This thread is mainly just for me to ask some questions and improve my song writing.

First of all, just out of curiosity, I'd like to know who you'd say your major musical/lyrical influences are, and what kinds of songs you write. Just out of curiosity. I think that this is probably one of the biggest factors in the process you go through while making a song.

Personally, I listen mainly to classic rock, early metal, a sprinkling of hair and a little bit of modern stuff, ranging from "alternative" bands like Reliant K to some Ska. In general, I've always listened to music on the poppy side, and lord knows what it's done to my writing. I write like Paul Mccartney in the 80s, minus most of the good parts put to powerchords. Guh. Any advice as how to expand ideas beyond obvious cliches would be helpful.

Also, how do you folks lay down a "lead" part for an instrument like guitar or keyboard once you set down a basic chord progression? I've always had a hard time doing this, and I was wondering if someone here could tell me a good way to work on this skill, or how they've always done this.

Finally, I was wondering how you guys get inspired to write something. I often find myself WANTING to write, but not being able to draw on anything to write on.

Wondering if anyone had any experience/advice regarding these methods:
1. Writing from the music, someone comes up with a lick/chrod progression, and the lyrics form around this.
2. Simply thinking of a specific idea and writingaround it.
3. The "I've only heard of Paul Mccartney doing this" method, meaning you come up with a phrase, name or vague idea and run with it.

Any thoughts for an aspiring writer would be appreciated.

My current ghetto setup:

Crate VC508 (Needs new speaker and pots BADLEY.)
Fender R15
Peavey T-60
Original LPB-1
BBE Sonic Maximizer (rack)
the best way to play lead parts is ... just playing what ever's in your head on the guitar.. its not a difficult concept really, just play out what you feel is going on. on the guitar
I'm inspired a lot by John K. Samson from the Weakerthans. I love his lyrics. Also, it's easier to write lead parts first and then write the harmony (chord progression). And as for actually getting started on writing, what I usually do is find a song I really like and basically come up with my own lyrics that follow the melody and rhythm. After a month or so I'll look back at the lyrics and change them to fit a song I wrote. That's how I do it. Maybe it's cheating, but it works for me.