Lyrics and Luggage

You’ve got a verse with three solid lines but you can’t quite find that fourth and final line—the one that brings it all home. You’ve been fishing for it for maybe 15 minutes or maybe an hour, strumming, singing, trying, trying, trying. You know it’s there somewhere. It’s glimmering in the corner of your eyeContinue reading “Lyrics and Luggage”

John Prine Interview on Songwriting and Life

What can I say about John Prine that hasn’t been said? He was like a grandpa to me—and every other songwriter. His songs were magical and his character was impeccable. He’ll be sorely missed, but never forgotten. Below is an entertaining and enlightening 90-minute interview Prine did with CBS promoting his final masterpiece, The TreeContinue reading “John Prine Interview on Songwriting and Life”

Think, Think, Think, Pause, Aha!: A Creativity Technique for Writing Song Lyrics and Titles

We’ve all had this experience: You’re in a conversation. As the other person is talking, you have a thought you want to share. But when it’s your turn to talk, suddenly you can’t remember it. “Hang on a second,” you say. “It’ll come to me.” Then you think and think and think and think and…Continue reading “Think, Think, Think, Pause, Aha!: A Creativity Technique for Writing Song Lyrics and Titles”

How to Write Lyrics That Are Both Meaningful and Memorable

The best lyrics say something meaningful in a memorable way. That’s the balance we’re all trying to strike in our writing. But often when we succeed in getting one half of the equation, we lack the other: Problem #1: Your lyrics sound poetic but say nothing Problem #2: Your lyrics say something but lack poetryContinue reading “How to Write Lyrics That Are Both Meaningful and Memorable”

I Wish I Wrote That: “Signed, Sober You” by HARDY

I love it when a song just levels me with sheer craft. Like… it’s so good, it makes me mad. But it also makes me smile. And I can’t decide whether I want to pick up a guitar or throw in the towel once and for all. Yes, when that happens you know you’ve stumbledContinue reading “I Wish I Wrote That: “Signed, Sober You” by HARDY”

In Songwriting, One Word is All it Takes

It never fails to fascinate me how one word can unlock an entire song. I was in the gym the other day and “Speechless” by Dan + Shay was playing. It was the first time I’d heard it, and it was instantly memorable. With that one word they did what so many of us songwritersContinue reading “In Songwriting, One Word is All it Takes”

How tall is your song?

So you’ve written a song. Now, how do you play it? To me, the answer often comes down to understanding the nature of your song. In other words, its character. How tall or short is it? What does it like to wear? Is it weepy or joyous? Does it bark at you, or sing youContinue reading “How tall is your song?”

Trust yourself

When Paul McCartney was writing “Hey Jude,” he played it in half-finished form for John Lennon. When he got to the line, “The movement you need is on your shoulder,” he leaned over to John and mouthed, “I’ll change that bit.” “You won’t, you know,” said John. John felt those were some of the best lyricsContinue reading “Trust yourself”

On Writing Lyrics: Would you say it to a friend that way?

It’s hard to open yourself up sometimes in songwriting. We don’t want to look foolish. Or give away too much. Because of this mindset, we often obscure our lyrics. We try to “poeticize” them. Or substitute in fancy words or convoluted metaphors. But in most cases, the only person impressed by complicated writing is the person holdingContinue reading “On Writing Lyrics: Would you say it to a friend that way?”

On Writing Lyrics: Turn on the Focus, then Turn on the Faucet

People often talk about how writing lyrics is the hardest part of songwriting. And I tend to agree. It’s so hard that we often psych ourselves out before we even write a single line. It goes something like this: We sit with a blank sheet of paper in front of us, a guitar in hand,Continue reading “On Writing Lyrics: Turn on the Focus, then Turn on the Faucet”