Writing good lyrics is really tough!

Charlie Bernstein

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Well ... it's morning here; just woke up and already I've learnt something new; interrobang. It's the logo for the NSW state library, so I should have known of it. Actually I didn't know the library had a logo, or what it was, so I've learnt lots of new things this morning.

The interrobang may be a subversive plot, since "The interrobang was first proposed in 1962 by ..... Speckter."
I'm sure the British Secret Service is onto this with their best man.

That's all for now. Period. (Wait ... I follow the word period with a period?!)
=O]

And did you like the period link?
 

catdaddy

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I tackle lyrics like it is a movie that I must deliver in 4 minutes. Draw them in and make them want to listen. Hook the listener. Make it memorable. Make it emotionally universal. No one wants to buy a song about your green parakeet who escaped because... not everyone owns a green parakeet. But everyone knows about love, anger, disappointment and success. You want to sell records, right?

Ah, but you could use the "green parakeet who escaped" as a metaphor for your lost love so as to appeal not only to romantics but to avian devotees and bird-watcher types, and by thus doing become fulfilled both creatively and commercially. ;)
 

DADGAD

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Ah, but you could use the "green parakeet who escaped" as a metaphor for your lost love so as to appeal not only to romantics but to avian devotees and bird-watcher types, and by thus doing become fulfilled both creatively and commercially. ;)

Well done! Like I suggested; Learn the rules, then learn a way to break them. :twisted:
 

kbold

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It seems to me that we tend to be more self-critical about lyrics than about melody, rhythm, and harmony. In reality, our melodies, rhythms and harmonies are probably as trite as our lyrics, but we are less confident in our lyrics.
If I'm editing a song for improvements, it's almost always the lyrics. There seems (perhaps only subjectively) often to be an imperfection in the lyrics that is not apparent in the rhythm and melody.
Also lyrics are original (at least I hope so) while the music is a general construct based on both theory and history.

I do however, sometimes change the chords (in perhaps the bridge, for example) to give it an 'edgier' feel. Edgier here (for me) generally means changing basic chords with more jazzy ones.
e.g. I have a song with the verse chords: C F C F C F C F ... (Yawn) ..... so for the bridge: C Ddim7 FM7 F C G Am F

Also, the lyrics are 'set in concrete', while the tempo, melody, and general musical dynamics may (and often do) change depending on my mood.

So I confess to being 'more self critical about the lyrics'.
 

Toast

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Personally, I think artists who are happy with the way things are, tend to have nothing interesting to say. If you want to be an interesting writer, you have to have an interesting sense of curiosity.

Normality is a paved road: It's comfortable to walk on, but no flowers grow on it. --Vincent Van Gogh
 
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Harry Styron

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If I'm editing a song for improvements, it's almost always the lyrics. There seems (perhaps only subjectively) often to be an imperfection in the lyrics that is not apparent in the rhythm and melody.
Also lyrics are original (at least I hope so) while the music is a general construct based on both theory and history.

I do however, sometimes change the chords (in perhaps the bridge, for example) to give it an 'edgier' feel. Edgier here (for me) generally means changing basic chords with more jazzy ones.
e.g. I have a song with the verse chords: C F C F C F C F ... (Yawn) ..... so for the bridge: C Ddim7 FM7 F C G Am F

Also, the lyrics are 'set in concrete', while the tempo, melody, and general musical dynamics may (and often do) change depending on my mood.

So I confess to being 'more self critical about the lyrics'.


Here’s something to try, which gives you two short key changes (to F then to G) in the bridge for some variety:

Make your bridge chords the verse chords, because they’re more interesting.

For the bridge, do this: Gm7 C9 FM7 F6, then Am7 D7 G G7, and you’re back to C.

These short changes in the key allow you to alter the melody a bit from C major, to create contrast, which gives the lyrics of your bridge a chance to stand out.
 

kbold

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Here’s something to try, which gives you two short key changes (to F then to G) in the bridge for some variety:

Make your bridge chords the verse chords, because they’re more interesting.

For the bridge, do this: Gm7 C9 FM7 F6, then Am7 D7 G G7, and you’re back to C.

These short changes in the key allow you to alter the melody a bit from C major, to create contrast, which gives the lyrics of your bridge a chance to stand out.
Some ideas for me to ponder.
Nice progression .... I'll have a look at that.
But, the bridge is followed with chorus that starts with G.

So .. I'll probably steal it for another song.:D
 

Digital Larry

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In the past two years I wrote 4 songs with words. Those were the first in 17 years. I feel pretty good about that. And now I'm not feeling it any more, but maybe this will provide me the opportunity to record some version of those (I think one-man-band recording is pretty difficult as well).

As you are trying to sell a song, you probably need to keep the theme clear and universal. I've never felt constrained by playing into others' expectations as to themes or whatever and also I think I am somewhat emotionally blocked by nature so I go for clever/weird/sarcastic/humorous over "emotionally resonant". In high school and college I often thought (of my peers) "why is everyone trying so hard to be normal?"

Anyway, it gets back to your goals. Could I write a song that a lot of people liked? Yes. I have done that. I was fortunate because I wasn't really trying to think "oh yeah everyone's experienced this". It wasn't about any sort of human or emotional thing at all.

Would I like to try to write songs that everyone likes ALL THE TIME? The answer to that is NO. That is not true to who I am and it would require me to suppress my weirder tendencies in order to come up with things that I THINK other people could relate to. I just don't think that would work. However, on reflection, I can say that I've written songs that pretend to be normal but on deeper inspection are somewhat subversive.
 

chulaivet1966

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I go for clever/weird/sarcastic/humorous

Obviously, we all have different approaches to lyrical writing.

Me....I don't aspire to, nor do I write "weird/sarcastic/humorous" lyrics.
As a life long song writing bottom feeder, I'd like to believe that my lyrics are well thought out or even on the same quality meter as 'clever' but that's not for me to measure....gracious listeners of our material will determine that. :)

Generally speaking....my song writing priority (in aiming for my own perception of originality) has always been to write about subjects that most do not write about.
In looking again at my s/c page, I do think my song writing drivel does reflect that overall propensity.
Because of that pursuit I've ensured that my efforts will never have mass appeal :)....but, I don't care....that's not why I write.
I try to avoid having a 'gracious' listener automatically think ".....oh great, another sappy love song" or "another one screaming indiscernible lyrics of angst".

We all have our personal approaches and I always encourage people to write what they want but without lofty expectations.
Do it because it's what you do.

I seem to recall reading some comments here that 'song writing is hard"...well, I agree.

But....that's just me...to each their own and I wish all well in their music pursuits.

Have a great day.
 

claes

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Song lyrics isn't suposed to be "esoteric", "differcult", "smart". It's not suposed to be poetry according to Joni Mitchell (that hates poetry).

It more of a feel than an accomplishment.

I've been writing this before on this forum (and made people angry) that good songwriters keep 20% or less.

Dylans basement tapes is 138 songs and two hits (I shall be released and mike the eskimo (manfred man). There is a few covers etc but the man wrote all the time. That doesn't mean it's bad, but it isn't hits.
All his 60's girlfriends testify that he wrote all the time (seriously) and wasn't much fun apart from being Bob Dylan.
 

claes

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Interestingly, The Writer's Block seems to be tucked away in the corner here. It has only 92 threads and less than 3000 posts. Hmmm.
Well, we (this forum) is quite new and "writing songs is difficult - just ask the sweet"

If you don't record or play out in an environment where it's appreciated many people probably think it's a waste of time.

I do it because it comes naturally to me if I pick up an guitar. That has always been the case. My cables just seems to be laid out that way
 

popthree

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telestratosonic

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near deaf fellas like me always appreciate posting of lyrics along with the recording. i can hear your singing and playing just fine, but its enunciation that evades me... the first and last consonant of words are a struggle sometimes.
After a lifetime as a carpenter (15 years) and then as a boilermaker (20 years), I've lost some of my hearing in the higher frequencies. I wear these when I really want to hear.

Hmm, my enunciation. I came out west from Newfoundland over 40 years ago but I still have my 'Newfie' accent.That may be what you're hearing.
You should hear me after a few beers, lol.

Henceforth, I'll start posting lyrics with the songs. Thanks for the critique.
Jim
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