Jump to content

Your Ad Could Be Here

Lyrics Writing Challenge #20 - Base Text


Recommended Posts

Hi Gang

 

This is as much a workshop task as a writing challenge... so this Saturday, 3rd November, I suggest using the chat box for working through the challenge. We can always do it on other days too. I would suggest 12pm EST?

 

The challenge is in stages. It is recreate something used often in pop songs, but it crops up more and more often in many genres.

 

Normally I would suggest starting with an emotion, then create a title, theme and message, then the chorus, the verses, then other section. For this challenge we will be

 

1. Choose a Theme for your own song.

2. Write a prose version of your song or chose a story as a base text.

 

The basis to this approach is to substitute alternatives for key elements of the prose, when you represent them in your lyrics. Often a metaphor, allegory or simile is used. 

 

The singer meets Sue in a bar and falls for her. Over a short period the singer falls in love, takes Sue home, introduces her to family and friends. Sue leads the singer on, appearing interested, only to break their heart. No explanation given at time. The singer is distraught, can’t believe it, begs, gets angry, feels lost. Sue is cold, doesn’t care and tells the singer to go away and leave her alone. Still no explanation given.The singer resolves to put Sue behind him and move on.

 

3. Look at your prose and extract key points:

 

The characters: the singer,  Sue, family, friends

Location : bar, home

Singer Emotions & State Of Mind: Love, anger, confusion, desperate, sad, in pain, subservient, lacking control

Sue emotions & state of mind: Disinterest, dismissal, self serving

Events: Meeting, introduction to family etc, break up, moving on

 

4. Now look at the points and substitute some of the elements with a metaphor, allegory or simile.

 

You might need to play with the replacements. The more you add, the more abstract it will feel. Go too far and it can be confusing, or lack an emotional impact.

 

In general be consistent, if you apply a substitution, use that all the way through the song

 

5. Post your prose, key points etc, and substitutions.

 

If you look at my song Hit and Run, added at the end of this post as an example, you can see I replaced the emotional journey of the singer with being hit by a car (hence hit and run!). In my song you can see I use physical sensation and imagery to convey emotion... because the emotional journey itself was performing a structural role in my song that could potential reduce it’s impact. Using physical sensation (my heart beat pounding, world spinning etc) it connects the listener’s feelings to the song.

 

I also leave it unresolved. The singer falls but never hits. Nothing so final!

 

6. Choose a Working Title. This will be your Main Lyrical Hook

7. Choose a Message (optional)

8. Post the title and message. The title might well depend on the substitutions, that is why it is left until after the substitution phase.

 

you might go back and forward on this a few times, changing substitutions.

 

9. Write your song!

10. Post up the lyric (draft and then work on it, or finished work... up to you)

 

11. Polish and post the finished song.

 

Goid luck.

 

Now as promised....

 

Hit and Run

 

~*~ Verse ~*~
When I first saw you I couldn't breathe, the lights were flashing
Car crash victim, there's no reprieve, you hit me head on
One moment Nothing, next you're there, my heart beat pounding
Rising high into the air, my world was spinning round

 

~*~ Chorus ~*~
If I knew what I know now
But I'd kept my feet on the ground
No ifs or buts
It's a heart felt hit and run

 

~*~ Verse ~*~
I was cast adrift, you pulled away, the darkness seeping
high and dry no words can say, you kept your foot down
Head over heels my heart and soul, my body shaking
Falling fast with no control, my world was spinning round

 

~*~ Chorus ~*~
If I knew what I know now
But I'd kept my feet on the ground
No ifs or buts
It's a heart felt hit and run

 

~*~ Bridge ~*~
I thought I had it all
I thought I had it all
My world is spinning round

 

~*~ Chorus ~*~
If I knew what I know now
But I'd kept my feet on the ground
No ifs or buts
It's a heart felt hit and run

 

If I knew what I know now
But I'd kept my feet on the ground
No ifs or buts
It's a heart felt hit and run


It's a heart felt hit and run

 

© Copyright 2009 John Moxey, all rights reserved

 

 

John

 

Link to comment
  • john featured and pinned this topic

Are we all doing our own theme /story / song? If so,

What is the Chatbox meet at noon Saturday for?

 

Or are we doing a collective theme /story / song? If so when do we do our own thing? at what stages? 4/ perhaps?

 

Also part 7 (choose a message): Is this like a moral? from a fable? If so this could be limiting I think.

Link to comment

It is your own theme. Meeting is purely optional. It is simply to answer any questions you might have, or for those who want to discuss their ideas with each other. Just for clarity, It is at noon EST, not GMT.

 

Message is just what you want them to take from it, or what you want it to represent, convey or otherwise say...  but that too can be optional. I will amend the first post. :)

Link to comment
21 hours ago, Rudi said:

Also part 7 (choose a message): Is this like a moral? from a fable? If so this could be limiting I think.

 

Hopefully the example also shows no fable element is needed. There are a few messages in the example, but I think the overall message would be something like “With the benefit of hindsight, we might do things differently”. No great moral message, but it does sum up the lyrics.

Link to comment

Ok I think I got my theme.. just chatting through my idea with you guys has given me lots to work on in prose.   Hope to post up to #5 .. soon ? (that's in the interpretation) :)

 

Link to comment
1 minute ago, Peggy said:

Ok I think I got my theme.. just chatting through my idea with you guys has given me lots to work on in prose.   Hope to post up to #5 .. soon ? (that's in the interpretation) :)

 

 

Great!

Link to comment

My base text is the story of Diogenes and Alexander.

 

Thereupon many statesmen and philosophers came to Alexander with their congratulations, and he expected that Diogenes of Sinope also, who was tarrying in Corinth, would do likewise. But since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him; and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many people coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, "Yes," said Diogenes, "stand a little out of my sun."It is said that Alexander was so struck by this, and admired so much the haughtiness and grandeur of the man who had nothing but scorn for him, that he said to his followers, who were laughing and jesting about the philosopher as they went away, "But truly, if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes."

Link to comment

5/ 6/ 8/

Acting

Working title: I'd rather be the extra

Alexander is a Star. Diogenes is an extra

The song will be from the POV of Alexander

Link to comment

9 / 10 /11

The lyric

 

Title: The Leading Man

V1

And so I wished for the world, until the world wished for me

I stole every drop of water from the well

As I ran for the line, the line came running to me

Everyone can see me so far as I can tell

V2

So I played, prayed and paid for infamy and fame

I have your eyes, I have your ears, I have you

I have now been everywhere and everywheres the same

My face is 40 ft across the avenue

 

Chorus

That’s the way it’s been in every role and every scene

Except today I’d rather be the extra

Yes today I’d really rather be the extra

Today I’d rather be the extra because he stole the show and he didn’t even care about it

 

Repeat verse 1/

Repeat Chorus

Rudi Samborski 6-November-2018

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Rudi said:

9 / 10 /11

The lyric

 

Title: The Leading Man

 

V1

 

And so I wished for the world, until the world wished for me

 

I stole every drop of water from the well

 

As I ran for the line, the line came running to me

 

Everyone can see me so far as I can tell

 

 

V2

 

So I played, prayed and paid for infamy and fame

 

I have your eyes, I have your ears, I have you

 

I have now been everywhere and everywheres the same

 

My face is 40 ft across the avenue

 

 

 

Chorus

 

That’s the way it’s been in every role and every scene

 

Except today I’d rather be the extra

 

Yes today I’d really rather be the extra

 

Today I’d rather be the extra because he stole the show and he didn’t even care about it

 

 

 

Repeat verse 1/

 

Repeat Chorus

 

 

Rudi Samborski 6-November-2018

 

Hey Rudi

 

That’s turned out pretty damned good mate! The last line of the chorus is a little clunky and I would perhaps add in one or two words to amp up the emotional content, but all in all I am pretty impressed. It is an interesting lyric. It has depth. It hints at meaning.

 

How did you find the exercise? Was it harder or easier than your normal writing process? How do you think the results compare?

 

Cheers

 

John

Link to comment
21 hours ago, john said:

 

Hey Rudi

 

That’s turned out pretty damned good mate! The last line of the chorus is a little clunky and I would perhaps add in one or two words to amp up the emotional content, but all in all I am pretty impressed. It is an interesting lyric. It has depth. It hints at meaning.

 

How did you find the exercise? Was it harder or easier than your normal writing process? How do you think the results compare?

 

Cheers

 

John

 

Thank you for noting that the emotional content needs a look. You are right, but it didnt occur to me. My words are becoming more reportage and less emotional now.

 

The last line does look that way but it made sense in my head. Similar to the line

"Give me your heart, make it real or else forget about it" from Santana's 'Smooth'

 

It was harder. I couldnt get away from the notion that I was working backwards. The metaphors wanted to point towards Diogenes & Alexander rather than away from them. I dont like the movie star substitution. I couldnt think of anything better though.

Apart from that I'm happy with the choice & use of words. Running for the line / emptying the wishing well etc.

 

It is short. I could excuse it by saying 'make the point then get out'. It would be truer to say I'm lazy.

You got me working though John. You should have been my manager...

 

 

Link to comment

1. My theme is Institutional Betrayal -- a fancy term that describes situations when common trusted and powerful institutions (schools, churches, military, government) act in ways that harm those dependent on them for safety and well-being. It's been coming up in a lot of my conversations lately, so I decided there must be a reason!

 

2. My base text will be some common examples of institutional betrayal given by the originators of this concept (Smith & Freyd, 2014): "A college freshman reports a sexual assault and is met with harassment and insensitive investigative practices leading to her suicide. Former grade school students, now grown, come forward to report childhood abuse perpetrated by clergy, coaches, and teachers—first in trickles and then in waves, exposing multiple perpetrators with decades of unfettered access to victims. Members of the armed services elect to stay quiet about sexual harassment and assault during their military service or risk their careers by speaking up."

I'm thinking about structuring my lyrics around the 3 necessary ingredients for the betrayal:  avoid calling it what it is by using various more palatable terms, there's no written policy that acknowledges the extent of the problem, and it's understood that whistleblowers will be punished.

 

Lots of key points to pull out but hit the fatigue wall so will continue with #3 shortly

Link to comment

Too late for me to write much about what I did right now but I did have a stab at this. I didn't like the idea of going about things this way at all as I've been writing songs the same way for at least 12 years - I normally improvise words and chords simultaneously - I worked out I am principally writing for my voice as an instrument as you can do so much more with the voice when singing than you could imagine when writing lyrics with perfectly metrical scansion - I've written poetry for as long also so I know there are many and varied differences between the two forms of expression - generally, I think, only the simplest, most basic and worst elements of poetry are dragged into lyricism (but that's a topic for another time) however I did start the writing process first and resisted the urge for as long as I could to not pick up my guitar and start singing and reshaping the word choices around the melody but that is where I have ended up - the acid test imho is that words, phrases and lines have to be as singable as possible and how singable they are may depend on what you can do as a singer - anyway - I got something out of the process so far but nothing like a compete song yet - just a sketch and  a clear idea of the boundaries that I intend to work within - I'll post more tomorrow - if I have time - there is also a couple of reasons why the theme of swimming caused me a few problems which I'll try to explain - it's not that is was a difficult subject or with the vocabulary. All in all, so far, it was a good thing to try doing things differently.

Link to comment

My theme is the trotting out of a band or singer well past their sell by date, but hoping they still 'have it'.

 

Coincidentally the Spice Girls have just announced a tour ...

 

 

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

1. Choose a Theme for your own song.
#1 Theme: (I don't really write rock or pop music or songs about love - I'm interested in writing about more complex issues) the fearsome nature of anorexia based on my experience of supporting my daughter; very quickly you learn to personify the illness in order to build some kind of understanding of what is a disturbing, confusing and formidable, self-destructive force - I have already written about this a number of times through poetry, prose and music - a lot of that is intended for a book about our experiences - each chapter is made up of a piece of prose, some free verse and a piece of structured poetry as poetry lends itself better imho to the task of capturing complex, conflicting, poignant or emotionally heightened situations in a compact way, prose is a better vehicle for propelling the narrative forward - I've been compiling pieces I started writing in late 2014.

 

2. Write a prose version of your song or chose a story as a base text.
#2 Anorexia is a mental illness that is very adept at hiding itself - sufferers often hide their illness very well - the strange thinking and behaviours - they can be very manipulative and deceptive - behaviour that is a consequence of the illness. As a result of severe weight loss there are many physical and mental effects - I won't go into them all but one surprising and generally little known effects is a significant reduction in the size of the brain leading to very poor concentration and poor memory so in the case of my daughter - she has a very poor recollection of many events leading up to her hospitalisation in early 2014 and the 6 months she spent in a specialist eating disorders ward. I don't want to complete my book until she is ready and able to take part in discussions about what was going on - we can talk about her illness but it's still a difficult subject for her to want to spent much time and effort talking about in any detail - there seem to be many things that she simply doesn't recall - some of the parts of the whole story that I am considering in this song include my need or wish to hear her speak frankly about the darkest parts of her illness.

 

The basis to this approach is to substitute alternatives for key elements of the prose, when you represent them in your lyrics. Often a metaphor, allegory or simile is used.

 

3. Look at your prose and extract key points:
#3 The illness; about which she still finds it difficult to talk in depth about, for any period of time.The illness which is both her only friend and simultaneously an uncontrollable and self-destructive force. The illness that operates by stealth - if you have not shared your life with someone suffering with the illness you will not understand how well the hosts (the sufferers) hide their illness - their are a multitude of strange behaviours and unhelpful thinking patterns that the casual acquaintance will never see or understand.
 
4. Now look at the points and substitute some of the elements with a metaphor, allegory or simile.

#4 I'm simply personifying the anorexia as a serpent - a thin, camouflaged, monster from the cold, deep and forbidding lake in my daughters mind and myself as the swimmer, anxious with the prospect of having to dive to unfathomable depths in the search of her voice.

 

5. Post your prose, key points etc, and substitutions.

 

6. Choose a Working Title. This will be your Main Lyrical Hook
#6 Serpent

 

7. Choose a Message (optional)
#7 I'm undecided about what, if any, message, there should be.

 

8. Post the title and message. The title might well depend on the substitutions, that is why it is left until after the substitution phase.

you might go back and forward on this a few times, changing substitutions.

 

9. Write your song!
I wrote the lyrics over in about 2 hours stretched over 2 consecutive days. It's the first and only time I can remember writing lyrics and not using my guitar or singing so I did picture the phrasing of the lines to some extent but was more focussed on just writing about what I felt I wanted to write about. I developed the lyrics in 4 versions, adding more words but when it came down to the first time I tried to sing and play the lyrics (again - just improvised - I didn't use any chords or ideas from anything I had tried before) I found myself drawn back to the much simpler lyrics in the 2nd version I wrote and that is pretty much 95% of what I will paste here now:


10. Post up the lyric (draft and then work on it, or finished work... up to you)
#10
Standing
On the shoreline
In the cold wind
By the cold lake
In the white sun

 

Bare feet
In sharp sand
Surrounded by the mountains blue
I wish myself
In the deepest part

 

Searching
By torch light
For the sound of your voice
And deeper explanations

 

But there was the shadow of a serpent
A primitive survivor
Gliding
While every signal in your mind
Was silenced
And you were petrified
And so was I
But you were petrified

 

But I'm standing
On the shoreline
In the cold wind
By the cold lake
In the white sun


I'm not sure where I am with this - there is more of the story that could be included in this and maybe I have not stuck to the brief exactly. I have all of this recorded with basic guitar - ~1min 45s and I think I have maybe 60-80% of a finished song. I can easily add more and I have to sort out what the structure is  but I don't fret or stress about finishing it - it will come - I can make it happen and, just as I am with complex maths problems and crosswords - I'll enjoy the process of getting the answers. This is one thing I've learned - you have to love the process - you have to learn to enjoy working in the uncertainty of an unresolved creative effort - to me it's just effort, imagination, persistence, trial and error, logic, experience, experimentation, fearlessness, reading and research, intensity, self-belief, etc. I think the concept of a muse is archaic BS that has no place in modern thinking about creativity.

 

11. Polish and post the finished song.
#11 I'm thinking this song may take a while to finish - acoustic guitar on its own may not be the right way to show off this song - keyboards may suit it better but I normally only write songs I can perform on a guitar, solo, so that would be going in a direction I don't particularly want to go in. I just bought my first set of new strings since my daughter went in to hospital in 2014. She doing well now btw but she will never be the same person she once was - I know we all change but we have all been changed in many ways by the experience.
 

Link to comment

Anyone else working on this?

Here's a private link to a demo of what i have so far - about half a song.

 

Link to comment

One of the things that I love about this challenge is the way it shows the thought processes of different writers.

 

Like you, Lemonstar, I like a reasonable amount of depth of meaning in my songs (for the most part).  I often write about issues too. I am glad to hear your daughter is doing well. My wife has bipolar so I am familiar with just how difficult and stubborn mental health issues can be.

 

I appreciate that you didn’t overuse the direct mention of the serpent. I think it works better that way. Another option could be to talk around the subject without mentioning “serpent” explicitly, ie instead, use attributes of a serpent within the lyrics... hiss, slither, fang etc, or you could do both. You can also play on that by imagery, back and forth a coiled spring, it’s on the tip of my tongue etc.

 

Good stuff. :)

 

 

 

Link to comment

re:overuse - yes - that is a thing to be wary of imho - metaphors are as beguiling as an octopus but you can get too tangled up with them - I try not to let them get too much of a hold on things - once you've introduced them, escaping from them artfully is often tricky. Like a lot of songwriting techniques you have to you a little taste and discretion and not try to metaphor, simile, end-rhyme, or syllable count your way through an entire song as though you are writing limericks for daleks.

Link to comment
  • john unpinned and unfeatured this topic
  • 10 months later...

Well - almost a year has gone by since I started this and I've continued to try and grind this one out and this is where I am now.

 

Serpent Lyrics.jpg

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

Your Ad Could Be Here



  • Current Donation Goals

    • Raised $1,040
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By continuing to use our site you indicate acceptance of our Terms Of Service: Terms of Use, our Privacy Policy: Privacy Policy, our Community Guidelines: Guidelines and our use of Cookies We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.