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Writers To Learn From

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We have a topic about bands that should have come to Songstuff to learn, so I thought it would be good to compile a list of writers that any writer should study the songs of with the aim of improving their writing.

Try and describe what you think are the writer's main strengths:

Thom Yorke - Radiohead

Great at writing in metaphors, similes and allegories and using those mechanisms to create multi-layered lyrics. Quite experimental at times and certainly a creative lyricist.

Thom Yorke - Radiohead



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Great idea, John. I don't listen to Radiohead myself (not my bag), but the principle is applicable to any genre.

Find a writer whose stuff you like. Figure out what you like about it. What is the guy/girl/band doing with words that grabs and holds your attention, and makes you remember the song as "good"? (If you're not tone-deaf like me, you may be able to apply the same considerations toward the music, too.) Then see if you can apply the trick or tricks, whatever they are, that the writer is using to your own stuff. And see how well it worked. (That's where feedback comes in.)

Repeat until, well, smooth.


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Good topic!

I would say Matt Thiessen from Relient K is a top pick, mostly because he's honest, heart-searching and clever! Lines like "I'm still waiting for you to be the one I'm waiting for" are common, and I love them! :P

Jon Foreman from Switchfoot writes great choruses (is that how you spell that?) with really good messages in few words, like "the shadow proves the sunshine" and "this is your life, are you who you want to be?"

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Biffy Clyro, he knows exactly how to connect with pretty much every emotion he sings about. Always hits the spot.

Fav Lines:

Ill Do My Best To Uphold You, All The Way Down

I Wish I Could Have Faltered, Wish I Could Have Changed

You Have All These Great Answers, To All These Great Questions, But I Feel They're Passing Me By.

and others

2) Maynard James Keenan, excels at exploring betrayal, hatred, fear, decay all those 'bad' things, along with enlightenment, religion etc

Has a knack with word setting which i have never seen anything like. tracks that come to mind are Lateralus, 4degrees, Undertow, Rosetta Stoned, Jambi, The Grudge, The Patient, AEnima, 46&2, etc etc etc

Fav Lines:

with my feet upon the ground,

i lose myself between the sounds,

and open wide to suck it in,

i feel it move across my skin,

i'm reaching out,

i'm reaching in,

i'm reaching for the random for,

whatever will bewilder me,

whatever will bewilder me,

- Lateralus

If there were no rewards to reap,

no loving embrace to see me through,

this tedious path i've chosen here,

i certainly would have walked away by now,

and i still may,

- The Patient.

:D imo

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Paul Simon. He has turned the most mundane and everyday things into fantastic songs.

The Boxer

"I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises"


"Let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together. "

Sounds Of Silence

"Hello darkness my old friend"

A Poem on The Underground Wall

To seek the breast of darkness and be suckled by the night.

The list is endless.

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Nice topic.

Darren Hayes. He used to make very radio friendly stuff bur he's now indie and has made a very nice album

My faves between so many others.

" There's hundred challenging things a boy can do.

and you've waved goodbye and held more tears in

than anyone ever should"

"I've got such a jealous side

Reaching out I try to hide my infant stride.

And in my mind this is all so prototype

I make it wrong to make it feel right, you don't deny it"

Check him out if you have the time, you won't regret it.

There's also Imogen Heap, I've been listening to, her lyrics and music in general are simple but I just found her last album inspiring and Annie Lennox I don't think someone can feel pain in such a beautiful way as she does.

Tom Yorke I agree with that, it's amazing how he always has something different to offer, when you listen to radiohead you it's him but in a very different way everytime (Does that makes any sense to you?)

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  • 1 month later...

Maynard James Keenan of Tool

From "Jambi" (It means jam two in case anyone doesn't know what the song title means)

"But I

I would

If I could

I would

Wish it away

Wish it away

Wish it all away

Wanna wish it all away

No prize that could hold sway

Or justify my giving away my center

So if I could I'd wish it all away

If I thought tomorrow would take you away.

You, my piece of mind, my all, my center,

just trying to hold on one more day.

Damn my eyes!

Damn my eyes!

If they should compromise the fulcrum:

(If) wants and needs divide me

Then I might as well be gone..."

Vurtox from Disillusion

From "A Day By The Lake"

"But today there are only elegies

Filling our tainted elysium

Still hoping that fall will never come

This place turned to a fraud mirage

Deceitful and untrue.

Still hoping that fall will never come

Embraces solace me

They hide my tears in pastel drapery

Still hoping that fall will never come

And I cry just as you

Knowing, this is coming to an end

But still I am hoping that fall will never come.

But it came."

Robert Wyatt from Matching Mole

From "O Caroline"

"David's on piano, and I may play on a drum

And we'll try to make the music work, we'll try to have some fun

But I just can't help thinking that if you were here with me

I'd get all my thoughts in focus and play more excitingly

I love you still - Caroline

I want you still - Caroline

I need you still - Caroline

If you call this sentimental crap you'll make me mad

Cause you know that I would not sing about some passing fad

And if my attempts at rhyming aren't convincing to your ear

Then memories betray you through the passing of the year

I love you still - Caroline

I want you still - Caroline

I need you still - Caroline

You must think it doubtful that I mean the words I sing

Or that all attempts to reach you this way could not mean a thing

But you must admit we both thought we'd be man and wife

And that I could make you happy for the best part of your life

I love you still - Caroline

I love you still - Caroline "

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  • 1 month later...

Conor Oberst doesn't have a very good voice and his melodies aren't that great, but his songwriting is amazing.

We must talk in every telephone, get eaten off the web

We must rip out all the epilogues from the books that we have read

Into the face of every criminal strapped firmly to a chair

We must stare, we must stare, we must stare

We must take all of the medicines too expensive now to sell

Set fire to the preacher who is promising us hell

Into the ear of every anarchist that sleeps but doesn't dream

We must sing, we must sing, we must sing

And it'll go like this, all right

While my mother waters plants, my father loads his gun

He says, "Death will give us back to God

Just like the setting sun

Is returned to the lonesome ocean"

We must blend into the choir, sing as static with the whole

We must memorize nine numbers and deny we have a soul

Into this endless race for property and privilege to be won

We must run, we must run, we must run

We must hang up in the belfry where the bats and moonlight laugh

We must stare into a crystal ball and only see the past

Into the caverns of tomorrow with just our flashlights and our love

We must plunge, we must plunge, we must plunge

And then we'll get down there

Way down to the very bottom of everything

And then we'll see it, oh, we'll see it! We'll see it! We’ll see it!

Oh, my morning's coming back

The whole world’s waking up

All the city buses swimming past

I'm happy just because

I found out I am really no one

The plot developement is superb, and he doesn't use repetitive choruses. I want to learn how not to do that.

Edited by MaggotyAnne
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He's using a refrain in this, using the last line of the verse as the hook. The hook is the rhythm of the last line and all the repetition is in that section. It is a subtle but strong hook that relies slightly more on the vocal melody and rhythm to bring that feeling of repetition. In this he uses AABAAAB as the form. I don't know the song but looking at it the last A section could well be to a slightly different melody making it stand out, even to the extent that it is a different section, but the refrain idea is still present .

Anyways... thanks forposting it up! :) Nice one.



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