In a video series put on by Barnes & Noble (find it on YouTube here), Paul Simon made a comment that stuck with me. He said that music can be cliche. For some reason, I had only considered words and phrases to be potentially overused. But when he made the comment, I realized that I have certain paths that I default to in my creativity. "In this situation, do that..." and "In that situation, do this."
Basically, it's okay to use a cliche, music or otherwise, as long as it's put in a new light. Using a common chord progression, the lyric must be extraordinary, and vice versa.
Be careful of the chords, melodies and lyrics that could be seen as "overused." Simon believes that when we use overused elements in our art, people tune out. And as a songwriter, that sort of defeats the purpose.
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