Songwriter Confessions #1
Looking up this week from getting a reggae backing to sound like St Ann rather than St Felicity, I spotted the small dark mist in the usual corner behind the left monitor speaker. I have sometimes believed absolutely that this is my best muse, back from a pizza run to the outer starbelt. Or maybe just the golden ring around Uranus. Anyhoo...It seems to bring inspiration in a dark way: more Keith Richards than Cliff Richard, and I feel the urge to write something that involves leather, whips and a snare drum that sounds like Pavarotti hitting the water from the top board. I dig out my file called Heavy Riffs That AC/DC Lost Under The Driver's Seat. It would help if the word MURDER appeared in the first lyric line: that always gets the bowie knives out. As Sam Goldwyn said: Start with an exploding volcano and build up from there to a climax.
I can't emphasise how important the first two lines of the first verse are, in any song.This is where you the artist set the hook in their miniscule attention spans or not. If you simper your way into a song, as per a style I like to call Captain Cliche, you've probably lost them before the second guitar comes in. Please avoid a first verse that goes like this: ooh I love you, yes it's true, what am I supposed to do, baby I know without you, all my dreams are down the loo...blah blah...
Anybody still awake? The only thing that might just save that song would be a beat strong enough to flip Lazarus out of the grave and over the horizon. I never thought that the years I spent writing ad copy for various ad agencies would be worth so much to me now. The rule in advertising is: when you've written the headline, you've spent 80c of your dollar. It's got to hook them. It's gotta say something different about a subject you've heard a million times. Take the neverending subject of LOVE ( also known as LURV...the NASTY...and BUMPING UGLIES) If I taught songwriting, one of the first projects I would set would have to be: write a song about LOVE, but make it interesting.Make it different. Make the listener say: I never thought of it that way before. Now Paul McCartney, being famous, doesn't have to work as hard as the rest of us. So he calls it: Another Silly Love Song. With a chorus that goes: iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou. Phew, Macca...time to open the window!
Here's how I do it: my song is called: If You Were Icecream... and the first verse is: If you were icecream, I would eat you, with a very small spoon... if you were starlight, I'd go to meet you, halfway to the moon... I think that's a lot more interesting than Paulie's but hey, he's famous, and I've just started kicking at the door. For more examples of how I approach first verses and songs in general, scoot along to my new site or click on the link below.
Must get into town for some new acoustic guitar strings. Haven't changed them for a year, and No..there's no direct link between underwear rotation and guitar strings. And-a one...two...three...
About the Author: Bill Dollar is a survivor of the record company wars. He currently lives on a small farm somewhere in the southern hemisphere, amongst cats,dogs and cobras.He writes songs he likes, because he's not hearing anything worthwhile on the radio. Hear what he calls music at: http://www.billdollarmusic.com