Wednesday, June 19, 2019

5 Tips for Writing Better Lyrics

A lot of people want to write songs these days, but unfortunately a lot of what you hear on the radio isn't worth listening to. So what's an aspiring songwriter to do when there isn't much to inspire. Well, fortunately, there have been generations of great songs and songwriters of the past that we can look back on and explore some of their techniques. By bringing these old school techniques and looking at them afresh with modern eyes we will be able to add them to our songwriting tool box and make our songs much better. So here are five tips for writing better lyrics.

1. Read Poetry - I know, I know, conventional wisdom states that songs are not poems. Well, sadly conventional wisdom (and a lot of popular modern songwriters) are wrong. Songs are poems set to music. The best songwriters of all time were great poets: Bob Dylan, Sting, Paul Simon, Bernie Taupin. All of these guys knew how to make a great poem, and thus their songs were great because of it.

2. Get Out Into Nature - Whenever I am in nature, listening to the sound of waterfalls, or birds tweeting or crickets chirping, I can't help but be inspired. There's something about the restfulness of the wilderness that gets my mind in a songwriting mood. Maybe it'll work for you as well. Give it a try.

3. Practice Using Sensory Words - Sensory Words are words that turn on the senses. By using them they immediately make you feel something, or they illicit the memory of a feeling. These types of words tug at people's emotions and give the song you are writing real impact.

4. Read Songs As Poems - Go online, or get a book of lyrics from your favorite songwriter, and read their songs as if they were poetry. Strip them away from the music, and see what makes the lyrics tick. Maybe by doing so you will get some inspiration that you would not have noticed otherwise from just listening to the song as a whole.

5. Be Ambiguous - You don't need to spell everything out. You can allude to things without actually describing every detail. Also, by being ambiguous you leave room for the listener to insert their own ideas and feelings into the song, so that where you might have meant the song to mean one thing, to them it might mean something totally different. And that's ok, because it ministers to you both.

Bonus Tip:

6. Use Metaphors - Get good at using metaphors to describe other concrete things. Are you looking at a cat? Or would it be better to describe it as a "vestigial lion?" Is it an apple, or is it "Eve's Downfall?"

You can find out more about songwriting tips and tricks in my new book: "Lyrics and Music: Music Theory for Aspiring Songwriters" available now at, or with several additional Appendices at Barnes and Noble..;jsessionid=6F73A94CC7BEF9C130CFFEF90E7B8008.prodny_store01-atgap06?ean=9781987082869

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