Chasers! I am so stoked to talk about one of my favorite things to do in life: writing lyrics. Songwriting as a whole has changed and saved my life more times than I can even recall – and even after great artists leave this world, their music and song lyrics remain forever.
The writing process varies for each person or songwriting team, but today I am going to talk about my personal writing strategies that yield some meaningful lyrics from time to time.
I’ve never played golf in my life, but I think there is an accurate comparison in writing music and great lyrics to playing golf. In golf you gear up and swing the club many times during the 18 hole game, and sometimes you get great long drives, while at other times you get stuck in the sand or the water. But…sometimes you par or make birdie and on that rare occasion, you get that hole in one i.e. the hit song.
Song lyrics are the crux of the song; the music may provide the groove and help emote the feeling, but the lyrics bring it on home and imprint themselves in the ears, hearts, and minds of its audience. For me, I tend to always write songs the exact same way: I grab my acoustic guitar, sit down and just start playing a simple chord progression or guitar melody, and then I start singing a melody over it. The lyrics are basically nonsense at this point.
Over the course of about 20-30 minutes, the song fleshes itself out (if it is ready to come through me) and the lyrics have emerged. It has always been this oddly quick process for me to compose an entire song both musically and lyrically. I don’t really ever sit down with my guitar intending to write a song or have any sort of writing outline / writing ideas consciously in mind. The songs flow through me subconsciously when they are ready to come.
That being said, I take my time to really make sure that I do not simply rhyme words together arbitrarily. They have to mean something and have to be lyrically cohesive.
I recall many years ago that I wrote a song called “Can You Take It?”, and my manager/producer Dana Strum asked if I literally rhymed the words ‘sutures’ and ‘future’ together. I replied that, yes indeed I did, but it really made sense contextually. I was using ‘sutures’ as a metaphor for the mental stitches holding me back from my future and being free & confident.
Metaphors are crucial in writing great lyrics because we are all capable of thinking and feeling things beyond the obvious and direct. It’s also why there are thousands of great love songs that may all be about the same thing, but all resonate differently because of the use of descriptive metaphors and interesting vernacular.
The Best Lyrics
The best lyrics and most meaningful lyrics come from the truth. If you are not comfortable writing about your own experiences, writing in third person lets you tell someone else’s story or your own in less subjective way. I have done this many times in my own songwriting and have used the experiences of others as writing topics and writing inspiration.
As humans, no matter how different we all are, we are also all very much the same – we have hearts, emotions; highs and lows; love and loss. We all resonate with lyrics that cut deep to the core of these emotions. Music is really the universal language in that way and is such a beautiful and valuable thing.
To check out more about my journey, click here to visit my official website and to download my first single “Paris” on iTunes click here.
Thank you so much for the support and belief. I’ll keep writing lyrics and you keep #chasingdreams