Writing Lyrics

Rewording a Sentence to Find a Lyrical Gem

Coming up with song ideas is hard. You start down a path and then you realize that whatever you thought your song was going to be about is just leading to dead ends. There are lots of ways to stimulate your imagination. Sometimes just picking up a pencil and writing, stream-of-consciousness-style, can yield surprisingly good […]

Songwriter writing lyrics

Does Good Grammar Matter in a Song Lyric?

It’s not hard to find songs that use slang or grammatical and spelling “errors” in the title or lyric. Lots of “ain’t”, “gonna”, and also a lot of dropped g’s as in Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’”. I occasionally get messages or emails from songwriters asking what I think of grammatical correctness in a […]

Songwriting imagery

Creating a More Effective Song Lyric With Imagery

I like to think of imagery as any lyric that seems to create more pictures in the mind than what you’d normally expect from so few words. A quick example: “The trees glowed as the moon shone brightly” describes a scene in a literal way, but… “The trees, bathed in moonlight…” gives us the same […]

songwriter

Writing a Song, Then Deciding What It’s About Later

If you’re at all familiar with Classical music, you may be aware that some of the world’s most famous symphonies have nicknames. Haydn’s symphonies are especially famous in this regard: his “Surprise” symphony (No. 94) and his Symphony #83, the “Hen,” the theme for which was reminiscent of a hen scratching. In most cases, the […]

Townes Van Zandt

Major with a Minor Flavour: Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty”

Townes Van Zandt was a highly respected singer-songwriter whose songs were covered by some of the world’s biggest names — Willie Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris, Merle Haggard and others. There’s a quiet kind of contemplative sound to his music and draws the audience in; they make you listen. Van Zandt’s most well-known song is “Pancho […]

Writing word lists for song lyrics

Creating Word Lists: It Can Give You More Than Lyric Ideas

If you find that writing lyrics takes you a long time, creating word lists can be a big help. By building lists of words, you’re creating a vocabulary that speeds up the process of trying to find the right words: they’re probably all there in front of you, somewhere in your list. Word lists can […]