Songwriting - List

A Songwriter’s List

Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting ProcessIf you want to be a better lyricist, putting lyrics at the top of your songwriting agenda is a crucial first step. Read “Use Your Words! Developing a Lyrics-First Songwriting Process.” Right now, it’s free with your purchase of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle”


Let’s say you’re in the market to buy a house. The real estate agent asks you what features you’re looking for. You’re likely to mention location first — that’s such an important consideration. And then, of course, the size of house you need.

“We need a 4-bedroom house, preferably somewhere near the city, but close enough to the country to make outings easy.”

Sure, that’s no problem. Everyone looking for a house is going to mention size and location.

Then we get to the bits that reflect personal taste.

“I’ve always wanted a fireplace. A nice big stone fireplace for those chilly evenings.”

Eventually you’ll find the house that suits your needs. It may need some work, and it may not have everything you’ve hoped for, but if you’ve placed importance on the fact that it should have 4 bedrooms, be just outside the city, and have a fireplace, I know this much: it will probably have 4 bedrooms, will probably be just outside the city, and will probably have an amazing fireplace.

Because those are the things you put at the top of your list. Those were the things that were important.

In songwriting, you may not know it, but you’ve also got a list. Your own musical style and approach to writing will dictate what your songs’ most important features are, and they’ll be the features that are at the top of your list.

If you find that lyrics, let’s say, are the part of your songs that, upon reflection, never seem to sound very good, think about it: have you ever put lyrics front and centre in your songwriting process? Have lyrics been at the top of your list?

Leonard Cohen is known for his lyrics. But that makes sense: he was a poet. His lyrics probably meant more to him than any other aspect of his writing. For Leonard, words were his “nice big stone fireplace.”

For whatever else his songs might have, the words were going to be their most important feature, because they were at the top of his list.

If you’ve ever wanted lyrics to be more meaningful and powerful, you’ve got to place that feature at the top of your list. Lyrics can’t be an afterthought. There needs to be a spotlight that you shine on the lyric-writing process.

Once you’ve placed lyrics at the top of your list, it feels natural to begin with lyrics. Develop a lyrics-first songwriting process, and you’ll find that, song by song, what you say through your words gets better, more effective, and more powerful.

And that goes for any song feature that you wish you did just a little better. Place it at the top of your list, give it your attention, and you’ll be amazed what that one small act does for your songwriting.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter

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