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Does My Lyric Really Say Anything?


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Do you ever look at your lyrics and think thoughts like this:

Does the song I just wrote actually say anything? Have I just reworked old lines and rhymes in some ambiguous way? Why do my lyrics look a lot like other people's lyrics? Am I afraid to even try to write something real? My lyric says "I hurt, I cry, I need, I want; but I never really say exactly what I'm talking about. Maybe I want my listener to know I have pain but I don't want him to know what really happened to cause my pain or how I react when I feel that pain. That would be too revealing, too intrusive.

So I will say:

She left me yesterday

Guess I'll cried myself to sleep every night

Why did she go away

It just ain't right

When what really happened was:

I never heard the clock this morning but I don't care that I'll be late

Yesterday's clothes may be all wrinkled but they'll do

A cup of coffee will be my breakfast but I won't sit at the table

Cause that empty chair still holds a place for you.

Although no emotions were mentioned, I'm guessing you probably know a lot more about me and how I feel after reading the second example.

If you have something real you want to share, then don't just tell me how you feel; tell me what happens when you feel that way. Even if it's a made-up story you can make it far more interesting by letting your description of what is happening tell your listener how you feel. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of effort, a lot of writing; but, trust me, it's worth it.

Keep writing,

Don

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Don,

Sure wouldn't mind you having a look at the postings I've left on here - might be 4 or so. I'm always looking to improve, and I have a thick skin, so no need to sugar coat it. Real life intrusions have kept me off the forums for a week or so, but I'm hoping to be back in the mix for a bit now. BTW - welcome to the forum.

Phil

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Although no emotions were mentioned, I'm guessing you probably know a lot more about me and how I feel after reading the second example.

You're right, it does.

And in less wimpy self-obsessed style too - much more attractive.

And very country.

I sure like those quotes you append to your postings.

Good stuff.

But, you know, when thinking about that question at the beginning - "Does the song I just wrote actually say anything?" - I realised that I've got quite a few where I'd have to say "No - this crap is pretty low level meaningless mumble" - but somehow it manages to pass muster (barely) I think because the idiom allows the sounds of the words and the shape of their melody to somehow be enough.

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Great points! I'd love to follow your advice right away, but I write most lyrics for metal, and it doesn't really work the same way. There are way more similes and metaphors, it's generally more abstract. I don't really know how to apply this technique to these kinds of lyrics?

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You're right, it does.

And in less wimpy self-obsessed style too - much more attractive.

Indeed, not to mention getting personal helps break away from the dreaded tag "cliche'"...hmmm...

Boff, I think the same idea can bee explored in metal, similes and metaphors can still bee personal. Here is the same idea Don wrote about with a metal, but still personal twist:

It's 6am and I'm barely breathing

gotta force me through the wringer again

screaming brings no solace

I'm still alone again

not a teacher, just shouting ideas

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Sure wouldn't mind you having a look at the postings I've left on here - might be 4 or so. I'm always looking to improve, and I have a thick skin, so no need to sugar coat it. Real life intrusions have kept me off the forums for a week or so, but I'm hoping to be back in the mix for a bit now. BTW - welcome to the forum.

Phil

I've looked at your songs. Good work. Most of them already have music and I don't critique lyrics that have music. Sometimes my suggestions include structural changes; if a demo already exists, you probably won't consider removing a verse or changing the song to AABA style from ABAB style. When you post more new lyrics that don't already have music, I'll take a look.

Write on man, Write on

Thanks

Hey

I wrote a long post in reply and my browser crashed just before I hit send. I will try to reply properly tomorrow.

Cheers

John

Looking forward to it.

You're right, it does.

And in less wimpy self-obsessed style too - much more attractive.

And very country.

I sure like those quotes you append to your postings.

Good stuff.

But, you know, when thinking about that question at the beginning - "Does the song I just wrote actually say anything?" - I realised that I've got quite a few where I'd have to say "No - this crap is pretty low level meaningless mumble" - but somehow it manages to pass muster (barely) I think because the idiom allows the sounds of the words and the shape of their melody to somehow be enough.

"Meaningless mumble" might sound pretty good inside a well-produced recording. In fact, it might have meaning for the listener that the writer never imagined.

Plenty of great hit recordings have lyrics that "barely" pass muster, including some of my favorites. I began the post with "Do you ever look at your lyrics and think thoughts like this." My advice doesn't work in all situations. "Story" songs are my target.

Great points! I'd love to follow your advice right away, but I write most lyrics for metal, and it doesn't really work the same way. There are way more similes and metaphors, it's generally more abstract. I don't really know how to apply this technique to these kinds of lyrics?

If the song has a bridge, drop out of the "similes and metaphors" of the other sections and describe something "real." The contrast will be striking.

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i feeel the same...infact my lyrics are nothing but random lines n rhyming exercise...thats what i've been told...!!

but still somehow i keep writting, keep posting..hoping that one day i will improve..!!

I've looked at some of your songs and they look like more than rhyming exercises to me. If you agree with or are concerned about "what you've been told", you might want to use less rhymes in your songs. If your rhyming scheme is ABAB where every other line rhymes and every line in the section has a corresponding rhyme, don't rhyme the "B" lines. That will give you more freedom in the "B" lines to say what you need to say without worrying about rhymes. You might also write longer verses with six or more lines but only two rhyming lines.

Another issue about rhymes is using a rhyme that sounds good but causes the line to not make sense -- a forced rhyme. That's one of the perils of rhyming. Make sure you said what you meant to say.

Don't let a good rhyme camouflage a bad line.

Keep writing,

Don

Edited by TaoMannaDon
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If the song has a bridge, drop out of the "similes and metaphors" of the other sections and describe something "real." The contrast will be striking.

That's actually a great idea! With bridge, do you mean like a pre-chorus-thing, or "C" in ABABCB?

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That's actually a great idea! With bridge, do you mean like a pre-chorus-thing, or "C" in ABABCB?

In your example the "C" section would be the bridge:

A=Verse

B=Chorus

A=Verse

B=Chorus

C=Bridge

B=Chorus

Another example would be the AABA song structure:

A=Verse

A=Verse

B=Bridge

A=Verse

One way to think of it is -- the bridge connects two similar sections (on the same level, like a bridge across a river connects two pieces of land). The lyrical bridge goes between two verses or two choruses. A prechorus connects two sections but is more like steps and less like a bridge. It lifts the lyric up to a different type of music section -- verse/prechorus/chorus.

I once wrote an AABA lyric were the "A" sections described what was happening around me in a nature setting and the "B" section described what I was doing there. It became a personal story within a more general story and is one of my favorite lyrics now.

Learn to create a great bridge and you're on your way to becoming a good songwriter.

Keep writing,

Don

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In your example the "C" section would be the bridge:

A=Verse

B=Chorus

A=Verse

B=Chorus

C=Bridge

B=Chorus

The reason I was asking is that in Sweden we call the bridge "stick" and a pre-chorus would be called "bridge", but now I understand what you mean, and I'll be sure to try it out! :)

Thanks for some great advice, keep 'em coming! :P

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The reason I was asking is that in Sweden we call the bridge "stick" and a pre-chorus would be called "bridge", but now I understand what you mean, and I'll be sure to try it out! :)

Thanks for some great advice, keep 'em coming! :P

:P

It's a shame the "universal translator" used in Star Trek and similar science fiction shows is not available on Songstuff. You'd think we shouldn't need a "universal translator" since we both speak English; but I'm immedaitely reminded that whenever I'm in the mall (shopping center) and a bunch of young people are talking near me .... it sounds like English but I can't understand a thing they are saying. :P

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