Expecting an audience to respond to your emotions won’t usually work.
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One of the most common errors that beginner songwriters commit is that they describe their emotions at the expense of describing a story. By describing emotions, I’m talking about situations where a verse launches in with a “I feel so fantastic” kind of lyric, without telling the audience anything else.
The problem with that is that people relate to people and their stories. They don’t mind hearing someone’s emotional outpouring, but they react better to it if there is a story behind it. In other words, disembodied emotions that seem to come from nowhere leave an audience feeling frustrated.
In this sense, we’re probably talking more about song verses than choruses, because if you spend your verse describing something, it’s quite possible to spend the chorus emoting. They’ve heard the background in the verse, and now the chorus emotion makes perfect sense.
That’s why Paul McCartney’s “My Love” works so well. He gives us something to picture, something to imagine, in the verse:
And when the cupboard’s bare,
I’ll still find something there with my love;
It’s understood , it’s everywhere with my love
He sets up a “we’re in this together, through good times and bad” relationship. It’s so easy to picture, and so easy to relate to. Then the chorus need do nothing more than:
Wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo , my love does it good.
If you feel that your songs just aren’t connecting with the listener, take a closer look at how you’ve crafted the emotional build. If you find that you’re describing emotions without giving a back story of any description, you’ve probably just found the cause of the problem.
If that’s the case, the easy solution is get back to the verse and find ways to offer more of a story. Allow the audience to generate their emotions from something you’re telling them.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
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