Song Doctor Blog
Read about how to write better songs
What is your song about?
I've been enjoying alt pop artist Caroline Polachek's new release ' Bunny is a Rider' - heck of a hook, lots of ear candy and danceable, with quirk and some edge. The lyrics provoked some discussion 'at home'.
On first listen, the title was utterly recognisable and memorable. Some words leapt out - excuse the pun - offering surprise and intrigue ( dirty like it's earth day ) So when I was asked 'what's the song actually about', I couldn't immediately say but I knew there was a 'bunny' and she wasn't just there for the pellets. And I certainly wanted to hear the track again.
I was forcibly reminded of the idea put forward by Casey Kelly and David Hodge in their very readable book The Complete Idiots Guide to the Art of Songwriting
You should be able to say what your song is about in one declarative sentence: it's a song about a woman dating a married man, or it's a song in which the singer has just realised he is in love with someone he thought was just a friend....Your job as a songwriter is to describe common feelings & situations in a way that will make listeners identify with what the singer is saying & bring their own experiences into your song.
You shouldn't have to go to a lecture to get what the song's about, but it should be about something we can understand, something we can relate to in some way, something we 'get'.
Here's Caroline Polachek's 'declarative sentence', supported by a character reference and an invitation to explore the nuances and join in.
‘Bunny Is a Rider is a summer jam about being unavailable. Bunny is slippery, impossible to get ahold of. Maybe it’s a fantasy, maybe it’s a bad attitude. But anyone can be bunny, at least for three minutes and seventeen seconds.'
Thanks, Caroline! And by the way, a declarative sentence is a sentence that asserts the truth or falsehood of something.
Full lyric here.
ps Songwriting School's second songwriting class starts this Wednesday Aug 4. This will be the last class on offer for the year. Email or ring to inquire or to subscribe. Only 2 spots left.
pps Here's a downloadable link for more info on the upcoming Songwriting Retreats based at beautiful Tahora. Don't miss your spot!