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Writing simpler lyrics

Discussion in 'The Writers' Block' started by thesamhill, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I want to write some lyrics to some songs I wrote but I can't get shifted into a low-key mindset.

    Everything always has to be clever and have implications and meaning. I'm sick of my own s###. I feel like Bluto is about to wander into my room in a toga and smash my guitar.

    My current ideals:

    Rock around the Clock: We are planning to rock. Here's the itinerary.
    Running down a Dream: I'm driving. It's nice.
    Waitin for the Bus: I waited for the bus. It was full.
    Tutti Frutti: A whop bop a lu ba whop bam boo

    Any thoughts on how you get in a mindset where you can dial back the doo-dah and just write something low key and enjoyable?
     
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  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Read some Raymond Carver poetry.

    Example:

    Bobber

    On the Columbia River near Vantage,
    Washington, we fished for whitefish
    in the winter months; my dad, Swede-
    Mr. Lindgren-and me. They used belly-reels,
    pencil-length sinkers, red, yellow, or brown
    flies baited with maggots.
    They wanted distance and went clear out there
    to the edge of the riffle.
    I fished near shore with a quill bobber and a cane pole.

    My dad kept his maggots alive and warm
    under his lower lip. Mr. Lindgren didn't drink.
    I liked him better than my dad for a time.
    He lets me steer his car, teased me
    about my name "Junior," and said
    one day I'd grow into a fine man, remember
    all this, and fish with my own son.
    But my dad was right. I mean
    he kept silent and looked into the river,
    worked his tongue, like a thought, behind the bait.​
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
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  3. JoesTele

    JoesTele Tele-Holic

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    Lyrics are the hardest part of a song. Few reasons why:

    1. We have all heard Dylan, Lennon, Morrissey, Joe Strummer.... Hell, I can never do what they do.

    2. Some of us might not have anything at all to say. Nothing original.

    3. We do try to be clever and sharp and deep. We think that's what lyrics should be. And that causes us to stumble.

    4. And if we try to be goofy and stupid, we are no match for the brilliant stupidity of "Surfing Bird." Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba oooh ma mao mao, ba ba oooh mao amo mao


    You can't win as a lyric writer. We all try to force things too much. Never comes out right. Believe it or not, get a little kid to write your lyrics. They don't know any better. They are uninhibited. Getting a kid to write the lyrics worked for the theme for M*A*S*H - lyrics written by a junior high school kid. I have a song called "Summer's Here" -- an eight year old wrote the lyrics. They are brilliant in their simplicity. Example:

    Summer's starting
    No more school.
    Now it's time
    To go in the pool.

    I'm telling you the youthful innocence and simplicity of those lyrics perfectly captures the idea that summer's here. Plus he got the rhyme right.
     
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  4. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My older son wrote these lyrics when he was 5
     
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  5. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Ha! Once I wrote a song that was basically just paraphrasing the short story “Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes.” It was okay I guess. I was 24 probably 24, can’t fix THAT.

    Here’s a decent simple song I wrote that is just about how summer is nice:

    Summer’s coming and I’m feeling good
    Oh the hot sunshine - I love that
    Everybody’s having so much fun
    I’m telling you I love the summertime
    I’m telling you I love the sun

    In the morning I get on my bike
    Ride across town
    In the evening I relax my mind
    Then I’m coming home as the sun goes down
    I’m telling you I love the summertime

    Don’t it get hot in the south?
    The world is exploding, and we’re coming out

    Oh lord I love those summer nights
    I love a big bonfire
    Cooking out and drinking beers
    I’m telling you I love the summertime
    I’m telling you I love it here



    Pretty sure I wrote this walking to work. It was about a mile and a half. Maybe you should walk to work? Kidding but also not.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
  6. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Ouch, I think Raymond Carver's maybe shooting a bit high... :) I knows quality when I sees it. He's prosaic but deceptively not simple.

    Yeah, maybe it's like the punk style. The Ramones kind of did something similar. Or like, Shipping off to Boston. I lost my wooden leg. I need to go find it. That's about the whole song.

    I have a whole bunch of things I don't want. I don't want to be overcomplicated, I don't want to be whiny. I don't want to be skeevy.

    But Im not sure there's anything I DO want, except to have lyrics that I can actually remember while I'm playing the song and that I don't dislike.

    Maybe I can just make that my mission statement.

    One thing I do constantly is screw up lyrics. I get dumb songs stuck in my head, forget the words, forget how the melody goes and just make up new words based on whatever is in my head. I can maybe use some of those lyrics for my own songs.
     
  7. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    That's the lad: set your expectations high.
     
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  8. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Holic

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    Sounds to me like you know what you are doing as a songwriter just having difficulty shifting your mindset.

    Try this:

    1) Get drunk.
    2) Write lyrics about the love that got away and broke your heart. Wallow in it. Don't analyze the lyrics just let the emotions overflow.
    3) Write lyrics about the love that got away and set you free. Revel in it. Don't analyze the lyrics just let the emotions overflow.
    Focus on the base emotions and eschew all reason or intellect.
    4) Now throw those two songs away and carry your adjusted mindset over to the songs you want to write.
    5) Next time try it without the alcohol.
     
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  9. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I'm seriously terrible at remembering lyrics. That's actually a pretty ludicrous goal right there.



    Yeah- this is exactly the issue. Now that I'm looking straight at that perception within myself, I'm realizing that it's pretty strongly rooted too.

    Something else I realized is that I only really pay attention to lyrics- like read them and ponder them- when they strike me as meaningful or clever. I don't necessarily have a problem with lyrics that aren't meaningful, I just don't actively think about them. I'm sure there's more to the songs I'm thinking of as "simple" than I'm giving them credit for.



    Or we have other ways to say whatever we have to say, that work better for us.

    That's kind of where I'm at with this. I get lots of chances to express deep thoughts in my day job. I already admitted to myself that I can't watch deep movies or shows in my down time because it's too much like work and it burns me out. I'm probably just feeling the same way about lyrics, so maybe getting past that "lyrics should be meaningful" perception will open things up.



    True. But since I'm going to fall short of brilliance no matter what... :)
     
  10. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I think I will try that!

    But part of this is about just getting out of my own damn head. So maybe I can do exactly what you suggested, except substitute the word "fish" for the word "love"?
     
  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Aim high!

    For an example of lyrics writing, I like The Talking Heads. Lyrics about everything and nothing.
     
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  12. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Not that I'm a great songwriter, but sometimes all you need is one memorable line, the rest can be fluff. I tend to react to overused cliches and reuse them in ironic ways. Crap, that actually rhymed. I better write that down. And for the chorus, here's a good one:

    All night long (all night long)
    All night long (all night long)
    All night long (all night long)
    All night long (all night long)

    The trouble I have with the "all night long" concept is (rewinding to earlier days when something like that was a consideration) is that I AM gonna have to get a little nap in there somewhere.
     
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  13. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Afflicted

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    Descriptive is safer than prescriptive. Leave holes enough to allow the listener room to come to their own conclusions.
    A picture is worth a thousand words. Paint us a picture with words you get to choose.
    Invite us, trick us, or seduce us to see something right beneath our noses, or long ago in a galaxie far away, perhaps for the first time in our lives.
    Best to avoid songs that you can't deliver convicingly. Unless you have a contract with Taylor Swift or something.
     
  14. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    NO! Phthbbb!


    I think that's the kind of thing I need to figure out how to put into lyrics. For now though, here's a haiku instead:

    After work, before dinner, in a recliner
    Eyes filled up with sun,
    Fan noise lures my thoughts from me.
    Soft alights my nap.
     
  15. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I take inspiration from Kinky Friedman's first song. He wrote it when he was eleven:

    "Ol' Ben Lucas"

    Ol' Ben Lucas had a lot of mucus
    Comin' right out of his nose.
    He picked and picked till it made you sick,
    But back again it grows.​

    I have no problem with clever. Or concise.
     
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  16. chulaivet1966

    chulaivet1966 Tele-Afflicted

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    Well....that verse certainly had some imagery.
    Of course it's of no matter what I think but flows would have catered better to the verse's context. :)

    (Actually, I responded merely to ask you where you acquired your 'talent pedal'?....I just might get a 2-pack)

    Carry on....
     
  17. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well, yeah, but, I mean, lookit, he was eleven.

    When I was about eleven I wrote:

    Things have gone
    from bad to worse.
    Fire the nurse.
    Hire a hearse.​

    The New Yorker rejected it. Today, in the year of 2020 hindsight, I'd say the Kinkster had it over me hands down.

    Talent pedal? I'm still using training wheels!
     
  18. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    yeah: sing as you play, and only write it down afterwards

    even better: sing as you clap in rhythm, record it, and then put chords to it
     
  19. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Actually, I've only heard Dylan and Lennon.

    Then I got sentenced to the dilithium mines of Rura Penthe . . . .
     
  20. Dreadnut

    Dreadnut Friend of Leo's

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    Write! Write! Write! Write! Write! Don't critique, just write.

    Then, critique and Revise! Revise! Revise! Revise! Revise!

    These are they keys to any good writing. Critiquing my own work is the toughest thing to do because naturally I believe I've just written the perfect song.
     
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