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Mixing The "person" Up - What's The Problem, Why Is It A Problem, Why Can't You Do It?

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I've read many times that a lyricist or songwriter should not mix up 1st and 3rd person etc. If you begin with one, stick with it.

Why? What "set in stone" rule stops you from being able to include "all" sides? Why restrict expression?

If I have a good lyric where "general" statements are involved that apply to I/me, he/she and you/you or they, to help make the reader/listener associate more easily with them I want to use the you etc (as in singular and/or plural) but then in the other lines, verses or chorus I want to say how "I" personally feel and so use I/me.

Quick example:

Don't you ever feel down and out

Don't you ever feel

You want to scream and shout

At all the things you see

All the hurt they cause

I know if left to me

I'd tie them to a runaway horse.

Or is this all in my imagination? Do you think it's ok to mix them up?

Answers on a postcard please :eusa_think:

And please, give examples for and against.

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It's a bit like a novel - It would be strange if a writer was writing in third person and then suddenly an I appeared, because this I is unknown to the reader. I suppose there are arty novels which play with rule breaking where this is used - but songs should not be arty novels - If you can break the rules though and make it convincing - go for it -

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Thanks for the initial feesback guys :)

Make the distinction clear - ok will try.

Arty, nope - not looking for arty (in my sense of the word). A song/lyric here based on religion got me to thinking and writing 2 sides which would also include schizophrenia (I'm meaning the splitting of the masses etc as multiple personalities). Then I began another on another topic and so on and STOPPED - I thought I committed the holiest of holy sins - mixing them up - aaaggghhhhhhhh. Now I'll have to change everything :( Hang on, why not ask first :)

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The example you give is clear. Second person, then the author gives his opinion in the first person.

First person/third person is generally a bit trickier.

Clarity is the guide and goal. In keeping with that, do what fits the song.

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Thx Blackhawk, the example was just a quick one I could think of using you, they and I

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  • 1 month later...

In listeners of music, you are dealing with VERY short attention spans. If you confuse them with character and point of view changes, without explaining how they are being changed, the listener can be confused and tune you out. Again, being clear helps keep your listener with you till the end of the song.


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