My first ever song writing project was for the Robert Burns bicentenary year in 1996 when I was commissioned to write new music some of his poems/songs. I had to do a lot of research for the project and in the process of doing this I found my love of poetry, when the project was completed I began applying what I had learned to lyric writing, this was a mistake, simply because a song is NOT a poem. Let me give you one difference to make the point, a poem has a lot more time for the reader to reach the point of the story and the poetry that I was reading was from a time period when reading was one of the main leisure pursuits. Yes a song does rime mostly, but the language needs to be conversational and you must get to the point quickly, or your listener will loose interest.
So what does keeping it real have to do with this? When I discovered how much I loved the poetry of Robert Burns, the next almost natural step was to learn more about the person, Why? I wanted to understand more about his genius, but all I discovered is this, he was the son of a ploughman, he lived in a small cottage with his family, but he wrote of and about what he new, a mouse in a field, the woman that he loved, and used the language that his readers understood and used. This was how I learned to get real.
As a songwriter write about the subjects that are important to you, use your memory to write down feelings you had at a certain time in your life eg a parent break up, happy time at the beach, when you start to tap into this you will be amazed at what you will come up with, don’t worry about any rimes just write down how you felt and perhaps a little detail, people will start to relate to you because you have touched on a subject that reaches the heart, and the language (words) will be yours. I only wish I had discovered this earlier I would have saved so much time.
You now have chords, lyrics, a title, a concept and now you are going to get real, what you need next is structure, I will explain this in the next blog, so get those ideas and feelings down on paper!
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