Jump to content
Alistair

How candid are you in your lyrics?

Recommended Posts

Alistair    77

Hmmm...I wondered how the rest of you lyricists addressed this one.

Often, when I write a song, people ask me whether it is autobiographical and rarely believe me if I say it isn't, even when it genuinely is not. Yet to an extent everything I write has my own perspective in it even if it is not actually written from my own experience.

So, when I am writing I have to bear in mind that some people listen very carefully to the lyrics and will read all kinds of things into them that may or may not be there. This has led me to be a bit cautious in how I write: I mean, I don't want to bare my soul so much that people assume they know everything about me and my relationships or reveal things I want to keep to myself. Does anyone else have this dilemma about what to put in and what to leave out, or do you just say 'what the hell'?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nightwolf    56

I just write what comes out, sometimes it's personal, sometimes it's just to be dramatic, sometimes it's from someone elses point of view. Sometimes I ask myself, "how would I feel if I was in this situation"?

Read into it or not is up to you. If it makes you think that's a bonus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mudknot    0

Well, I write lots about my feelings and experiences. If they are songs that I wouldn't want people to look at, then I won't post them. But, when I write so many songs that I run out of experiences to write about, then I can watch a movie or have a dream or read a book and I'm bound to write about it. Most of the time I just put myself in that person's shoes and write about what I would feel or do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
olivejuice3    0

i usually approach it as "what the hell" Writing songs is a form of art and with art, sometimes even the artist cannot fully comprehend it. So to read too much into songs and their relationship with the author is silly. Of course everyone is human, thus naturally nosey about EVERYTHING, so what can you do? :-[

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nigel lawry    2

i think it works better if you sprinkle a little of yourself into the mix..nobody has to know which part is you or imagined by you..

[smiley=drums.gif]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rudi    587
i think it works better if you sprinkle a little of yourself into the mix..nobody has to know which part is you or imagined by you..

[smiley=drums.gif]

Well said Nigel. I used to be very concerned when I was a younger writter and revealed nothing personal. The writting only began to come good when I did make it personal. There is an essential truth in all of it now I think. A few songs have been very specific. I posted up BUTCHERS HOOK here about a year ago; that even had real names and events in it.

Sometimes its a borrowed experience, sometimes observational stuff. I hope I would not be too embarrassed to write about anything that wanted writting.

As for Al, think yourself lucky people are listening that closely! No-one hears much detail of my stuff.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alistair    77
Well said Nigel. I used to be very concerned when I was a younger writter and revealed nothing personal. The writting only began to come good when I did make it personal. There is an essential truth in all of it now I think. A few songs have been very specific. I posted up BUTCHERS HOOK here about a year ago; that even had real names and events in it.

Sometimes its a borrowed experience, sometimes observational stuff. I hope I would not be too embarrassed to write about anything that wanted writting.

As for Al, think yourself lucky people are listening that closely! No-one hears much detail of my stuff.

I think the debate is becoming more polarised than I meant it too. I'm not for one second saying that I don't put my personal feelings and perspectives into my stuff - of course, I do - that's about all that is in it but I'm trying to get at whether there is a line that you might not cross and if you have ever recognised that line, what did you do?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rudi    587
think the debate is becoming more polarised than I meant it too. I'm not for one second saying that I don't put my personal feelings and perspectives into my stuff - of course, I do - that's about all that is in it but I'm trying to get at whether there is a line that you might not cross and if you have ever recognised that line, what did you do?

I have posted up stuff here that I thought was 'over the line'. I remember well the almost universal disapproval I got for 'Small Titted Woman' on this board. Its one of my better songs too.

However, that is nothing compared to what Randy Newman has written (Try 'Gods Song' or 'Rednecks'). It can take courage to express certain things, even if you are writting from the point of view of someone else. With music in general, I think you have to take courage and have the stomach for the occasional backlash.

In summation, cross the line and damn the torpedos!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hope4Peace    2

The whole reason I write IS to bear my soul. I want to let it all out. I dont like to really straight out tell people how I feel, and even when I try, more times than not, they dont understand anyways, so its my way to convey whats on the inside in a way thats alot easier. Other than a recent few songs, I never really cencored myself much when it comes to revealing too much. That one on the other hand, In one song, I actually re-wrote a line to keep the real topic a bit blurry. But I probably wouldnt even write at all if I couldnt bear all my heart and soul into it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mudknot    0
i usually approach it as "what the hell" Writing songs is a form of art and with art, sometimes even the artist cannot fully comprehend it. So to read too much into songs and their relationship with the author is silly. Of course everyone is human, thus naturally nosey about EVERYTHING, so what can you do? :-[

Sometimes some beutiful and inspiring stories can come from reading too much into songs. I never will write anything that I don't feel can tell a story or to try to inspire someone or something I don't feel strongly about, which is why these assignments are tricky, even for the one who gives the lessons!

Edited by Mudknot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mexicoon    0

Does Multiple Personalities Count As Auto Biographical?

I Dont Have MPD But When I Wirte Lyrics That Feeling Or Feelings Enter Me, And Rarely Leave Afterwards, i Have To Coax Them Out, Sounds Liek Dramatic, But Its True, If The SOng Is Depressing, then Im Depressed, Truly Depressed, If It Is Violent I Want To Go Out And Hurt Someone, If It Is Emotional, Im Emotional, And So

And I Love To Over Exadurate, I Mean Come On, If We All Told The Truth To A Complete Account Of History, We Would Probly Feel We'd Have Blander Lives Or Something

So Does That Count As I Am Writing BAout Myself Even Though It Never Happened To Me, Like Heartbreak, Ive Never Been In Love, but I Hope I Can Write About It And Thinking ABout What A Person In Your Shoes Would Feel, While Inlove Isnt Good Enough, You Have To Feel Inlove, Well I Do Atleast

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nightwolf    56

Well said, I'm the same way. I guess they are all parts of my personality, just amplified and focused. Great Point :thumb23:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Masterman    1

I have the greatest respect for artists who wear their heart on their sleeve. I have to say I have not always showed the same courage myself and I have nothing but admiration for people who put themselves out there like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mayeast    0
I have the greatest respect for artists who wear their heart on their sleeve. I have to say I have not always showed the same courage myself and I have nothing but admiration for people who put themselves out there like that.

thank you :yahoo: My sleeve is more heart than sleeve. The way I protect myself from listener psychoanalyising is by wait time. I will never share a song with anyone but a few people after I have just written it.

I don't really have to wonder about crossing a line because I write love songs. I don't write songs to put other people down because my theory is that what we see in others is a reflection of ourselves.

For every song that can be written with hatred, pettiness and vitriol,[smiley=pikachusgoodbye.gif] there is another much stronger and more honest song that can be written with vunerability and compassion. :guitarplay2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
James    0

The songs I write generally are a sort of therapy for me. It's one of many ways I try to let emotions out in a safe, non-destructive way. It seems like, some people here do it as a profession or something, I don't think I produce nearly enough for that kind of thing I often write songs in one explosive burst... and then try and move on. They're definately all about feelings and emotions and I put all of myself and personality into them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm amazed that I never posted under this thread.

Songwriting for me is not an option; it something that I am compelled to do by God or The Devil or Whoever. That may sound extremely arrogant, and maybe it is, but the truth is the truth. I think what I'm trying to say is that the best writing (be it songs, stories, poetry, etc) and art in general comes from the deep well of experience within every person. It comes from things that you MUST write about, not things that you CAN write about. For that reason, I lay it all on the line. Even if it makes a family member potentially look bad, I'll put it in the song if it makes the song better.

Edited by phantomengineer
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nightwolf    56

I don't think it makes you sound arrogant at all, it is the same way I feel. I also agree with May's "wait time" comment. A lot of times if you wait a little while, the sit you wrote about will be forgotten. As far as hurting feelings, I'm a writer, that's what I do, the Song comes first.....ALWAYS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alistair    77
Even if it makes a family member potentially look bad, I'll put it in the song if it makes the song better.

So Tom, you're saying that you value a good song over good family relationships? Always? Don't you have a choice over how you put your ideas across to get the best of both worlds?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Alistair

For the sake of argument, let's say that my father is in prison for murder. This is fictional, but let's go with it.

If I write a song about my father being in prison, I'm going to write honestly. I'm not going to "beat around the bush" in an attempt to satisfy all the parties involved. I am a writer, and to write dishonestly is to cheat my audience. My family understands this; they understand how important writing is in my life. Experiences and relationships with my family have molded me a great deal; I would be dishonest if I did not let these relationships color and creep in to my work. It is of my opinion that if you want to become a good writer, and more importantly, an honest writer, then you must use all of your experiences and senses to write. You do not have to come right out and say "This happened to me when i was 7, and that happened when i was in high school, etc", but you should utilize past experiences to help give songs life.

For example, there is a line in my song "Guilt and Love" in which the narrator states:

The dark powers of addiction have resided in my blood

As the old saying goes, "Like mother like son"

While I am not personally the narrator in this song, this couplet is an experience from my own life. I love my mother; I do not mean to insult her by this line. And, for most people, if they listen to the song will not think that I am referring to my own mother. My mother understands this and knows that the line is not a personal attack.

Basically, what I'm saying is what you asked: I don't pull punches, but at the same time, I try not to throw anyone under the bus.

Edited by phantomengineer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alistair    77

Tom

I'm not talking about people taking fiction literally, but what if you WERE talking about your own mother, and what you wrote was true, would you always put the song above her feelings?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Alistair

In my last post, I actually moved from the hypothetical on to the actual (the mother example is a real, true example from my life of trying to find that happy balance between the song and people's feelings). I write what I write, that can't be helped. But, if it was something that I knew would make for some truly uncomfortable Christmas dinners, I simply would not play the song in public.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Alistair

I may be repeating the post. My computer's acting funny; I'm not sure if this post has been posted already. If so, I apologize.

In my last post, I actually moved from the hypothetical on to the actual (the mother example is a real, true example from my life of trying to find that happy balance between the song and people's feelings). I write what I write, that can't be helped. But, if it was something that I knew would make for some truly uncomfortable Christmas dinners, I simply would not play the song in public.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When it comes to lyrics, they're usually a one time thing that I do not modify. I personally don't think strong lyrics make a good song, and how some people just put such as emphasis on it as if it were poetry... okay, I suppose it is, but isn't the music really the more important thing in the picture here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steve    87
When it comes to lyrics, they're usually a one time thing that I do not modify. I personally don't think strong lyrics make a good song, and how some people just put such as emphasis on it as if it were poetry... okay, I suppose it is, but isn't the music really the more important thing in the picture here?

A contentious argument! I think if you're banging your head against a wall listening to some Death metal, then lyrics may seem unimportant! But if you're listening to a Jazz ballad, then the lyrics become all important! For me, it's definately a combination of the two. A good lyric can be enhanced greatly by a good melody. Conversely, a good lyric can be killed off instantly by a poor melody!

(Welcome to songstuff! :) )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark    0

Lately I've been having a lot of trouble with this because the things I've felt compelled to write about are things that I can't really share with other people without ruining my life. I guess its my way of finding an outlet for the emotions that I never talk about.

I just write it all in a notebook and store it away for that day when the subject matter isn't quite so recent- which could be years.

For example I might write about the trouble I'm having with a certain relationship that I don't tell anybody about, not even the person I'm in the relationship with.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rudi    587

Not exactly Mark, Ive become accustomed to letting the words flow out & damn the consequences. I have gotten flak about it, both in my personal life and also in here. I am not advocating this to you, but I personally have to work without constraint in order to get the best from my lyrics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Donna    7

Everyone has to find their own way at any given time. Because the lyrics do or can affect those close to us. That can branch out even wider if the writer is a parent.

I think it's legit to either pull back (relationships usually outlast songs) or not. I would hope to pull back, obscure, or keep the song private if I sensed the way a lyric was written would damage a relationship. But I probably don't.

Mark, I think it would serve well to write...and I'd hope you wouldn't stop there. Being candid (even if only to one's self)could be like an audio journal. Maybe aid you in going directly to those issues/relationships and begin to resolve them. Music is a mistress, but she ain't a human. Many have found that out.

Springsteen spoke about it this in recent years, came right out and said the shows were over 2 1/2 hours because the non-stage/non-music part of life, he honestly didn't know how to deal with. This was candor I appreciate and I thought the humility it took to step up to the plate of unknowing, is a manly thing to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Colonel    0

I think first of all you have to figure out if you are writing a certain song for personal or for pocketbook.

As a pro writer, (Dang I do get paid for writing) I have to separate them on a daily base. But all in all, how much of you is in a song ain't nobody's business but your own!

And for those that always ask, "Is that from a personal experience?" I answer, "They are all personal to me!!!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
john    1,453

Good points Colonel :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nightwolf    56

you should definitely be scared to get inside my head [smiley=bounce.gif]

its a wild and wooly place

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×