What's the story? Seriously, there should be one. A plot, I mean. One that progresses so we can follow it. One that reveals and supports your 'something' that you want to say, the very point of your song.
'Story is at the heart of any great song. A great story is usually more engaging than fancy prose and rhyme.....stories are neither mysterious nor hard to find. All you need is a character with desire....people desire love, money, fame, safety and many other things. Story is created when a character wishes, dreams, risks, acts or dies in pursuit of one of these things....'
Songs can handle great drama, with dire consequences.
Delilah I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window I saw the flickering shadows of love on her blind She was my woman As she deceived me I watched and went out of my mind
My my my Delilah Why why why Delilah I could see, that girl was no good for me But I was lost like a slave that no man could free
At break of day when that man drove away I was waiting I crossed the street to her house and she opened the door She stood there laughing I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more
My my my Delilah Why why why Delilah So before they come to break down the door Forgive me Delilah I just couldn't take any more
Write your story down in prose as if you were telling it to a very good friend. Without worrying what's going to actually be in your song lyrically, write down what will happen in your song in normal, everyday conversational language, as if you were spilling the beans to a really close friend, who is hanging on your every word. Write it down word for word.
'If you can step back from yourself and remember that your listeners may have no idea who you are, the emphasis is put back on the story and you are forced to paint a picture of your characters. Remember, it's your listeners who will be identifying with the 'I" in your song'.
This story technique also makes you work in a linear narrative style - this happened, then that and then that. We hear songs sung in real time, often for the first time in everyday places like supermarkets and shopping malls, cars and dentist waiting rooms. We don't always have the lyrics in front of us to read. So, the story has to be clear, easy to understand, and progressive, literally moving forward. Ask yourself (and answer!) these three questions to help work out your song’s story. 1. What actually happens in your song? 2. Who does it happen to? 3. What is your song about?
Look forward to reading your answers!
Talk more soon
ps if you want to immerse yourself in songwriting, you might like to try our Songwriters' Retreat next year at Waitangi weekend in Hanmer Springs.