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Have You Tried Outlining Your Song?

If you have the basic idea for a song – the Chorus and/or the Title – sometimes the lyrics for the Verses and the Bridge (if there is one) fall right into line.  Other times… not so much. Often you have one verse and aren’t sure where to go with the others.  Or there’s a […]

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One Way To Break the ‘Rules’ of Songwriting: Iron & Wine’s ‘The Trapeze Swinger’

There aren’t really any ‘rules’ to Songwriting. Maybe one: Don’t bore the listener. But there are traditions and customs, things that tend to work better than others, mostly having to do with the use of structure – Verses, Choruses, Bridges, rhyming, length, etc. But one thing I’ve noticed is that when I analyze a song […]

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Your Song’s Title – A Missed Opportunity?

Most songs are Title-oriented, so getting as much mileage as possible out of the Title makes a big difference.  To illustrate this, I’m going to look at the lyrics of two songs – Bob Seger’s Like A Rock and Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown.  I recommend you give the original recordings of these songs a listen. Both […]

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Themes Obsessive & Habitual

In our lyrics, we tend to write about the same things over and over.  We all have our themes: love, romantic love, romance, sexual love, sex, loss. commitment, betrayal, optimism, skepticism, joy, anger, heartbreak, even obsession itself… among many others… They seem to embed themselves in our songs no matter how we try to guide […]

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The Delicate Balance: Music & Lyrics

Every song, by definition, balances music and lyrics.  How well a song works often has to do with how well that balance is struck. On the spectrum of great songwriting, I think of Burt Bacharach and Hal David as being at one extreme.  Complicated music, direct lyrics.  The simple perfection of David’s lyrics can often […]

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Modern Songwriting starts with Chuck Berry

Welcome to a weekly blog I’ll be writing on songwriting- and music-related subjects! I couldn’t think of a better place to start than with Chuck Berry.  It’s easy to take him for granted at this point in musical history… but that would be a mistake.  Even though a lot of his songs (like Johnny B. […]

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