How Do You Know When a Song is Done?

During our weekend at Boston Calling, we asked all of the artists a very important question: “How do you know when a song is done being written?” The range of answers was interesting, informative – and we noticed a few trends in songwriting. Here’s what they had to say:


“My question is when do you decide to share a song? When I think that a song is finished and worth sharing, cause I write songs that are just for myself. A song worth sharing has to mean something more than just for myself. It has to mean something I believe for other people…. I prefer to emit messages of understanding or hope. That doesn’t mean that all my songs are positive, though.” Lucy Dacus


“I never know when a song is done. Sometimes we’ll release it and I’ll realize it isn’t done. But that’s why I like live performances, because it’s a chance to revise it every time we play it.” Will Toledo, Car Seat Headrest


“You never really know when a song is done. It is always evolving on stage but after a certain point you have to let it go or it starts to lose its initial meaning.” Tim Showalter, Strand of Oaks



“I can consider a song finished in a studio when… it’s just kind of a feeling. You just kind of know its done. Probably the same way that someone who’s been writing a book can kinda know they’ve stumbled upon the ending that they want. It’s just kind of a feeling.” Kevin Morby


“I don’t know. The problem for me, with the new record, is that I tried to recreate things many times and I try to go back and rehash things a lot and…. What I found is that the original inception or the birth of something is usually the truest form of something. In my experience. You know, you have something that has a certain feeling to it and then you try and recreate a feeling – it’s never gonna work. Not for me, at least…. You feel something. Like, where’s the heart? You feel it in there.” Mac DeMarco



“I think I’m finally finished with a song when I’m bored with it… You can always change songs more and more, but there’s just this ‘click!’ inside you… where I’m just like ‘I’m done.’ There’s nothing more I can do with it. I just have to let it go to school and take the bus and just live its own life.” Mitski


“When you’ve successfully played it three times in a row and feel good about it.” Travis Shettel, Piebald