Don't get him wrong, says Ron Simpson, who has taught songwriting at Brigham Young University for the past 25 years; a natural aptitude is helpful, and genius certainly doesn't hurt.
But the George Gershwins and Paul McCartneys of this world are few and far between, he says. And for every one of them, there are dozens of average guys who learn to hone their songwriting skills.
"I see songwriting as a craft; I teach it as a craft," says Simpson. That means, he says, that if you follow certain principles you can raise your chances of success and increase your abilities to connect in memorable ways with your audience.
You can learn, he says, principles of form that determine where verses, choruses and bridges go. You can learn to avoid monochromatic, boring chord progressions. You can refine words and lyrics that impart messages and meanings.