I recently wrote a song call ‘Rise To Your Love’. Given the feel of the song, the vibe – it’s a simple, almost gospelly song – I thought the Title worked well.
The Chorus repeated “(I’m gonna) Rise To Your Love” three times, with the same melody each time.
A friend of mine, a trusted listener, asked me if I had any new songs to play her. I played a few, which she seemed to like. When I got to ‘Rise To Your Love’ I had expectations of a good reception.
At the end, though, she said something like, “I don’t understand that at all. What are you singing about in the Chorus? Something about ‘Rice In Your Glove’? What is that??”
To me, the words (‘Rise To Your Love’) seemed obvious. But I was the only one hearing them that way. Given the melody and my vocal inflections, she simply understood them differently (‘Rice In Your Glove’…?). And if she had that problem, I know other listeners would too.
I was lucky to get a heads up. At least in the way I was phrasing the words and melody, my idea wasn’t translating. Something as crucial as the Title wasn’t coming across, so the rest of song didn’t hang together.
This kind of thing also happened to me a while back when I wrote a song called ‘Broken In New York’. Everyone thought I was singing, “Broke And In New York’. (In retrospect the potential for confusion seems obvious …) Not as bad as ‘Rice In Your Glove’ but still not what I intended.
Before I take a song public – perform it, record it, etc. – it’s always good to play it for a trusted listener or two. Or to a handful of songwriters in a workshop. People who are hip to songs and sympathetic to what I’m trying to do but will also tell me, in a kind and supportive way, the truth as they hear it.
I don’t always agree with them, or follow their suggestions, but that reality check has saved me from making bigger mistakes when there were higher stakes and larger audiences.
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