Writing Lyrics.

JoebuddhaJoebuddha Posts: 2,143
edited December 1969 in Songwriting
I have to say that although I feel in retrospect that I have written some pretty good lyrics in the past, lyric writing has always been the most difficult part of songwriting for me.  I can write an entire song, chords, riffs, melody, arrangement and even the solo in an hour or two. But then it could take me weeks of painstaking effort to write lyrics for that song.
I work much better in collaboration with another lyricist or singer, I'm great at titles and song topics. But once it comes to actually getting the story it out it takes me forever to get the words right.


  • IsaacIsaac Posts: 3,088
    I've only recently started writing lyrics, and I've only got full sets for a few songs. I find that the first couple verse I write are always more flowing inspired, I have trouble sustaining the quality of the lyrics as I continue writing.

    It's hard to write something that will flow with music, but still has something to say. Lyrics are a very important part of the music for me, so I try to make them something that won't make me cringe.

    I don't want to hijack your thread Joe, but I think it'd be pretty cool if the Dino's posted cool lyrics that they've written, or topics they've written on. Maybe it would give us some inspiration?
  • JoebuddhaJoebuddha Posts: 2,143
      I used to say that I had to live a crazy life so I could have stuff to write about and truthfully since my life settled down about 7 years ago it is harder to write. When I was in and out of relationships in my 20's and my wife and I first got together and were living the Rock N Roll lifestyle it was easier.
    But now I find myself writing about things like how much I love my daughter and the fact that nothing in NYC is the same anymore.

  • maybeyesmaybeyes Posts: 4,522
    There are really two types of inspirations for lyrics:  Personal experience and fantasy.  While I can write from a fantasy perspective based on a movie, book, imaginations, etc, I find that I prefer to write from a personal experience perspective.  So yeah I will write about the love I have for my children, but with teens I can also write about the emotional roller-coaster of life.  Sometimes, I can do like you Joe and write the structure of the song fairly quickly, not sure as quick as you, and the lyrics take a while.  Even when I write then quickly, they get tweeked for some time before I am happy with them.  Some  get down immediately, even when I am not satisfied so I don't loose the inspiration and thread.  That way I can come back later to fix it up.

    Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

  • inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,704
    I was thinking about a child sitting in his room. He's scared because he hears his parents fighting again. He's beat down and hurts and needs an escape.

    (In the voice of Kermit the Frog who happens to be sitting on a mushroom when he gains the scared child's attention).

    Lyrics to "Whiskers, Wings and Tails" by R. Miller, (inmyhands).

    Verse 1

    Welcome to this place where flights of fantasy prevail
    in this land of whiskers, wings and tails.
    Sit beside a mushroom glowing pink and blue and green
    Listen to the flying kittens sing.

    Verse 2

    What are real and what are not are blended till they bring
    life into a simple childhood dream.
    Apples change from red to blue and billy goats go moo
    If you're sad this place was built for you.

    Refrain 1

    When you fall or sadness calls
    and tears come to your eyes.
    Fill your mind with thoughts of times
    you came here and you'll find ...

    Verse 3

    That keeping dreams of cats with wings and turtles having fun
    make the bad times turn away and run.
    And in their place you'll find a space of sympathy and warmth
    where you can stay until the sad times done.

    Refrain 2

    Cherry springs with fish that bring
    a lemonade to you.
    Unicorns with candy horns
    that chase away the blues.

    Verse 4

    Welcome to this place where everything is as you please
    in this land of stingless bumble bees
    where every day's a piece of clay that you can mold into
    just the kind of day that's right for you.
  • mr_crowleymr_crowley Posts: 6,653
    I am don't pay much attention to lyrics if isn't a band I am very much into - probably becuase english isn't my mother tongue.

    So my lyrics usually ends up very silly and cringeworthy. I do notice though that I automatically write different type of lyrics depending on what kind of song it is.
    Heavy stuff usually ends up being about psychopaths, murders and alcoholics.
    For more "pop-metal" stuff I tend to go with the clichés before even realizing..
    And I usually start with some kind of title and work from there ...

    Here I share some of my stuff - I am sure you will feel a lot better after reading this and got a laugh too :up:

    Dreaming your darkest dreams
    When it all seems real
    When it haunts you
    When it taunts you
    When it bringing you down on your knees

    When you shut your eyes
    When you lose your mind
    When it's out of control
    Drowning your soul

    Turn around bitch I'm your backdoor lover
    Always working undercover
    C'mon baby don't be shy
    I just want a slice of your pie

    It's better to burn out than fade away
    Come with me we hit the highway

    :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:

    Then I check out Poison's lyrics and don't feel very bad about my own :wink:

  • IsaacIsaac Posts: 3,088
    Crowley, those lyrics sound exactly like a Ratt song, maybe less juvenile even... :up:
  • otcconanotcconan Posts: 5,690
    I heard Weird Al on NPR today and he said his Webster's Rhyming Dictionary is dogeared all to hell.  Hehe.

    I have never used one.

    I try to tell a story, and my rhymes are often not exact; I might rhyme "pass" with "past" or somesuch.  Close enough I think

    One little verse I've always been kind of proud of comes from the Umlaut song, "Pain Elemental."

    "Soon my time will come and all the pain will come to pass
    All the work I've done will grow like evil blades of grass
    Then and only then will even Satan come to kneel
    And all the dogs of Hell will come to me and they will heel."

    But, then again, my mom is a former school teacher and a scrabble champion so I've got somewhat of a vocabulary.
  • IsaacIsaac Posts: 3,088
    The chorus for one of the songs I'm working on now is:

    Time is ticking it's impressions in the sky
    We watch it all fall away
    Face it with a grin, or face it with a sigh
    Fade into another day
  • AgrippaAgrippa Posts: 5,980
    I love a band with intelligent lyrics, and that´s a wide mark in my book. I actually feel that Bon Scott was a gifted lyricist.

    I like Neil Peart (From Permenant Waves and up).
    Old Blue Oyster Cult lyrics were willingly weird, but often quite good imho, and very tongue in cheek:
    "I got a whip, in my hand baby, and a Girl or a Husky, at leathers end, it´s allright, my baby knows it´s allright."
    "She´d like to do it, with my big black dog, she just don´t know how to ask."

    And I was reading Neil Youngs lyrics to his latest (LeNoise) the other day, and they were actually quite good.

    My absolute fave lyricist is Steve Kilbey of The Church:

    Deadman´s hand:

    "On our way to crush a revolution
    Wilderness and the burning bush
    The Enemy seek our dissolution
    All he needs is a little push
    And we´ve all known hurt
    And we´re all gonna find it here in this dirt".

    Or this one:
    Shadow Cabinet

    "She offered her chaos to me
    Proffered herself languidly
    The eldritch bitch must have muddled her spells
    Tinges of Persia, I hope that it sells
    Chemical nuptials and ringing the bells
    It's heavenly I say
    Then one winter morning you walk through the trees
    But they cut them all down for the factories
    Made this pretty cabinet and gave you the keys
    It's hardly used I think

    Must be thirsty, drink, drink, sink, forget
    Must be empty inside the shadow cabinet"

    God, I wish I could come up with word images like that.

    In my own band I became the lyricist by default, much like I became the vocalist;
    I was the least worst.
    No, you don´t get to see any, cheeky bastards.
  • JoebuddhaJoebuddha Posts: 2,143
    Superman by Joe Todaro

    Sometimes I wish that I were Superman
    And I could do everything that he can
    I'd bend steel bars to impress my friends
    Fly to work and then back home again
    But I know it ain't true
    Cause I can't see through you
    and you'd be my Lois Lane too
    and I would be your Superman

    I wish I had a Fortress of Solitude
    Cause all my friends would think the coolest dude
    But I don't think that I would wear those tights
    But I know the cape it would fit just right

    But I know it ain't true
    Cause I can't see through you
    and you'd be my Lois Lane too
    and I would be your Superman

    I would be hanging out with the Justice League
    Wonder Woman seems like such a tease
    and me and Green Lantern you know we'd fly through space
    and the Flash and I yeah we'd have a race

      But I know it ain't true
    Cause I can't see through you
    and you'd be my Lois Lane too
    and I would be your Superman

    This is an old song of mine ( like 10 years) that I've started performing again recently and it's going over way better than it did 10 years ago.

  • AgrippaAgrippa Posts: 5,980
    COOL !

    I like it !

    reminds me of course of the Kinks.

    "I looked in the Mirror at my pidgin chest,
    I had to put on my clothes because it made me depressed"

    "I´m So Scared, I´m So Thin.
    I wish I could fly but I can´t even swim."

    You can now consider your lyrics compared to Ray Davis.
    That´s a compliment in my book !

  • JoebuddhaJoebuddha Posts: 2,143
    Thanks Dude!!
    I had forgotten all about that Kinks tune.
  • I love the idea of Fantasy based lyricism i.e. Maiden, but I find my self getting sucked into narrating  too much and wondered if any of you had any advice to avoid that pitfall.
  • Tatosh GuitarTatosh Guitar Posts: 2,318
    I love the idea of Fantasy based lyricism i.e. Maiden, but I find my self getting sucked into narrating  too much and wondered if any of you had any advice to avoid that pitfall.
    Wow, talk about necro-thread!!

    i am not sure how qualified I am to answer this, since I can’t write a lyric to save my life (I can sing, I can write articles and essays, and I am quite good guitar solo composer, I will give myself that) but I totally suck at song lyrics. Anyway, Are you singing this or writing for somebody else to sing the words? I ask because not even Maiden avoided this you describe. Dickinson would complain that Harris would write words that “don’t fit on a human mouth”, meaning as a bass olayer he didn’t really get that somebody was supposed to sing that stuff. My advice is don’t fall in love with your words too much,  if you feel it’s too much, it totally is, and if you can sing or imagine the lyrics being sung and it fits then it’s probably ok. If it doesn’t, scrap it.
  • That’s good advice-it’s one thing to recite a line in a monologue, but a different thing altogether to sing it.

    I suppose I should study more lyrics along that vein and find out for myself what goes down smoothly and whst gets me marble-mouthed.

    Again, good advice TG-thanks!
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