What I Really Meant To Say

Album: My World (2001)
Charted: 26
  • "I'm not a depressed person," laughs songwriter Tommy Lee James. "I tend to be a very happy person." But "I tend to love those bittersweet things that kind of rip your heart out."
    James co-wrote this song with Cyndi Thomson, and says he loves the emotion of the song, and the angst it defines. And these things are typical of a Tommy Lee tune, though he does try and keep out the heaviness and intensity. He says, "There's just a few parts to this emotionally that I tend to always go, and I don't know why. I don't really analyze what I do, because I'm scared to. Because I don't want to demystify it. I've never really analyzed it, but I always just seem to try to do what feels natural and what's right. And what moves me are those really few bittersweet things like, 'I love you but you're leaving,' those kind of things, where it's just those bittersweet situations. And those are the things that kind of appeal to me. I'm not much on writing the up-tempo happy songs. I wish I was. I'd have more money."
  • Some songwriters love to go to that dark place inside to pull out imagery for their writing. Clint Black has been quoted as saying he writes his best heart-break songs when he's really happy.
    Tommy's explanation is a bit less straightforward. "When you've lived your life, you're a little bit older, as I am, you don't have to be going through something to feel it again. You can remember what you were feeling. I remember in college I had this girl break my heart. I remember listening to a Jackson Browne record, and I remember my roommate going, 'God, man, that must really be depressing you.' But there's something about that kind of song, when you're feeling like that, that heals to me. It made me feel better." And Tommy's self-proclaimed purpose in writing his songs is to pass along that connection, so everyone knows they are in good company, regardless of what they're going through. (Check out our interview with Tommy Lee James.)


Be the first to comment...

Song CitiesMusic Quiz

Nirvana, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen are among those who wrote songs with cities that show up in this quiz.

Grateful Dead CharactersMusic Quiz

Many unusual folks appear in Grateful Dead songs. Can you identify them?

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)Songwriter Interviews

Chad tells tales from his time as drummer for Nirvana, and talks about his group Before Cars.

90210 to Buffy to Glee: How Songs Transformed TVSong Writing

Shows like Dawson's Creek, Grey's Anatomy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed the way songs were heard on TV, and produced some hits in the process.

Colbie CaillatSongwriter Interviews

Since emerging from MySpace with her hit "Bubbly," Colbie has become a top songwriter, even crafting a hit with Taylor Swift.

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: '80s EditionMusic Quiz

You know the scenes - Tom Cruise in his own pants-off dance off, Molly Ringwald celebrating her birthday - but do you remember what song is playing?