell out a stadium with just his voice and a guitar. Yeah his songs are that good. But why? Well like Hiatt, he is able to share his stories in captivating ways that draw you in.

“Thinking Out Loud”, “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” are all remarkable songs that demonstrate his ability to speak his unique voice in a variety of compelling, yet different styles. How does he do it? With syncopation, aliteration, repetition, and a number of other impressive craft techniques. And great music!

Just look where he pops up, and the myriad projects he’s involved with from Taylor Swift to Keith Urban and Beyonce. He is able to not only use his voice distinctly but to combine it with others.

Find Your Voice

You have a unique view, or perspective on the world because you are unique. There is no one else on the planet with your specific DNA, so first of all celebrate that. But before you get too comfortable, let’s look at what a unique voice means as it applies to you.

TIP: If you are a writer of any kind, the Dictionary needs to be your constant friend, along with its cousin the Thesaurus.

According to Merriam-Webster :



\\ yu̇-ˈnēk   
1: being the only one : SOLE
-his  unique concern was his own comfort
-I can’t walk away with a unique copy. Suppose I lost it?
— Kingsley Am isthe unique factorization of a number into prime factors
2a: being without a like or equal : 
UNEQUALED  could stare at the flames, each one new, violent, unique— Robert Coover
b: distinctively characteristic : PECULIAR sense 1this is not a condition unique to California— Ronald Reagan
c: able to be distinguished from all others of its class or type : DISTINCT sense 1You will see an assortment of digital tags that let the Web site identify your computer as a unique visitor.— Peter H. Lewis
3: UNUSUAL a very unique ball-point pen ,we were fairly unique, the sixty of us, in that there wasn’t one good mixer in the bunch— J. D. Salinger


Use your voice to express your SOLE view, be UNEQUALED, use your PECULIAR and DISTINCT senses, and be UNUSUAL.

I’m betting you will be surprised at what you create in each of them.  Time’s a wastin’ get on it!