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Writing Lyrics: Formula or Freefall?

DonnaMarilyn

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There’s been a flurry of activity on the March Lyrics Contest thread. With occasional digressions, the discussion centred on 

1) whether the types of lyrics that win contests are formulaic, and

2) to what extent poetic devices (e.g. metaphors, etc.) play a role (or not). (For example, whether mainly poetic lyrics win the monthly contests.) 

 

A couple of posts from Neal K made me curious about the notion of a ‘winning’ formula, and whether, and to what extent and in which type of context – a particular 'formula' might appear to work optimally - in any kind of songwriting situation. With Neal’s permission, I’ve included excerpts below. Food for thought and discussion. 

 

I hope Musers will share here their own diverse approaches to writing lyrics.  

Any tips, tricks, or other magic you’d like us to know about?

 

Or any experiences of writing something you thought was brilliant but others disagreed? Or that you thought was utterly bleh, but people loved it?

For either situation, what do you think was the reason?

 

Over to you guys. :)

 

Donna

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Neal wrote:

Having run a few of these contests over the years, I started to wonder just how easy it would be to win. So … I decided to enter each monthly contest with a lyric I wrote specifically for the contest.  That meant, lyrics without writing music at the same time.   None of those lyrics ever became songs... except for the one that came in dead last.  

 

…The year was 2014 and I entered 11 of the 12 contests.  I came in first five times, second four times, fourth one time, and dead last one time.  I'm not saying this to boast.  Goodness knows I'm hardly a great lyric writer.  The point is, it's not that hard to win this contest if you 1) can identify the formula; and 2) can write to the formula without worrying if the words will ever be set to music.

 

… trust me, none of those lyrics were poetic or flowery.  I don't have that in me.  Here's the formula I followed in my 2014 experiment to win/place in the lyric contest: 1) Each lyric was story driven; 2) the story was easy to understand and to relate to; 3) they used imagery (show, don't tell); 4) there were no wasted words or forced rhymes; 5) they contained sympathetic characters that people could relate to and that I cared about; 6) each and every line had to work on its own; 6) each story had a resolution that was designed to elicit an emotion, be that happiness, sadness, joy, depression, etc.

 

That, my friend, is the formula.  I'm so confident that this works that I bet you I could coach you into placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in a future lyric contest.

................................................................................................... 

 

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19 hours ago, PaulCanuck said:

Well, let's flip things around a bit. Say you're a lyricist and I say to you - here's a backing track from Paul McCartney's "Yesterday". We're having a competition to see who can write the best lyrics for this backing track. Wouldn't you rather think that the backing track came from a brand new and creative composition? Even if you had never heard "Yesterday" before and were told that it was a famous and popular song, wouldn't you think "why can't we write lyrics to something new?" I know some lyricists use the technique to overcome writer's block but you're not really "creating" a painting by "painting over" a Picasso original. IMHO!

Unfortunately, it's easier for lyricists to get their hands on a backing track of Yesterday (and a wealth of other known originals) than it is a new and creative composition. If you know anyone who might have some lying around, please send them my way. :) 

 

To answer your question, of course lyricists interested in writing to music would prefer something original but those unicorns are few and far between. Most of my lyrics that eventually developed into songs, were not the result of me getting the opportunity to write them to someone else's backing track and melody. I could do more to seek them out I suppose, but I don't do what I do with the set idea of a lyric becoming a song because 1.) I simply enjoy the discipline it takes to write a good lyric and 2) I know how rarely that happens. Twenty five years into the hobby of lyric-writing (and hundreds of lyrics in various stages of completion) I have had only 30 some odd songs come out of it, none of which were a result of me shopping it around to anyone. To say I'm not motivated in that direction would be an understatement. Still, writing lyrics to backing tracks is challenging fun and I would like to do more of it, given it was dropped in my lap. 

 

If any beginning lyricist on this message board writes only in hopes of luring one of our fine musicians in, they are deluded. But, if they can learn all that can be gained by writing a lyric to existing music (original or not), they may improve, along with their chances of one day hearing one of their lyrics become a song. Not simply one forced into it through a collab contest but one that shines well enough to capture the attention of a musician. 

 

The better non-musician lyricist understands the mechanics of melody and musical composition along with the mechanics of structuring a lyric. I'm fortunate in that I can play a musical instrument (not expertly, but that's my own fault) and read music so I do understand those mechanics and can apply them. Lyricists without any musical background or ability to play an instrument will struggle unless they can find other ways of skinning that cat. Writing to familiar melodies (because they are so abundant) is one way. 

 

Going back to the suggestion for a challenge or contest where lyricists write new lyrics to a known original, then pass it on to a musician, I have to admit that the lyricist benefits most, if not entirely from this challenge. For the musician, it is just another lyric (good or bad) that isn't his/hers. That reason alone is adequate to justify a lack of interest on the musician's part, but to say the reason for not engaging lies in the fact that the lyric hasn't risen from the well of complete originality is to me, a bit odd, as there are  original lyrics floating around this place continuously which attract no interest either. Maybe they suck or maybe we are members of a community that enjoys a wealth of songwriting talent from musicians who write their own great lyrics, such as yourself. Stand alone lyrics are not exactly a sought after commodity around here.  

 

Pure lyricists are the red-headed stepchildren here. Bringing them into the fold is generally a solicited venture, though we can see it sometimes works out well when we listen to the songs in the current collab contest. Would I like to see more unsolicited collabs here? Sure thing. As much as I would like to see more musicians lend some of their backing tracks and melodies to lyricists interested in writing lyrics to them. 

 

But we are all here for different reasons and cooperation for the benefit of another cannot and should not be forced. I guess what I'm saying is, whatever your reasons for feeling as you do, the feelings are your own and deserve to be respected, even if they are not entirely understood. 

 

I'm afraid I went well beyond the scope of answering your question, taking the selfish opportunity to vent a little. I hope I haven't offended. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, Moso said:

Does anyone have examples to share, or can examples be made to (hopefully) put this to rest? 

@Moso, I've just remembered the second 'ghosted' lyric I wrote: 'If I Never Find That Heaven'.

 

And how on earth I forgot it temporarily is a mystery. :rolleyes: Because it won the October 2017 lyric contest and placed second in lyric of the year 2017. :P

 

It's not necessarily better than or even as good as the template. But 'ghosting' certainly helped me break through the writer's slump I was in, and freed me to express thoughts/feelings I'd wanted to put into words, but seemed unable to nail down just at that time.

 

Apart from two verse lines & one chorus line that have the same metering as the source text, the lyric is entirely different: structure/format, length, content, rhyme scheme, genre, tempo, everything, including of course the melody I have for it.

 

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4 hours ago, jonie said:

Unfortunately, it's easier for lyricists to get their hands on a backing track of Yesterday (and a wealth of other known originals) than it is a new and creative composition. If you know anyone who might have some lying around, please send them my way. :) 

 

 Most of my lyrics that eventually developed into songs, were not the result of me getting the opportunity to write them to someone else's backing track and melody.I was wondering how your collab situation worked as far as how your lyrics were put to music. I say this because it seemed like the couple I listened to seemed like the melody/performer was having issues in fitting your lyrics to the melody. Were they ever given any leeway as far as pruning or suggesting other words to your lyric(s)? I say this because I thought some of them lacked some cohesiveness.<_<

 

I could do more to seek them out I suppose, but I don't do what I do with the set idea of a lyric becoming a song because 1.) I simply enjoy the discipline it takes to write a good lyric That's true, but after you write that good lyric, you should go over it to see if it sings well.

 

2) I know how rarely that happens. Twenty five years into the hobby of lyric-writing (and hundreds of lyrics in various stages of completion) I have had only 30 some odd songs come out of it, 30 songs, thats impressive. I guess the song collab contests have served you well then.:) none of which were a result of me shopping it around to anyone. To say I'm not motivated in that direction would be an understatement. Still, writing lyrics to backing tracks is challenging fun and I would like to do more of it, given it was dropped in my lap. 

 

If any beginning lyricist on this message board writes only in hopes of luring one of our fine musicians in, they are deluded.I think most of the "beginner lyric writers" here are just finding out if they can write an inspired lyric. It doesnt have to be structurally perfect, just has to have a great plot and some catchy lines to show they have any innate talent in this field.

 

 Not simply one (a lyric) forced into it through a collab contest but one that shines well enough to capture the attention of a musician. Im glad you pointed this out. It's hard to write a song around a pre made lyric without the liberties to change anything much less a melody writer being saddled with a lyric that may not inspire him/her and it shows. Plus with a time limit for the contests, this constrains the potential of a song. Granted, its probably a good exercise if you wanted to be a Nashville writer because some songwriters will get tips on artists going into the recording studio and are looking for songs. The clock starts when the word gets out that an artist is going into the studio looking for songs. So, I do see the merit of the exercise and think it's wonderful that some of the writers have embraced this concept, but it's just not the way I would approach songwriting as a whole. Different strikes for different strokes.;)

 

The better non-musician lyricist understands the mechanics of melody and musical composition along with the mechanics of structuring a lyric. I'm fortunate in that I can play a musical instrument (not expertly, but that's my own fault) and read music so I do understand those mechanics and can apply them.This is a plus.

 

Lyricists without any musical background or ability to play an instrument will struggle unless they can find other ways of skinning that cat. Actually, this may be false since a lyricist is providing the subject to sing about is key in how it relates to the music. Structure and mechanics are important, but are so secondary to the art of the plot or subject being sung about. A writer has to capture a feeling or a creative essence of a subject...maybe a subject that has been covered a gazillion times, but is told in a certain way to make it seem brand new. That's a challenge and the art of songwriting from a lyrical viewpoint.

 

as there are  original lyrics floating around this place continuously which attract no interest either.As Alistair had mentioned some time ago, most of the lyrics in the feedback section are under developed or simply don't pass the inspiration test of making it to music. It is what it is...a site for beginners and novices alike. :) That being said, there have been some good to great lyrics posted, but the percentages will tell you that this is not a steady trend. And through the years I can say that there have been a handful of lyric writers that show some promise and the cream eventually does rise to the top. I gave kudos to Kimberlyric and Tams4 to name a few. So, the lyric feedback section does produce some quality. You just have to sift through chaff to get to it.

 

Maybe they suck If I were to say it this way, I would be getting horse whipped! Right Alistair?(just teasing):lol:But I agree with Joni on her assumption. If this was a pro site, we wouldnt be having this conversation. This is a site for beginners and novices to take the splash into a hobby they enjoy. There may be a few here that are experiencing some measurable success , but of those, most have that innate talent to begin with. You may step forward now Scenesfrompalacio:D  

or maybe we are members of a community that enjoys a wealth of songwriting talent from musicians who write their own great lyrics, such as yourself. Stand alone lyrics are not exactly a sought after commodity around here.  That is basically the fact of the matter. When Im in the beginning stages of writing a song, I dont think of a lyric writer I will be working with or want to work with. That's how many of us self contained novice artists approach songwriting.

Now that being said, in the professional world, there are lyric writers that have reputations that are sought after in the popular music world as well as country. And they are coveted because the good ones are not a dime a dozen and its hard to reach that status. Granted, you read some of the lyrics of the hit songs of today and go "I could of wrote that". True, but they did alot of writing and connections and with a stroke of luck got to the status where they are now. But many of those writers(especially in country) will tell you that they needed that first cut on a cd to get the ball rolling.

 

Pure lyricists are the red-headed stepchildren here ( I like red heads :P) Bringing them into the fold is generally a solicited venture, though we can see it sometimes works out well when we listen to the songs in the current collab contest. Would I like to see more unsolicited collabs here? Sure thing. As much as I would like to see more musicians lend some of their backing tracks and melodies to lyricists interested in writing lyrics to them. As some here look at their lyrics as their babies, songwriters with unfinished melodies feel the same. ;)Kinda like that mechanic who has that old 55 Chevy Bel aire up on blocks in the garage with the doors removed saying, "It may not look like much now, but I have plans for that beauty when I get around to it."  So, no it's not for sale.:lol:I think the lyric writers here should just concentrate on the craft of story telling. Everything else will fall into place once that is established.

 

But we are all here for different reasons and cooperation for the benefit of another cannot and should not be forced. I guess what I'm saying is, whatever your reasons for feeling as you do, the feelings are your own and deserve to be respected, even if they are not entirely understood. 

 

I'm afraid I went well beyond the scope of answering your question, taking the selfish opportunity to vent a little. I hope I haven't offended. I don't think you have Joni. Just expressing a viewpoint from a lyric writer here at the Muse. And I just added to the conversation from a viewpoint of a novice songwriter.:P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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42 minutes ago, R-N-R Jim said:

I'm afraid I went well beyond the scope of answering your question, taking the selfish opportunity to vent a little. I hope I haven't offended. I don't think you have Joni. Just expressing a viewpoint from a lyric writer here at the Muse. And I just added to the conversation from a viewpoint of a novice songwriter.:P

I meant, I hope I hadn't offended Paul. 

 

And to set the record straight, only a small handful of the songs I've collaborated on have been products of a collab contest. The rest were picked up, unsolicited. Some musicians didn't allow me to make lyrical changes to fit the melody, where such a thing was needed, though I might have liked it if they had. Having said that, most of them didn't require any give and take. For those that did need it, I came to the conclusion that, as I never asked them to put music to my lyric, it was not my place to tell them what to do with it.  Even then, the lyrics themselves were not necessarily poorly written, though I've written my share of clunkers, to be sure. 

 

I'm not married to my Muse, Jim. I write enough and have written enough decent - to great lyrics (though you, as a non-lyricist may not agree or the subject matter or style are not to your taste) that I don't have to sweat if a song is created from one that isn't phrased as intended or vocally stressed correctly. Where there was a back and forth, changes were made to accommodate the melody the musician had created. I don't know how many collaborations with lyricists you've had, but you surely must know that, in an effective collaboration the starting lyric is rarely the final version in a song. It takes good communication between the two partners and a mutual desire to create the best song, no matter how many lyrical babies are murdered in the process. 

 

I regard the rest of your comments as your opinion, which you can have as they are indisputably your own. Facts however, are not up for grabs. 

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4 hours ago, jonie said:

I meant, I hope I hadn't offended Paul. 

 

And to set the record straight, only a small handful of the songs I've collaborated on have been products of a collab contest.Oh, okay, I haven't been around enough here to disdain between the two since I did see your lyric in the collab contest.:P

 

The rest were picked up, unsolicited. Good for you.

Some musicians didn't allow me to make lyrical changes to fit the melody, where such a thing was needed, though I might have liked it if they had. Ahhh...see that's the difficulty of collaborating. I would never allow a lyric writer to call or use a version they like that I did not like or agree to as a finished product into the public domain. Input is so important in the creation of a song. If you don't speak up of whats bothering you about a section in the song, then how is your collaborator suppose to know the vision of the song? Your depiction of some of your writing relationships almost sound like planned marriages between two uninterested participants. That's no way to write and is doomed right from the start.

 

Having said that, most of them didn't require any give and take. For those that did need it, I came to the conclusion that, as I never asked them to put music to my lyric, it was not my place to tell them what to do with it.That's where your wrong. I thought these lyrics were your babies.:o :P

Even then, the lyrics themselves were not necessarily poorly written, though I've written my share of clunkers, to be sure.We've all been there.:P

 

I'm not married to my Muse, Jim. I write enough and have written enough decent - to great lyrics (though you, as a non-lyricist may not agree or the subject matter or style are not to your taste) that I don't have to sweat if a song is created from one that isn't phrased as intended or vocally stressed correctly. That's why you have to study the tendencies of who you're writing with. Maybe the lyric for the collab contests partner you end up with isn't the style you need to pull off that lyric you would like to see get fitted to music. You might want to save that for the next person you collab with in the next month's contest, if your lucky.

 

Where there was a back and forth, changes were made to accommodate the melody the musician had created. I don't know how many collaborations with lyricists you've had, but you surely must know that, in an effective collaboration the starting lyric is rarely the final version in a song. It takes good communication between the two partners and a mutual desire to create the best song, no matter how many lyrical babies are murdered in the process. It would appear by your statements about your collabs that this happens often?

 

I regard the rest of your comments as your opinion, which you can have as they are indisputably your own. Facts however, are not up for grabs. Keep or sweep.:P

 

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Jim,

 

I realise you aren't good with words and, therefore, I try to extend some latitude (for example, by "disdain", I assume you meant "discern" ... and every post you make is littered with numerous other examples) but there appears to be something more at play here. You also, by your own admission, have little experience in collaborations and lyrics are hardly your strength. So, I have to ask you, what's the deal here?

 

You appear to go out of your way to be condescending, almost insulting, in a way that appears (to me) passive-aggressive. It isn't necessary and, frankly, you aren't coming across well.

 

Now, I am trying to be tolerant because Jonie is my wife and I don't want to seem partisan - but she is also a Muse member and she shouldn't be a safe target because of our relationship. 

 

This is the kind of thing I was asking you about earlier. 

 

If you have a problem, just come out and say it - or get over the snarkiness, please!

 

Thank you.

 

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11 hours ago, Alistair S said:

Jim,

 

I realise you aren't good with words and, therefore, I try to extend some latitude (for example, by "disdain", I assume you meant "discern" Sorry, you are correct, my high school education is failing me :o.Or is it age creeping in? I'll try harder in my grammar next time.:D

 

.. and every post you make is littered with numerous other examples) but there appears to be something more at play here. You also, by your own admission, have little experience in collaborations and lyrics are hardly your strength. So, I have to ask you, what's the deal here? I wouldn't know what you're getting at. :huh:I have had a couple collabs and at any rate I felt they turned out alright. I dont think you have to have a ton of collabs under your belt to know what works or what doesnt work for you. The bottom line is the outcome of a song regardless of it being a collab or not.

 

You appear to go out of your way to be condescending, almost insulting, in a way that appears (to me) passive-aggressive. It isn't necessary and, frankly, you aren't coming across well.Point out the insults please. I didnt realize I was insulting somebody. If anybody comes off insulting is the way Joni describes her questionable collabs.:huh: Talk about throwing people under the bus. :ph34r:Who would want to collab with her if she thought her lyrics wouldn't carry some of the brunt of the blame for a poor song?:huh: I mean she ended her post with the words "venting". Doesn't sound too neutral to me.<_<

 

Now, I am trying to be tolerant because Jonie is my wife and I don't want to seem partisan - but she is also a Muse member and she shouldn't be a safe target because of our relationship. She can easily be read the wrong way too. But then again...

 

This is the kind of thing I was asking you about earlier. I have no scores to settle. If she prefers that I dont leave comments about her lyrics or blog entries, I am much obliged to ignore her if that is the way she feels. I only returned the favor of critiquing one of her lyrics after she had critiqued a lyric I was working on for a song with my band. In the past I generally avoided critiquing her lyrics because I felt whatever I may have suggested would never relate to her style of writing. The fact that she recently went out of her way to critique my lyric was fine. I felt as though I had to in kind return the favor. Again, if she doesnt see my critiques as a positive thing, she can PM me to not critique her lyrics and I will have no problem skipping over them. The fact that she would write a song about drinking after reviewing my "Drink To Forget" lyric is kind of a coincidence? :P

 

If you have a problem, just come out and say it - or get over the snarkiness, please! I dont believe I have exhibited any. :huh:Did she feel that maybe my comments upstaged her viewpoints? They weren't supposed to. They were suppose to educate her on why some people are not interested in collabing or even a different avenue why the collab contests are relevant to some and not to others. Also...sometimes if someone has a viewpoint of someone, be it past experiences from years ago, I can understand why a person may take everything with a negative slant. I have sent you a PM if you have any other concerns.

 

Thank you.

Your welcome

 

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I sure do hope more lyricists will join in here. :ph34r:  Meanwhile, I thought I'd throw in a few titles of books I found to be useful when I was starting out (and I often refer back to them).

Basically, anything by Pat Pattison and/or Sheila Davies is worth having on your shelf.

For absolute beginners, check out 'Songwriting for Dummies' by Austin, Peterik, and Lynn. Useful information on the functions of each section in a lyric. (I think it's available as well online in pdf form.)

Specific books by Pattison include:

Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming

Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure

 

Rikky Rooksby

Lyrics: Writing Better Words for Your Songs

Melody: How to Write Great Tunes (for those of you who also play an instrument)

Jack Perricone

Melody in Songwriting

 

Other names spring to mind.

Jason Blume ('Inside Songwriting: Getting to the Heart of Creativity')

Andrea Stolpe

Ralph Murray (excellent website)

Pat Pattison also has a very good website.

 

Often books can be picked up second-hand on Amazon quite cheaply. The BookDepository in the UK also carries thousands of  titles, and often at lower prices than Amazon. And they ship items free internationally. 

 

If you have any books or sites you'd like to recommend, please do. :)

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, HoboSage said:

Alistair . .  ouch?  <heh-heh>  :)

His role as Muse ended the first time I had to do his laundry. He now serves as sounding board and editorial adviser. I think he's happy with the arrangement. 

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I've browsed through a couple of books on how to write good lyrics and made it about half way through one of Pat's online seminars. Not any sort of credential or a dismissal of them on a whole, just blunt honesty. How-To books and seminars that drone on humorlessly where everyone gets in a virtual room to discuss their progress bores me to tears.  

 

I do however, make it my business (when I can) to watch interviews with songwriters. Alistair bought "Isle of Noise" a few months ago (Interviews with British songwriters) that I have been meaning to pick up and read.  I believe the interviews are also on podcast. 

 

 

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Art of Noise is an excellent read. I do enjoy re-reading chapters of that when I need a little encouragement. I Iave mentioned this before, but would always highly recommend the Sodajerker podcast, it is the best resource I have yet to find on songwriting.

 

Must be noted however that these are very different from a "how to write a song" lessons that many of the aforementioned books are. These delve more into the questions of where do good songs come from and how do different writers grab ideas from the air and turn them into songs.

 

Personally I read a few books, including Pattison, but they really didn't help me, I struggle to use any of the ideas and insights they give. I know I need to read them more, but reading about doing stuff really bores me compared to just doing stuff! ;-)

 

I will be honest and say recording and posting songs on here is a far more valuable method of improving than any book.

 

 

 

 

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Jonie and murphster, thanks for that input. :) Also for mention of 'Art of Noise'  Isle of Noise and the Sodajerker podcast. 

 

I realise it's 'different strokes for different folks' as regards books. :) I personally have gained a great deal from my reading, and have loved and benefitted from the insights and the challenges of applying various techniques that have been presented.  Heck, my whole life has revolved around books on one topic or another, so of course I'm biased towards books. But I heartily agree that the actual recording and posting of songs - and getting feedback - is a valuable - probably the ultimate - learning experience. 

 

But for those writers among us - new or seasoned - who enjoy reading about the craft as well, there are books aplenty. ;) 

 

Also interesting are books by songwriters, such as the one by Jimmy Webb, where he discusses his writing, and specific songs. Paul Zollo's 'Songwriters on Songwriting' is also a good read.

 

For beginning writers, 'starter' books that discuss the basis elements of a lyric can be very useful. 

 

 

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9 hours ago, DonnaMarilyn said:

Jonie and murphster, thanks for that input. :) Also for mention of 'Art of Noise' and the Sodajerker podcast. 

In case anyone is looking for it - the book is Isle of Noise (Art of Noise is a band :) ) . 

 

I've listened to a few of the sodajerker podcasts and I'd agree with Murphster - a very good listen!

 

While we all need some theory and some language to help structure our thinking, I'm another who hasn't found books too helpful (often illustrative, yes, but no one book stands out). I guess I just prefer to dive into the concrete experience learning style (feeling) quickly - rather than spending much time on the thinking, watching and reflecting aspects. I like to just do stuff!

 

I would recommend that lyricists do read, though - and I don't just mean books on songwriting or music. Read everything! Except maybe Dan Brown - a line has to be drawn somewhere :)    

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1 hour ago, Alistair S said:

In case anyone is looking for it - the book is Isle of Noise (Art of Noise is a band :) ) . 

 

Oops. Yes, of course! Haha. Isle of Noise.

 

I used to quite like Art of Noise back in the day. 

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7 hours ago, Alistair S said:

In case anyone is looking for it - the book is Isle of Noise (Art of Noise is a band :) ) . 

 

I've listened to a few of the sodajerker podcasts and I'd agree with Murphster - a very good listen!

 

While we all need some theory and some language to help structure our thinking, I'm another who hasn't found books too helpful (often illustrative, yes, but no one book stands out). I guess I just prefer to dive into the concrete experience learning style (feeling) quickly - rather than spending much time on the thinking, watching and reflecting aspects. I like to just do stuff!

 

I would recommend that lyricists do read, though - and I don't just mean books on songwriting or music. Read everything! Except maybe Dan Brown - a line has to be drawn somewhere :)    

Thanks for that correction, Alistair. And I'm going to check out Sodajerker right now. 

 

I imagine the population is divided roughly into those who consider books to be a valuable resource in their learning process (in whatever craft or hobby), and those who don't. ;) Neither group is right or wrong, as can be seen clearly even in the microcosm of this forum. ;) Bottom line: We each keep doing what works best for us to get our lyrics/songs to where we want them. ;) 

 

About books in general: Absolutely! And don't forget poetry (the good stuff, old and new). For you folks in the US, one of your own former poet laureates, Ted Kooser, is well worth reading. He's also written a fine book on writing: 'The Poetry Home Repair Manual'. I find it applies to lyrics as well. 

 

And if you like to write Nature-related lyrics/songs, any book by Mary Oliver is a must. The imagery in her poems is exquisite.

For example, 'Wild Geese'. At a certain level of competence - which grows with practice - there's nothing to stop us writing a singable, compelling, universal lyric having this type and level of detail.

 
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

 

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Fall

 

The geese flying south
In a row long and V-shaped
Pulling in winter.

 

--Sally Andersen

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