Top critical review
An uplifting little ditty that won't rock your world
Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2021
Tweedy as much as admits he's a natural when it comes to songwriting. He calls his songwriting skills "instinctive," which perhaps positions him as not the best instructor for understanding how to help someone who lacks any native aptitude for song craftsmanship. Where the book succeeds is in its knowing yet unflinchingly positive attitude toward human frailty and obstacles impeding the creative act. It delivers very good pop psychology. The core of How to Write One Song is a series of wordplay exercises that, if followed, will yield original phrases well suited to song lyrics. Where the book doesn't just stumble, but falls down to the depths of uselessness is in Tweedy's scant attention to song structure, and his willingness to almost completely gloss over the construction of melody and chordal structure – really, anything at all having to do with writing actual music! This may be an instructive text for courting a receptive attitude toward the creative muse in your life, and for how to proceed when the muse is in hiding. And I have no reason to think the word association exercises aren't excellent tools for learning to conjure thoughts into lyrics. But beyond that, I'd pass on this book as a genuine guide to one's first attempt at songwriting.