SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #14) - Guthrie

"A folk song is what's wrong and how to fix it or it could be who's hungry and where their mouth is or who's out of work and where the job is or who's broke and where the money is or who's carrying a gun and where the peace is."
- Woody Guthrie

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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #13) - Muggeridge

“In the same sort of way, listening to great music, or reading great
literature, or standing before great buildings, an inner rhythm is detected, and the heart rejoices, and a light breaks, which is none other than the love of God shining through all His creation.”
Malcolm Muggeridge (quote courtesy of Roy Salmond, purveyor of bon mots)

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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #12) - Vonnegut

“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: ‘The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.”
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (this quote courtesy of our well-read friend, Ken Wilson. Thanks, Ken!)

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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #11) - Hafiz

"Many say that life entered the human body by the help of music but the truth is that life itself is music." - Hafiz, Fourteenth Century Persian Poet (submitted by Mark D, 'cause Songville had no good 14th C Persian Poet Quotes - Thanks Mark D!)

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Write Better Lyrics #5: Is Your Lyric Abstract Where it Could Be Concrete?

Synopsis: Moving your lyrics from abstractions to concrete representations of those abstractions may be the SINGLE MOST POWERFUL change you can make as a songwriter, particularly if you write about love and/or faith.

Help Needed:
What's your favorite lyric example of a concrete standing in for an abstraction? Please share it in the comment section below. Seriously, make this somewhat abstract blog post concrete for me! Thanking ya ...

Definitions: An abstraction is a concept or idea (love, hate, hope, despair, faith, justice, democracy, etc.). To be concrete is to make reference to an actual physical object or sensation.

Example 1:
abstraction: Falling in Love
concrete: Stammering, butterflies in stomach, holding hands, sweaty hands, blushing, etc.

Example 2:
abstraction: Christian belief in Christ's sacrifice on the cross
concrete: "Sometimes love has to drive a nail into its own hand" (Chris Rice)

Context: I've been talking about key questions to ask of your lyrics to take them to the next level. So far we've looked at making sure that your SUBJECT MATTER MATTERS, that your lyric has the power that comes from SIMPLICITY AND PURITY, and that you are using SPECIFIC IMAGES that are HIGHLY RELATABLE.

That brings us to Lyric Question No. 5:

Back in the Lyric Question 3 post, we noted that the way to engage a listener in your song is through his or her imagination. In this media-saturated world, if we fail to engage a person at the imagination-level, we won’t keep her for long. Fortunately, there are Imagination Scientists who study the way the human imagination works. Whenever I teach songwriting at a local college, I reference the work of a writer and researcher named Chris Blake. His intriguing article, “The Imagination of the Listener” can be found in The Craft & Business of Songwriting by John Braheny (p.46-56).

Blake notes that when the imagination receives a new cue (for example, words in a song), it constructs an image to go with that cue based on a whole host of stored previous experiences. It turns out that the strongest cues (collections of words) are simple, concrete, action-oriented images that invite the imagination to engage. Abstractions (huge and important concepts like faith, hope, justice, anger, salvation, sin and restoration) don’t work in the imagination. They actually turn it away.

Blake has fun with the famous country song The Gambler. Remember that one?

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

The song’s writer, Don Schlitz, outlines a whole philosophy of living in that song. But what if, Blake asks, Schlitz had just gone with abstractions rather than concrete images that represent them? You’d have something like:

It’s important to know when to persist in trying to achieve your goals and when to give up.
You have to know when to decide to give up what you’re doing gradually and to know when to give up quickly.
You should never make a judgment about how your life is going while it’s going on.
There’ll be plenty of time to look back to see how it all went after your life is over.

Try singing that one!

My students laugh when I give them that example. But how many love songs do just the same thing:

I love you so much.
I will never stop loving you.
Till the end of time, you will be mine.
Blah, blah, blah

And for those of you who are worship or faith-based songwriters, herein lies a huge challenge. The vast majority of overtly spiritual music is swimming in abstraction.

I praise God for His mercy.
I am grateful for salvation.
Thank you for restoration.
God is a God of justice.

Obviously, there is a place for abstraction. Many of us are driven to write because we feel passionate about concepts and ideas, about theologies and philosophies. It would be impossible to never have abstract ideas in your lyrics. But I promise you, if you will go through your lyrics and, wherever possible, replace an abstraction with a concrete, specific, detailed symbol of embodiment of that abstraction, your lyrics will come to life.

Remember, if you hope to move someone's heart or mind, you must engage the imagination. THE IMAGINATION IS A STIMULUS-REPONSE MECHANISM. No stimulus, no response.

But ... you know ... no pressure! Write on.

Next Post in This Series: Lyric Question No. 6. Bookmark or subscribe to Songville to make sure you don't miss it!
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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #10) - Babe

"But Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored ... for in them lie the seeds of destiny."
- Narrator in Babe(yes, the movie about a pig), giving some very good songwriting advice, if you ask me.

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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #9) - Bell

"Songwriters write in isolation because they can't afford therapy. But the experience of writing the song is not complete until an audience has received it. An exchange must take place." - Steve Bell, in mighty fine concert in Surrey last night (October 17, 2008).

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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #8) - Corgan

"Songwriting for me is literally like having five people living in the same body. One day I'm an insular child-like artist, just going by emotion, the next day I'm a crass technician. The person who writes the riffs argues with the person doing the vocals. But the different personalities can work together. Sometimes my heart says 'This song needs to move,' and the tactical part suggests, 'Try a key change.' It goes back and forth until some kind of graceful compromise is reached."
- Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins)
(quoted in AND THEN I WROTE)

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World Class Musicians Make House Calls - Cool!

You've probably gotten the memo -- the internet has changed EVERYTHING. One of the very cool upsides of cyberspace is that more and more amazing musicians--the kind many of us used to dream about playing on our songs--are now making their services available online. If you're working on a recording, you can send them the song, they add their magic and send it back.

When I think of all the expense and planning I've put into securing great musicians for recordings over the years. this new accessibility kind of blows my mind!

Anyway, for those of you actively recording (or thinking about recording) your songs, I want to commend to you three musicians I regularly use on my projects, who are now doing internet sessions:

Spencer Capier (my musical partner for the past 100 years -- or something like that) -- is doing guitar, mando, violin, bouzouki and even programming, arranging and production sessions online. Check out

Phil Robertson
(the drummer on my last project, Pollyanna's Attic, and a brilliant player who's discography goes on for days) has been doing online sessions for a while now -- he makes it painless and it sounds so good. Check out

Brett Wade (incredibly versatile vocalist -- featured heavily on my Christmas:An Irrational Season project and also very in demand for his guitar work) is just launching his online site:

If you're aware of other high caliber players doing this sort of work, share them in the comment section below.

May the muse be with you!
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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #7) - Abbott & Costello

This special edition Songville quote is for Brendt, who complained because Great Quote #6 was from Elvis, rather than Lou, Costello. Songville aims to please, and fortunately we discovered a great illustration of "record label math" from the movie Buck Privates.

Abbott: Do me a favor. Loan me $50.

Costello: I can't lend you $50. All I've got is $40.

Abbott: That's okay. Give me the $40, and you'll owe me $10.

Costello: How come I owe you $10?

Abbott: What did I ask you for?

Costello: $50.

Abbott: What did you give me?

Costello; $40.
Abbott: So you owe me $10.
Costello: That's right. But you owe me $40. Give me my $40 back.

Abbott: There's your $40. Now give me the $10 you owe me. That's the last time I'll ever ask you for the loan of $50.

Costello: How can I loan you $50 now? All I have is $30.

Abbott: Give me the $30, and you’ll owe me $20.

Costello: This is getting worse all the time. First I owe you $10, and now I owe you $20!

Abbott: So you owe me $20. Twenty and 30 is 50.

Costello; Nope! Twenty-five and 25 is 50.

Abbott: Here's your $30. Give me back my $20.

Costello: All I've got now is $10!

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Write Better Lyrics #4: Is Your Lyric Obscure Where It Could Be Relatable?

We're working our way through 16 key questions to ask in order to move your lyrics from so-so to so-great. So far I've talked about making sure that your SUBJECT MATTER MATTERS, that your lyric has the power that comes from SIMPLICITY AND PURITY, and that you are using SPECIFIC IMAGES to engage your listener's imagination. (Kudos to Tony Chung, who commented that: "specific terms give your listeners a general idea, where general terms won't give your listeners anything.")

It's time for lyric question No. 4:

Songwriting is HARD. Yes, the more personal something is, the more universal. And yes, specific, detailed images with authentic importance to the songwriter translate much better than vague generalities. BUT, the caveat to all this personal expression is that the specifics you chose to incorporate in your lyric must have universal resonance to them.


Some specifics mean something to a larger audience, and some don't. "Worn gray sock" will conjure up an image for a lot of people. "Worn hydraulic actuator" is only going to mean something to a very select group of engineers. And the symbolic power of the image might be lacking.

This seems like an obvious point, but a lot of developing songwriters err on one side or the other of the scale -- lyrics that are too general, or lyrics that are so obscurely specific they only mean something to the writer and perhaps her mother. So be sure to test out your images -- sing your song for people and ask them what it means to them. One of the wonderful mysteries of creative expression is that your song will likely mean different things to different people. That's cool. But be concerned if your song means nothing to someone -- if your content is so obscure that your listener is just shut out.

So, once you've gone through your lyric and replaced any general concepts with detailed, specific images, remember: a songwriter's work is never done! Go through your lyric again and replace any obscure images with more relatable (but still detailed and specific) ones. Your listener will thank you for it by ... listening.

Of course there are always exceptions that prove the rule. Can you think of a powerful song that contains an obscure element or image? Share it in the comments section!

Also, don't miss Lyric Question Number 5! Bookmark Songville or Subscribe (for free!) to be alerted when there are new posts.
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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #6) - Costello

"There are about five things to write songs about: I'm leaving you. You're leaving me. I want you. You don't want me. I believe in something. Five subjects, and twelve notes. For all that, we musicians do pretty well."
- Elvis Costello

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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #5) - Adams

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." - Scott Adams (American Cartoonist)

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Thanks to everyone who shared their All Time Favorite Lyrics. You are a fascinating and diverse bunch with pretty great taste in music! Although the draw has now taken place, please keep up the conversation.

Above are some pictures from the "official draw". As you can see, it was a highly regulated contest.

And now ... drumroll please ... the winner of the draw is: 12-Stringer!!! Whoever you are, congratulations! Please Email Songville with your mailing address and the cd or book you'd like shipped to you from
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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #4) - Kristofferson

"All I can do is just remember that William Blake wasn't even published in his lifetime, ya gotta keep creating." - Kris Kristofferson
(quoted in AND THEN I WROTE)

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Last Day for the All-Time Favourite Lyric Draw!

Big thanks to everyone who has submitted their all time favourite lyrics so far. It's fascinating (and very instructive for songwriters) to read what moves people and stays with them. So please keep it up!

This is just a reminder that all who comment BY 11:59PM PST TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7 will be entered into a draw for a free CD or book of their choice from Your comments are certainly welcome after that date, but the draw will happen Wednesday morning.

So don't forget to check out the post and comment. Thanks!

{Update: The winner was announced here.}
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8 Songwriting Contests and a Coupla Thoughts

SOCAN (Canada's Performing Rights Organization) recently posted THIS STORY on the proliferation -- and potential value to songwriters -- of songwriting competitions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that while entering the giant contests (ISC, Unisong, John Lennon, USA and Billboard) is a bit like entering the lottery, there can still be tangible benefits to participating.

Many of the contests offer written critiques of entered songs (valuable input for the sufficiently thick-skinned) and the opportunity to expose material to an impressive list of judges. And people do win these things -- I have a couple of friends who have scored major cash prizes and made some connections through the John Lennon and USA contests.

So, if you've got a bit of disposable income to invest on your material, a songwriting contest might not be a bad idea. I've put a collection of links to various contests on the lower right side of the blog, which I'll be updating regularly. If you're aware of a new contest, or have a bad experience with a contest that we should know about, please Email Songville.

Meanwhile, here are some current links:

Songwriting Contests

Keep writing!
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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #3) - Finn

"The aim of a good song is, within the context of three minutes. to provide a couple of lines that just go 'bang' in the back of the cranium so that people go, "Yes, I know that feeling.'"
- Neil Finn

(quoted in AND THEN I WROTE)

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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #2) - Crow

"As we all know, there are only two subjects for pop songs, love ... and gasoline."
- Sheryl Crow, in concert in Vancouver last night (Oct. 4, 2008), in a playfully ironic intro to her song "Gasoline". (Concert rocked!)

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SONGVILLE SAYS (Great Quote #1) - Seeger

"Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple"
– Pete Seeger

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Write Better Lyrics #3: Is Your Lyric General Where it Could Be Specific?

OK, so your SUBJECT MATTER MATTERS and your lyric has the power that comes from SIMPLICITY AND PURITY. But your lyric still ain't singing the way you know it can.

It's time for lyric question No. 3:


The way to a listener’s heart, mind and soul is the imagination. In this media-saturated world, if we fail to engage a person at the imagination-level, we won’t keep her for long. Fortunately, there are Imagination Scientists who study the way the human imagination works. (I love picturing guys in white lab coats with pocket protectors playing AC/DC, Randy Travis and Sara Groves for human subjects and measuring corresponding brain waves. Then again, if that's what amuses me, perhaps I need a new hobby.)

Anyway, whenever I teach songwriting at a local college, I reference the work of a writer and researcher named Chris Blake. His intriguing article, “The Imagination of the Listener” can be found in The Craft and Business of Songwriting (in my view, the definitive songwriting textbook) by John Braheny (p.46-56).

Blake notes that when the imagination receives a new cue (for example, words in a song or on paper), it constructs an image to go with that cue based on a whole host of stored previous experiences. It turns out that the strongest cues (collections of words) are simple, concrete, action-oriented images that invite the imagination to engage. Our next several lyric questions will key in on the ways we can best trigger the listener's imagination.

Specific images are more engaging than general ones. Most listeners, for example, will be able to picture a "single gray feather" better than they can picture "a flock of birds." So, take a look at your lyrics, and try the following:

1. Anywhere you mention a general place or thing, see if there is a more specific, evocative image that can replace the general reference.
One of my favorite examples of this is "Walkaway Joe", recorded by Trisha Yearwood and written by Vince Melamed and Greg Barnhill. The girl waits in a gas station parking lot as the guy robs the cashier ... the lyric says "She's waiting in the car/Underneath the Texaco Star". Not only do I have an immediate picture of where she is, there is also the resonance of all her misguided dreams as they relate to "stars". That there is good writing.

2. Add sensory information wherever you can. Don't just talk about a "car'. Let us know the make or the color or the way it smells or how the engine hums. Pull us in.

3. Bonus points for metaphoric resonance. "Chevy" or "Rolls" mean more than "car", not only because they're more specific (allowing us to picture the car better), but because they immediately put us into certain eras, social classes, or mentalities.

4. Pick specifics that have "universality" to them. In other words, provide specific images that people will be familiar with in some way. If a listener can't picture what you're describing, his imagination will be repelled.
Universality is subjective, of course. I love the specifics Lyle Lovett puts into songs, even when he includes the names of relatives (in a song like "Family Reserve"). Though I don't know his relatives, by referring to them by name he helps me relate to them as specific people rather than general concepts.
I debated long and hard about doing the same thing in a song called Great Cloud of Witnesses. I was afraid that by referring to my grandparents and friends by name I would shut the listener out. But in the end I decided that the specificity of their names made them more concrete. And listener reaction confirmed this. Don't be afraid to "test out" your specifics (you can even get a lab coat and pocket pretender if you want!) to see if they work.

Remember, specificity = engagement. Be ruthless with your lyrics. Don't let a lame duck, general idea just lay there when a specific image will so much more for you.

Next Post in This Series: Lyric Question No. 4. Bookmark or subscribe to Songville to make sure you don't miss it!

Till then -- can you think of a great lyric that thrives on specificity? Or do you disagree with this approach? What helps you engage with the words of a song?
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There's a series underway here at Songville about Writing Great Lyrics. But defining and identifying great lyrics is a subjective process. So ... we need to hear from you.

What is the one lyric you would hold up as great writing? What line makes you fist-pump or cry or gasp in astonishment? What lyric do you use as your email signature file or incessantly quote to your friends?

Please share it in the comments section below. Not only will your input help us all to think about what makes great writing work, you could also win stuff! On October 8, we'll draw randomly from the names of all who have commented, and we'll mail the winner their choice of any one CD or book from

So tell us ... what does a great lyric sound like? Include the lyric itself (anything from a single line to a stanza), the name of the song, the composer, and the name of the artist who recorded it (if different from the composer.) And feel free to argue or agree with each other about the merit of each lyric.

(Every time you comment, you get another entry in the draw. We know this is shameless bribery. But hey, the ends justify the means. This is a conversation worth having.)

{Update: The winner was announced here. Keep up the conversation!}
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Write Better Lyrics: Is Your Lyric Complex Where it Could Be Simple?

Sometimes a lyric taunts its writer, stubbornly remaining almost-great despite repeated efforts to make it fully-great. In my previous post I promised to share 16 questions you can ask of your lyric in order to identify the tweaks necessary to take it from fine to fantastic.

Here is Lyric Question No. 2:


The goal of asking this question is NOT to dumb down your lyrics or pander to lowest common denominators. Deep and challenging lyrics are encouraged here! But think about the five most profound lines you've ever heard in song, poetry or prose. Chances are, part of what made those lines so brilliant was that they took a highly complex idea and made it suddenly clear.

When I suggest your lyrics be simple, I am really referring to this definition of simplicity:
- "Having or composed of only one thing, element, or part"
- "The quality of being simple or uncompounded; 'the simplicity of a crystal'"

You want your lyric to be brilliantly focused--crystal clear. So another way to ask Lyric Question No. 2 would be:


I can still remember my first publisher calling me after I'd mailed in my latest masterpiece and saying: "There's a good song in here somewhere. In fact there are 7 good songs in here. Pick the ONE THING this particular song is going to be about and write me 6 other songs with the rest." Over time (and via numerous less-than-effective, scattered songs), I learned that while complicated lines might dazzle and impress, simple, focussed lyrics stand a much better chance of engaging and moving a listener.

For each lyric you write, you should be able to identify a single, central idea (hopefully embodied in an undeniably great lyrical hook). Then, you should be able to draw a direct line of connetion from every other line of the song back to that central idea. If you find some rogue lines, remove them, no matter how amazing they are. They can be the foundation of your next masterpiece.

Take a look at your latest lyric. You should be able to summarize the concept of your song in 1 sentence, and the emotion of your song in 1 word. If you can't, continue to sift and refine until you can. Remember, you are writing a song, not a novel or essay or even a poem. The good news is, if craft and inspiration meet up and weather conditions are just right, a song can sometimes let you say more in a single line that you could with hundreds, even thousands, of other words.

Remember, focus = power. And simplicity does NOT equal stupidity or vacuity. We want the sort of undiluted purity that allows us, in the words of William Blake,

To see a World in a grain of sand,
And Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

Keep it real. Keep it simple. Keep writing.

Do you agree with the idea that the most profound lyrics are often the simplest and most focussed? Or do you actually prefer more enigmatic or complex writing? Argue your viewpoint in the comment section below!

Also, don't miss Lyric Question Number 3! Bookmark Songville or Subscribe (for free!) to be alerted when there are new posts.
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Write Better Lyrics: Does Your Subject Matter Matter?

You've slaved over your lyric for hours, days, weeks, months, years. ("Years" is not uncommon, by the way. Rome wasn't written in a day.) But you have that nagging feeling that something isn't quite right. Unless you are an excessively-tortured-artist-who-is-never-satisfied (rather than the more normative periodically-tortured-artist-who-is-seldom-satisfied), your instinct is probably right: Your lyric needs more work.

But where to begin?

Over a couple of decades of banging my head against the songwriting wall, I've found myself asking the same 15 or so questions to try to get to the bottom of lyric problems. In the hopes of saving your forehead at least a little bruising, I'm going to share these questions with you.

So -- here is Lyric Question No. 1:


The other questions we'll go through are much more applied and specific, but before you start analyzing the trees of your song, take a giant step back and look at the forest. Is this song justifying its space on the planet? That seems like a harsh question, I know, but some songs just plain don't work conceptually.

That doesn't mean the song has been a waste of energy. ALL time spent writing builds creative muscle. Plus, if a song turns out to be a write-off, you can strip it for parts (take the best lines and write something else.) For each song on my first album, I can show you ten others I needed to write in order to work my way to a keeper. The process is always valuable.

Still, lovely (and true) sentiments about the value of the journey aside, most writers prefer to arrive at satisfactory destinations. So, at each stage of the song's creation, ask yourself, DOES MY SUBJECT MATTER MATTER? In other words, is the idea I'm working on big enough or clever enough or funny enough or universal enough or moving enough or striking enough or original enough to support a whole, entire song?

The first time I ever had a co-writing session it was with a seasoned Nashville vet named Niles Borop. I was twenty-one and newly signed to a publishing deal; I was practically vibrating with excitement and nerves and ambition. I asked Niles what advice he had for a rookie and he said, "Never waste three and a half minutes of someone's time."

Niles told me that to reach out through a car radio ( he would have said "ipod," if it had been invented yet) and brazenly steal three or four minutes of a stranger's life is no small thing. He told me not to take it lightly, and I've been haunted by that sense of sacred responsibility ever since. (Gee, thanks Niles. Couldn't you have just said "Always end on the I chord?")

So now, I want to haunt you with the same question. Is this song worth your listener's time? It doesn't have to be War and Peace (in fact, it's probably better if it's not.) But it does have to be three important things:

1. The song's subject matter must matter to you.
You should have some sort of emotional connection with whatever it is you are writing about. It can be a subject you feel passionate about, or one that makes you laugh, but you cannot be indifferent to it. If you're indifferent, just imagine how your audience will feel.

When I signed my first publishing deal (which was primarily to write songs for other artists), I immediately started writing much more generic, non-personal songs, on the theory that if I put too much of myself into a song no other singer would be comfortable singing it. In actuality, what I was doing was writing Really Bad Songs. I wasn't invested enough in my subject matter, so the songs came out inauthentic and passionless. I learned over time that often the more personal something is, the more universal it is. Weird, but true.

2. The song's subject matter should matter to other people.
The whole world doesn't have to be into your subject, by any means, but some segment of the population should be able to find a point of connection. This is the caveat to the "Be-personal-to-be-universal" principle mentioned above: If what you're writing is SO unique to your own situation that no one else can relate, well, then, no one else will. They also won't listen very long.

3. There should be something about the song that makes it different from all other songs.
That sounds a bit daunting, doesn't it? But the truth is, however passionate you might feel about, say, breaking up with someone you love, and however much other people might be able to relate to your pain, there are already a LOT of songs about breaking up. Your song will only be compelling if you've found a hook or approach that is fresh or somehow unique. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but you should spin it in an original way. We'll talk about this a lot more as we work through the other Lyric Questions.

You would think it would be obvious to a songwriter when the subject matter doesn't matter. But creativity, like love, is sometimes blind. You may need to get the feedback of a few trusted friends to determine if your song has a conceptual or foundational weakness. If it becomes apparent that such is indeed the case, do not despair! It may be possible to rework the song, or to take the strong portions and write something else. Regardless, you haven't wasted your time. Take what you've learned and apply it to subject matter that really matters to you.

Next post: Lyric Question No. 2

See you soon! Till then, write on.

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Pop Rules from Jim Vallance

Not everyone is writing for the masses, but if you do want to write songs that will be accessible to large groups of people, here are:

Jim Vallance's Succinct Rules for Pop Songwriting

"After listening to the first verse and chorus of a song, there should be no doubt about the song's title. Also, after listening to a song, just once, anyone should be able to hum the chorus melody. If your song doesn't pass either of these tests, then it's probably destined for obscurity. There's nothing wrong with obscure songs, but really, who doesn't want to hear their song on the radio?"

(interviewed in Songwriters Magazine's Summer 2008 issue)

I've noticed something about titles. It's been popular in recent years to have a lyrical hook that, in the old days, would have been the title, but then to call the song something else, often a one or two syllable, highly cryptic word. I suspect some writers do this because it seems more artistic and less pandering.

I also think this is a generational thing. I once tried to be cool like the other kids, calling a song "Last Thursday" even though the lyrical hook was "Call Me Crazy". In the ten years since the song was released, I've never had anyone refer to the song as anything but "Call Me Crazy," ever. So much for being cool.

Anyway, if you don't want to give the song an obvious title, in most cases it is still very wise to have a definite lyrical hook. (And, as per Vallance's advice, the lyrical hook should be clear by the end of chorus one.) If there's any chance the song will wind up on the radio, you might want to at least make the lyrical hook a subtitle, so that you have a snowball's chance of getting the song requested by name.

Or you can just be old school and let the hook be the title. I'm kind of into that. Call me crazy.
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Coming Soon!

Songville is just being set-up.
Come back soon!
Because talking about songwriting is sometimes more fun than actually doing it.
Especially when you're stuck.
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