John Mellencamp

Verse Lyrics, Chorus Lyrics, and the Concept of Time

You likely know that verse lyrics tend to describe people, places and situations, and is the part of your song that tells the story. Sometimes it’s a literal story, and sometimes it’s just images that get placed together, helping to set up the chorus and the deeper emotions that happen there. Chorus lyrics don’t have […]

John Legend

The Rhythm of the Chorus Hook: It Matters

Even if a song’s chorus hook happens by pure musical instinct, there are several characteristics that are usually present in most of them: They’re rhythmically interesting. It’s usually a short, catchy melodic idea that’s easy for a listener to remember. The chords are simple and tonally strong (they strongly imply the key of the chorus). […]

Guitar - piano

Songwriting: Hiding the Good Stuff

When you hear a song that you really like, what is it that you like about it? The answer probably changes from song to song. It might be the way the melody sounds for one song, while for another it might be the lyrics. But those are superficial characteristics. (I don’t use the word superficial […]

Neil Young

Borrowing Ideas From Other Writers’ Songs

John Lennon tells the story that Yoko was playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano and he asked her to play the chords backwards. From that reversed performance he composed his song “Because”, from The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album. I’ve listened to Moonlight Sonata many times, including listening to it backwards (on YouTube you can find […]

Songwriter

Five Steps to Making Words Singable

Do you find it reasonably easy to write words (lyrics, poetry, etc.), but when you try to create songs with those words, everything sounds corny, random, and just plain bad? You read the words, and they sound just fine; you try singing them, and they sound a bit lame. The best songwriters are best because of […]

Songwriting

You’ve Got a Chorus Hook, But What Now?

It’s quite normal to come up with a catchy chorus hook as a first step in your songwriting process, since the hook contains elements that are easily sung, played and remembered. But once that hook has been developed, you might find that your creative mind lets you down: what do you do next? If you’re trying […]