What makes a lyric persuasive enough that listeners would want to remember it? Is it the perfect combination of exceptional wordplay with just the right amount of emotional expression? Or is it allowing the listeners to see a reflection of themselves as they sing along? Well, it is neither (it is much more than that).
Songwriting is about shedding light on a subject that makes listeners see the world differently or even question their beliefs. It is about getting as close as you can to a listener, ethier by telling your story, describing a scenario, or maybe even asking the audience to be the protagonist of your song. And that’s what we will talk about today: how do you get to someone’s soul. And if not getting there, how to start walking towards it?
Having An Exact Idea
We all hear songs about love, hate, inspiration, devotion, and so many other emotions almost every day in our life. But the next time you do it, try and understand the direction it is heading towards. Good lyrics are not about being here and there and, in the end, going nowhere. They are about choosing a track and heading towards a final destination. Let me give you an example with lyrics written by John Mayer.
It’s not a silly little moment
It’s not the storm before the calm
This is the deep and dying breath of
This love that we’ve been working on
Can’t seem to hold you like I want to
So I can feel you in my arms
Nobody’sgonna come and save you
We pulled too many false alarms
We’re going down
And you can see it too
We’re going down
And you know that we’re doomed
We’re slow dancing in a burning room
If you’d notice, as this song progresses, it leads towards a final place. John Mayer had given it a particular direction. This helps the listeners get along with the track and enjoy the journey knowing that the song is all about failing relationships and trying to keep a boat afloat even though it clearly has so many holes. This is what you should aim for. Aiming for a destination will allow you to be on a particular journey and clear your idea for the song. It will also help you choose the right notes and music. So, aim for a destination rather than blundering all over the place.
Do Not Fall Back On Clichés
As far as writing a song goes, falling for clichés is very hard for the audience today, no matter how brilliant your wordplay is. An impeccable set of observational skills can help you escape this trap. Finding something new in a song is always impressive for a listener. Even if it is a simple mistake someone makes daily or something a person notices every day. Here’s another line from John Mayer for you to understand.
I still keep your shampoo in my shower
In case you wanna wash your hair
And I know that you probably found yourself some more, somewhere
But I do not really care
”Causes long as it is there
I still feel like your man
If you read these lines, you won’t find clichés. Instead, you’ll find new observations (basic information are the ones no one notices). If you try long enough and let all the cliché material get out of your system, you’ll see a change in your writing. You’ll notice that you no longer follow a single pattern that you always used to, and instead, you’ll achieve a unique versatility that will help you get more listeners.
Simplicity is key
When someone plays a song, it is usually not because they want to hear big words, your academic vocabulary, or even your philosophy. Most of the time, the person just wants to have some fun and feel the emotions you are trying to portray. Therefore, it is essential to find simplicity in your writing so that most of the listeners can engage with your art. It does not mean you must compromise your quality, and it also does not mean you have to write the most straightforward thing possible. It just means that you need to satisfy the listener and make it essential that he or she can at least reflect themselves through your song. Ed Sheeran is the perfect example of being simple yet impressive. His lyrics never seem to compromise quality, yet they are in their simplest form. I think this is one of the reasons his songs are so popular in the mainstream (apart from the fact that he also happens to be a great musician).
Many rules can make your writing extremely likeable and exciting. But if our basics are strong, we get a better chance to score high in the long run. I have learned in my journey of being a lyricist that if you give yourself some time, be persistent and develop patience, you can surely improve your writing. Every art needs time to grow, and we must ensure it is getting all the necessary nutrients so that its roots are getting stronger as time passes. Some essential rules for writing good lyrics are having an exact idea for a song, avoiding clichés, and aiming for simplicity. I hope I could make your journey as a writer a little more bearable, if not stronger, through this blog. Hope you have an incredible journey ahead and be the best you can be.
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