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Why are there so many lyric-only folks?

Posted By: Kevin Emmrich

Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 05:59 PM

I just don't get it. Without music, it is just not a song. It seems to me that any aspiring songwriter has to (mandatory, required, no excuses) learn how to play the piano or guitar to at least make suitable work tapes. It would take no longer than 12 months for the "average bear" to become proficient enough on an instrument to compose at least pretty straight forward tunes.

Plus there's BIAB and other tools that can come up with pretty decent musical backings for any one who has learned the simplest basics of chord theory (it will only take a year).

So, what's stopping you lyric-only folks?

Kevin

P.S. Don't take offense -- I really want to know.
Posted By: Ray E. Strode

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 06:36 PM

Well,
There are no shortcuts to success. I advise anyone who wants to be a songwriter to learn to play an instrument. You can buy a good guitar for a song these days. It does take dedication.
Posted By: beechnut79

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 06:41 PM

I do feel that we have come a long way from the days when tabloid magazines listed ads for song lyrics to be set music to. No doubt some of them were scams. One time I was contacted by an outfit in California called Hilltop. They wanted a $360 fee, which is about double what I got my demo done for. I believe lyricists like myself come to a board like this primarily to seek out collaborators as well as to get feedback. At least that was my case.

I also believe there are people who have melodies in mind but are afraid something they come up might sound too much like a well-known song that could end up in the courts in our overly litigious society.
Posted By: Nadia

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 06:52 PM

Why don't you worry about writing well known lyrics then? I rememeber speaking to someone about this. She never worries that her lines could be similar to something. Composers often have this fear that their music sounds like someone else's but I don't hear from lyricists that they feel that way.
Posted By: Joe Wrabek

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 06:59 PM

I differ. I don't think somebody who writes lyrics has got to learn to play an instrument, or write music. Yes, it helps. But not everybody's strength lies in that direction.

For years 'n' years, songs were team efforts, in the pattern Tin Pan Alley made famous (though it had been going on for a few hundred years before that)--one person wrote the lyrics, and another wrote the music. Until real recently, Nashville still worked like that.

I would agree that lyrics only are not going anywhere in the music industry; they never have. If you've got lyrics, you need to find a composer. You're prey for the Paramount (&c.) crowd, and I would not give 'em the time of day. Instead, you are likely to find just what you need right here, or somewhere like here. There are a bunch of people (including myself) who are able and willing to set somebody's lyrics to music. At that point, you've got something you can peddle.

My opinion, as always.

Joe
Posted By: Hummingbird

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 07:09 PM

My take on it is, this industry is really competitive and if your strength is writing excellent lyrics then you need to focus on that, and partner with someone (or several someones) who writes great music in your genre. That's assuming you are seeking some sort of commercial success.

However I do agree that lyricists should try to gain some musicial knowledge - take guitar or piano, sing in a choir.

Whatever your role, I think it's good to keep expanding your experience - learn a new instrument, play different styles of music, listen to a variety of genres
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 07:32 PM

I've met a lot of people who have a deep passion for music and songs, but they just can't physically make music. Some take guitar or piano lessons, but it just doesn't work--they know the sound of good music, but their body can't make it happen...the strum has no rhythm, the chords can't be remembered, the voice won't hit the note, the finger keeps forgetting how to press the keys. I feel the same way when I try to install an HVAC system...sorry, no can do.

But a person like this may still love music and may be a very good wordsmith. There aren't a lot of people reading poems these days, but good lyrics are still a lively part of our culture.

My advice to this sort of lyricist is always the same: whatever you write, keep its rhythm consistent...it's not the exact syllable count so much as the rhythm of the lyrical lines that needs to match the same melodic passage.

(Here's an example of two lines with the exact same syllables...one would work for the song, and one would not:

"All you need is love"
"My name is Helen"

Guess which one Lennon used for his melody? smile )
Posted By: Michelle Chapman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 07:38 PM

Hi Kevin,
For me Kevin,Its a matter of not wanting to bite off more than I can chew....at this point in time anyway.

I tried to learn guitar a few years ago,and just found it was not my thing.

I'm a writer,and I want to work on trying to perfect my skills in writing.I have been absorbing myself into reading and studying anything that I possibly can about writing lyrics.

For me,at least,it's just not as simple as writing some words that rhyme down on paper.I'm in the early stages of the learning process and I want to be the best writer that I can possibly be.

For me it would be like telling the camera man in a news story that he needs to learn to report the news also.It would be great if he could do both,but he probably wants to focus on the job he is best at.

Some musicians cant write lyrics no matter how hard they try,and some lyricists cant play music.It would be better if everyone could learn to do both,but it just doesnt work out that way for everyone all the time.

I am however learning,that OCCASIONALLY ,I can come up with a melody in my head for a lyric that I am working on but that isnt always the case,so I depend on the great co-writers that I have been finding,that take a look at one of my lyrics and finds something in the lyric that inspires them.

I just want to learn to be the best lyricist that I can be,and I have a long way to go,so I am focusing on the lyrical aspects of songwriting only for now.That is my reason.I'm sure that others will have other reasons.

Michelle
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 07:57 PM

I kinda agree with Kevin. Whilst you do not need to be a musician to appreciate good music you really have to be able to at least understand, to a certain degree, the fundamentals of music construction, meter, rhythm and chord structure to actually write lyrics. Otherwise you are not a lyricist but a POET.
I have seen many poems that people like to call "lyrics" which would require major surgery by a tune-smith to turn them into a song. Any lyricist needs to hear the music, albeit in their head before they can write passable lyrics.
To say that you can write lyrics without understanding music composition or being able to play an instrument is both naive and lazy.
Posted By: Harriet Ames

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 08:23 PM

I agree with Joe,

While there are some of us who can write both words and music.... it's not everybody's strength.
I've had some excellent lyricists who can sometimes sing me the tune they used to write their lyric...sometimes not. but can in no way play it on an instrument. and I'm not all that sure that they know much in the way of music theory.
But their lyrics flow with a rhythm that is strong. As I've said in the past....some of them practically write the music for me.
What is key for me more.... is that the lyricist understands how words flow. the natural rhythm and sycopation of how they are said.... that's where the difference between poetry and lyrics lies. Some words or phrases roll off the tongue easily...and some just don't.

frankly...to suggest that every lyricist can become a composer is a bit insulting to some of the great composers that inhabit these boards. If it's all just for fun...then great...go for it...
but if you're looking to compete in the commercial market...you can't be satisfied with just A TUNE...... you need a GREAT TUNE...
I'm not saying that some "strictly lyricists" here can't learn to play an instrument and go on to write some great music.... but to suggest that every one of them can, and should, (I know of one who did) I just don't think it's a requirement.
Posted By: Colin Ward

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 08:38 PM

I have pondered this question myself numerous times. I would never have known that non-musicians wrote lyrics if I hadn't joined JPF. In fact it seems lyricists outnumber musicians handily.

In order to write a song, you've got to have rhythm. Some lyricists write with no meter or rhythm and do things like use a different number of lines from one verse to the next. Not much hope there.

I guess you could write lyrics even if you are tone deaf, as long as you have the rhythm and understand song structure.

There are probably a few people who have the rhythm and ear to be a musician but can't play an instrument because of a physical handicap. They could certainly write lyrics.

I look forward to Mark's new song "My Name is Helen".
Posted By: Kevin Emmrich

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 08:43 PM

Quote
to suggest that every lyricist can become a composer is a bit insulting to some of the great composers that inhabit these boards.


Just to clarify, I am not saying that they become experts -- just a rudimentary feel for music to allow better writing of "musical" lyrics and to help lay groundwork for the future composers. "insulting to composers" -- not even close (I can see how lyricists might be offended, though).

Let's face it, for most writers with no music, 99% of lyrics here are going to die as just words. Learning the rudiments of piano, though, might give life to some of these lyrics. Then those 99% can at least go the Mark's "graveyard of songs".

By the way, this question comes from someone who does not feel gifted in either lyric writing or musical composition.

Kevin
Posted By: J. Parker

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 10:30 PM

I'm glad someone asked that question, because I've wondered that for years. When I first made the decision to go head-on with songwriting, I picked up a few books to try and familiarize myself with the processes of the business. One of the books was by Jason Blume, and I recall a section about his early days in the writing biz...he didn't play an instrument, but he still sang his melodies into a tape player, even though he says he was far from a singer.

I see something like that being, at a minimum, a requirement for a songwriter. You don't have to sing well...you don't have to play well...but I think if you don't at least attempt to put the words to music...even if only in your head...you'll never really get a feel for how / if they flow.

Just my two cents.
Posted By: WriterTomYeager

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 10:34 PM

I say do what you are best at

some folks are gifted writers and some are gifted musicians....however they got that way doesnt really matter in my opinion....I am in Nashville-home to thousands of stunningly good musicians whose songs sound like Phobe from "Friends" when you see em play their own stuff at the tonks....thats why they will never be more than cover band material unless they partner with a good lyrics writer...and a good lyricist will bang on a computer keyboard searching for the right words and song stories while the musicians do their banging on guitars and keyboards hunting for a good melody......the partnership works........you can hand the lyricist a guitar and come back in five years and he/she will still be dreadful-as will the musician who is still at the redneck ebonics stage of english composition.....and believe me there is such a thing as redneck ebonics- I hear it all the time at the tonks......neither the lyricist nor musician is lazy....again-I say to both-just do what you are good at..and though I cuss em out as much or more than anyone else-you also need the business and marketing talents of the David Geffen types on Music Row.......cause when you give lyricists and musicians a label or publishing house to run you best have a lawyer experienced in bankruptcy law waiting in the wings for the fire sale......

Tom
Posted By: Gary Gray X

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 10:36 PM

we all have desires to try things no matter if we play instruments or not.The key factor is to try, for it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.So who's to say a person shouldn't try writing lyrics? certainly not me!
Posted By: Moker Jarrett

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 10:40 PM

i think people work best when the work doesn't feel like work...they are doing what they enjoy and feel comfortable doing. I like and enjoy writing both lyrics and music. I recognize that there are many gifted people who prefer to just write lyric, most of them write a lot more songs than i do, and i write quite a lot. just my take...thank God for 'em...many of the favorite tunes i've written have been co-writes with lyricists...interesting opinions here, thanks kev...mj
Posted By: Jean Bullock

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 10:40 PM

A song is meant to be sung. Instrumental music is not a song either.
It's a musical composition.


Regarding learning music: We'll never know if we don't try.

The rest of this is for those who have tried but in the trying found out where their real strengths lie:

There are plenty of people who can play music but can't create an appealing melody.

There are people who can create appealing melodies who can't write a lyric that does the melody justice.

Lyric writers should learn something about music and understand the parameters that are needed to create workable melodies.

Composers who write melodies for songs should learn something about lyric writing so they understand those parameters as well.

Composers and lyricists should both learn something about singing so they understand the demands placed on the singer.

Learning something about music, lyric writing,and singing doesn't mean that they need to be able to play, write, or sing either. If they aren't "wired" for that sort of thing, it would just be an exercise in futility.

That was my PC version.

I am afraid to post my non-PC version.
Posted By: Mike Caro Substudio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 10:49 PM

That is why such a person is called a "Lyricist" Bernie Taupin is a lyricist.

Musicians should ALL be able to write songs. Well they don't. Actually the thing is at least sometime in there life they try, or have written a few. But there are countless who have only been in cover bands,or wedding bands. Who have played & written instrumentals and never wrote one lyric.

Shouldn't a "producer" also be an engineer?

All these things are so very related yet so different in many ways. We see many things as one, just because someones's a great musician doesn't automatically make them a songwriter.

Think of all those who write poems, very close to lyrics, but.......

I think if you write lyrics only you are a lyricist,once someone puts music to your lyrics you are a a co-writer and I think it's okay to tell others "I'm a songwriter" smile

However I do agree and encourage, if your really into songwriting learning to play something even if just for fun/interest/challenge or cutting out your co-writers LOL is a very good thing. But Vikiki said it best "Focus mainly on what you do best"

I have a few tunes right now that desperately need lyrics only. I wriote them of course but these ones have been a thorn in my side for years now. I scout the lyric boards looking for a match. So! keep em coming lyricists smile
Posted By: IdeaGuy

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 11:30 PM

I guess we can all only answer this from our own point of view... I call myself "primarily a lyricist" I've banged on a guitar for 25 years but can't do much more than fake book covers. When I began to take songwriting seriously I began to try to make my own music... people tell me my melodies are good, but I have NO confidence in them, myself. I'd rather turn them over to a more polished musician who can make things that actually sound good. Sometimes my musical collaborators take my g/v worktapes and run from there, improving, refining, and elevating the song to a level I could never have taken it. Other collaborators would prefer to not be influenced by my worktapes but create their own melody from what they are hearing... Either way works fine for me but what I've found is that because I do hear a (however amateurish) melody when I write, that the end products are not usually all that different from what I was hearing in my own head and struggling to reproduce with my basic musical abilities. But what I have also found is that those differences between my worktapes and the end products (while usually minor in quantity) make a massive difference in the quality of the song. I prefer my lyrics to be handled by someone who knows what they are doing and can elevate my words to a place I could never have taken them, even if it's pretty darn close to where I could have taken them. Does that make any sense?

I have a song that I posted here about 6 months ago as one I wrote entirely myself - words and music. I received great reviews from many of you even though it was one of my self-produced amateurish worktapes. I've been begging for someone musical to take that song and produce a good demo of it... tweaking it as he/she sees necessary. The song is 95% done it just needs those embellishments that I can't do. I'm offering a co-write in exchange for a good demo. But I can't seem to get any takers... I wonder why... My alternative is of course to send it off to a demo mill but that's not in the budget right now... so I'm left here with a pretty decent tune that no ones REALLY going to hear until I can afford to get it demoed myself... that's kind of frustrating... I have bought BIAB and am trying to learn it to get somewhere with it but I feel like a second-grader in High school... Anybody wanna do a demo in exchange for a co-write? The offer still stands grin wink
Posted By: Bill Osofsky

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/09 11:54 PM

Quote
(Here's an example of two lines with the exact same syllables...one would work for the song, and one would not:

"All you need is love"
"My name is Helen"

Guess which one Lennon used for his melody?


On the other hand, "Her name was Lola" worked okay for Barry Manilow wink

Bill
Posted By: Marc Barnette

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 12:14 AM

One answer might be that it is because almost any one can write in some form or another. We all start around 5 years old with poems, "I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, I do not like them Sam I am." So many people take it the next level writing poetry, stories, papers, etc. Most colleges require some form of creative writing in their cirricleum. Even in business sources there are writing elements involved.
Quite literally anyone can do it. But writing some lines and rhymes, telling a story, is one thing. Writing lyrics, that match music, and make people physically want to purchase it with their time or their physical money is something totally different.
And with things like the internet it has turned the world into poets, composers, inventors, lyricists, etc. That is partially why the Library of Congress is backed up two years for patent applications, copyrights, and similar legal avenues.
Music usually takes some form of instruction. Whether it is piano or guitar lessons at ten years old, choir or vocal groups, or being in bands or other outlets. It takes expense of having an instrument and some form of discipline to learn to do it. And for anyone that has ever gotten that old upright piano that is used basically to sit pictures of the grandkids on or that "old guitar case underneath the bed or sitting in the corner" it is easy to lose interest fast. It is hard and takes work.
This is not to diminish great lyricists or book authors. That is extrodinarily hard to do well as well. And there are very few true lyricists. Most writers in the past 40 years have been both musicians and lyricists, which is why there are so few "outside cuts" which means the artists themselves are the writers.
Over the past years since there are so many magazines, contests, etc. that the lyrics are allowed to be submitted, the explosion of people who think they are lyricists have grown by thousands of times. But in my humble opinion, most of these are not true lyricists. One look at American Songwriter magazine's lyric winners and second, third and fourth place winners make you wonder what the criteria are. There are really no place in modern society for eight and nine verse, rambling, trite, poetry that says nothing about anything in a very poor way, outside of other rambling, trite poetry, done in a poor way writers. It frankly encourages poor writing and never goes anywhere. But it does give the winners a plaque to put on their wall. Very nice.
That is my take on the question. good to hear from you all.

MAB
Posted By: Turt

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 12:21 AM

In my opinion two heads are better than one I am a lyricist and poet But when i write I usually hear some sort of music Sometimes I sing it into a recorder sometimes don't I like other people to come up with their own melody of a lyric i have written I have had people change things in my lyric to fit their music Would it be better to do both Well let me think Yes But if you have a great collaborater You accomplish the same thing A song I write because i want to If I am never a hit writer O well that's life www.sharemylyrics.com/lyricalturtle
www.showcaseyourmusic.com/lyricalturtle
Posted By: WriterTomYeager

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 01:31 AM

dont mean to drift the thread-as far as the original topic

but this is relevant to the "do what you are best at" for the overall mission type theory....even the Marine Corps uses it evidentaly.....selection process for the Marine Band-repost from Wiki..

Selection process
Musicians in the Marine Band are selected through a rigorous audition procedure. Candidates who satisfy the musical audition must meet security and physical requirements, and then are enlisted into the Marine Corps with four year contracts. Because musicians cannot be used for a combat mission, they are not required to attend recruit training.[1] Because the band recruits experienced musicians, members start at the rank of Staff Sergeant, and wear rank insignia with a lyre replacing the normal crossed rifles. Officers are drawn and commissioned from the band, but Drum Majors are career Marines and are selected from Fleet Marine Force bands (as they are responsible for the military development of the band's members).


(yes they play at the White House-but are they members of BMI or ASCAP-no-because they havent written any original material grin )

and I do agree with you Marc about 8 or 9 verse poets thinking they are lyricists....

they never get a full hearing of their material at the BMI Guest Publisher Screenings In Nashville-or as I call it "Home of the 45 Second Shot Clock"

Tom

Posted By: lucian

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 02:03 AM

Well, I think Marc B answered the question pretty honestly and accurately. There's so many lyric writers because it's something literally anyone can do - some better than others of course. To be honest, it's a completely futile pastime. But, as the great American icon John Wayne said: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." So if you enjoy writing lyrics, go ahead and keep writing them, but understand and accept you may never get anywhere with them. There's something everyone has to come to terms with when you get into songwriting, be they a musician or lyricist: Being able to write a song is not an extraordinary skill, it's a noteworthy skill. Being able to write noteworthy songs is the extraordinary skill that you need to aspire to if you want to get anywhere.

I would say to lyric writers that the better the understanding you have of music, the more you put yourself above your peers. Learning an instrument is helpful, but learning to sing to the maximum of your ability is the best thing you can do. I see a lot of lyrics that are over structured, overly preoccupied with everything looking neat and tidy on the page, verbose, crammed and with no room for a singer to do what they like doing best - showing off the qualities of their voice. Being able to a sing to any extent opens up more melodic possibilities and means you can write from a singer's perspective.

I think putting your lyrics up in places like this is kind of showcasing your work and getting noticed. Ideally, you want a good melody writer to contact you and you and say, "Hey, I dig your lyrics, could you put some to this melody?" It's just my opinion, but the music first, lyrics second method generally yields better results. Doing it the other way around often leads to unoriginal, average songs.

Lucian
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 02:11 AM

Do what you do best is great advice but there is nothing wrong with learning new skills and venturing out of our own comfort zones. I do not know of any great lyricist who does not know the rudiments of music composition. I do not know of any great producers who do not know their way around a studio mixing desk and recording equipment. I know lots of folk who are willing to learn new crafts to enhance their own speciality as a result of embracing, learning and exploring other areas to improve skill and knowledge. It is both naive and insulting to say otherwise.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 02:14 AM

Thanks Tom, my cousin was in the Air Force Band. He is a civilian now and has a regular gig in Branson. Not sure where he plays.

I don't want to make this post about me, but only share my experience. I grew up learning to play instruments since 9 years old, Violin, Clarinet, Sax, Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo. I know music theory somewhat from the early days. I can look at a manuscript and tell what time it's in, sharps, flats etc. I can get the idea and feel of the melody,(by reading those funny words like adagio..) but can't sight read. I mainly play the Guitar now, but can't read Guitar music. I read Tabulator and hate it.

I've only been writing my own songs for 7 years. When I write a song I write the lyrics and melody at the same time to establish a meter, then go back and change things later. Like McCartney's "Scrambled Eggs".

I'm venturing into writing melodies for others lyrics now and not finding it as easy as I thought. The melody is what catches the ear when first heard. Dylan and Donovan can do both, words and melody. It's like learning a new instrument to provide a great melody for pre written lyrics. I first try the original meter and lyric to get an idea of what the lyricist had intended, and if that doesn't work, I'll ask to make some changes.

As a musician, it would be nice to sit down with a co-writer and work a song out. That can't be done most of the time with the Internet, but I believe that the prospects are even greater with the Internet because you can meet co-writers that you will never find in your home town.

Yeah, it's hard to learn to play the guitar, you have to learn all those chords (7 basic) and change from G to C real fast. And don't forget that it makes your finger tips hurt.

Remember to tune your Guitar. Thanks, Ben
Posted By: Jean Bullock

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 02:36 AM

Originally Posted by lucian
… Doing it the other way around often leads to unoriginal, average songs. Lucian


Respectfully disagree on that one, Lucian.

A good composer will not be limited by writing to lyrics. An unimaginative composer will be.



Posted By: Michelle Chapman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 03:04 AM

I pretty much agree and disagree with everything that has been said.When asked the question "what do you think is the most important part of the song,lyrics or music?",the answer always varies from person to person.I think you just have to look at the song as a whole.If a person writes music,they are a musician(whether or not they write good music),if a person writes lyrics they are a lyricist(whether the lyric are good or bad)...after all what some think is great,others may find painful to listen to.Variety is the spice of life,and thank goodness we dont all like the same things.I think it is absolutely wonderful if a person can compose music AND write lyrics,but its just a fact that for whatever reasons,some just simply cant.To me,it doest take away from the talents that they DO have.I call myself a songwriter because I HELP to write,or in some cases,write songs.I'm not claiming to be a great songwriter,but hope that some will like and enjoy the songs that I write(or HELP to write),and I am trying very hard to learn more about what I am doing everyday.I am trying to be the best lyricist that I possibly can and I am pouring my heart into learning everything that I can about writing great lyrics.As I said before,I really did attempt to learn to play the guitar,for several reason I found that it wasnt for me.For one thing,I have crippling arthritis in hands.I think people will choose to focus on what they do best,and what they love to do the most....in the process I am learning a little more about music.....I truly respect everyones opinion here,it just seems that it could have the potential to hurt or possibly even dissuade those who only write lyrics,to make them feel that their contribution to songwriting is unimportant.....but that is just my opinion,and I admit I dont know very much at all,but I sure am trying VERY VERY hard to learn.
Michelle
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 03:24 AM

Very well put Michelle. I write lyrics but consider other lyricists here at JPF well above the plain than I am at as far as creativity and ideas. That is important. Not just instrumental ability.

My brother used to be a very fine guitar player until he got severe arthritis in his hands. He didn't give up. He now plays an open tuned slide guitar. Very little movement required for his afflicted fingers. He may do a recording with me soon.
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 03:41 AM

Originally Posted by Michelle Chapman
I pretty much agree and disagree with everything that has been said.

Me too! grin

There are so many different ways to make a song fly. What is impossible for some is just the ticket for others.

In the end, the song's the thing. Make those lyrics sound like music. They need to be sung, so make 'em sound good. Chant them in the shower...sing them to an imaginary melody when no one else is listening. Get them off the page and into the air where they belong, because they're lyrics, not text.
Posted By: Dean Richardson

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 03:41 AM

Yep, my opening disclaimer is that it is based on the musician..but now--in my opinion:

I am a music guy. Lyrics are important (sometimes), but not the integral part of the song.

If someone is lyrics only--and they hear the tune in their head--there is no excuse not to get to a piano or kbd and plink around until you find the notes to atleast flesh out crudely that tune in your head. If you don't "hear" the tune and it really is lyrics only,..what else is there to say. It may be a song, it may be a poem...but there isn't a song until there is music.
Posted By: glynda

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 05:53 AM

All I have to say, is that I don't do music, not at all in any form...but I love to write, so much stuff up in this wee lil' head of mine and I just want to get it out and on paper,,I hum it, sing it to myself..i'm sorry that I don't do the music, i've tried piano, guitar, key board,but I just can't get it to sound like I want and I feel my words deserve better, that's why I get others that are pro's in music to do my stuff..I'm just here doing the thing I do..not to get rich or anything like that...I'm not suppose to be a rich person..not in my genes..but i've met so many very talented people here and i'm having the time of my life..and I do want to thank each of you that has helped me, co-writers, demo singers, the one's that have put music to my lyrics and mostly to the rest of you that has given me feedback, whether it be postivie or negative..I really do appreciate each of you more than I can express...but since I don't do the music part, please don't hold that against me...and thanks for giving me the chance of my life to spend time with you here...i'm really living this up, never in my mind did I ever think that someone like me would even be putting words into a song and just hearing it on CD is more than I could have ever expected...so from me to each of you...thanks for what you do and thanks for giving me this dream of writing lyrics..love to all as always...............glyn
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 06:21 AM

Glyn hit the nail on the head. It doesn't matter if you produced a hit song (though no one would complain if you did). The point is that a lyricist can come here to JPF, introduce a lyric, and possibly get a demo. For nothing, or next to nothing, without Hilltop Records. After the demo, the rest is up to you.
Posted By: Mike Dunbar

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 06:21 AM

Why are there so many lyricists? Simple. A lot of people who play an instrument do not compose, they play cover tunes. A lot of singers don't write the melodies, they sing cover tunes. But lyricists don't sit and write out cover tunes. They all write original lyrics.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 06:34 AM

Originally Posted by ben willis
The point is that a lyricist can come here to JPF, introduce a lyric, and possibly get a demo. For nothing, or next to nothing, without Hilltop Records.


I'm quoting myself. I don't want to diminish the value of having a professionally made demo done.
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 06:36 AM

Well.....I have to confess...in high school, when I was bored in class, I would write popular song lyrics on my notebook. Beatles, Floyd, Bowie...

So I guess that made me a cover lyricist.
Posted By: Marc Barnette

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 06:54 AM

Music gets them there. Lyrics keep them there.

M
Posted By: Patti Smith

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 07:13 AM

Wow! I was speechless, then I decided to say this-I prefer to write because I'm passionate about it. I haven't had time to post a lot. It took a little while to read this thread and it's very interesting how people feel. I will continue to write lyrics while waiting for a composer. I strum on my guitar some. I have crappy melodies in my head. I could be worse and I could be better. The fact is, it exercises my brain: helps me feel creative and is an outlet at times. What's wrong with that? There are legendary songwriting partners that split the job in two primarily because of their strengths.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 07:20 AM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Well.....I have to confess...in high school, when I was bored in class, I would write popular song lyrics on my notebook. Beatles, Floyd, Bowie...


Mark, I didn't do that, but had a friend who did, (In high school). I was music publisher of the high school newspaper. I remember a guy who tried to post the lyrics of a Who song as his own. I caught it, and it wasn't published. I know that you didn't do that kind of thing. (no wink, I really know).

I think that I was at a keg party and skipping class when that edition came out.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 07:25 AM

Patti, hang out. You will find a co-writer here. I almost guarentee.
Posted By: Heidi Thompson

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 07:38 AM

I hear the music in my head and then I am lucky enough to be able to play a few chords on the piano and describe what I hear to my husband, who then translates it all into the arrangement and production.

This has worked fine for me because I am able to communicate in musical terms well enough. However, sometimes my husband (who is a very schooled musician) will get a bit disturbed with my instructions. He'll say things like "those notes don't fit into the chord" or "those chord changes don't make any sense."

Then I get huffy with him and tell him that it sounds perfectly wonderful inside my head and I'm sure it will sound just as wonderful when he plays it the way I hear it.

We are a good team because I'm usually doing things outside the box and he usually keeps me grounded. Just the other day we did an arrangement of a country song I wrote to present to a national product sponsor. We had a Nashville guy over to sing it and play guitar. My husband did his usual, "those chords don't usually go in that sequence" thing. The singer/guitarist from Nashville said the same thing. But, when the song was all down on tape and they were both digging it, the Nashville guy said laughing,"you and I are going to co-write a song when I steal those chords from you!"

My point is that sometimes a non-trained musician like myself can write some pretty great music in her head! Yes, I could take the time to learn to play an instrument better, but I've had six national song cuts and made my living writing music for jingles and commercials for most of my life without playing an instrument (besides plucking out chords to show my husband!)

We all have our own unique creative strengths and if we find a way to use them which then translates into great songs, well that's all that really matters.

If you can hear the music in your head, then all you need is an arranger to help you put it down on tape.

If you don't hear the music in your head, then learning to play an instrument may not be the answer. It will only serve to help you fish for a melody, which also works for many.

Best,
Heidi





Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 08:11 AM

I guess the point is that you don't have to be musically trained. Which you don't. It helps.

You can tell the co-writer the time, and key of the song. Of course we can always change the Key according to the singer.

As a co-writer, I'm still with the attitude that I would rather have my co-writer sitting with me in the same room at the same time across from each other. That way, I can hit some chords and make a melody on the spot. If it isn't right, I'll try something else.
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 08:39 AM

Think of music as the alphabet. You only go up to the letter G. A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Everything in between doesn't matter for now. A is doe, B is ray, C is mee, D is fah, E is soh, F is lah, G is tee, and doe is back to A in the next octave. The same note, only higher. I may be wrong, but that's the basics. I yeild to MD. He can explain it better.

Follow Cupcake in the avatar.
Posted By: WriterTomYeager

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 09:06 AM

Mark has confessed to being a Cover Lyricist!

I admire the personal courage that took Mark

and you have indeed raised the bar of what might be considered a shocking confession here in JPF....lets see someone top that!


Tom
Posted By: tbryson

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 09:59 AM

I know a few of you here from another online board and though I am not great at it I am learning to play guitar because someone on this board asked like Kevin did...Why don't you learn guitar? So I borrowed an cheap electric and relearned G,C,and D...then I got my original Lyle Hummingbird back from my daughter that I tried to learn to play looong ago and just started to add my rudimentry chord progressions to words I had written. That was 1 year ago.Thing is we should stick mostly what we are best at but I'm not great at either. Thats ok. I just got back from listening to a friend play at a coffee house and I know and can play just about every chord he played tonight and with some more time in I will get better. It has helped in one way for writing at this point. I get a melody for my words much quicker and cheaper than a demo service. Is it as quality? Nope. Is it fun? Yep.Is it hard? Very yep.

I can't help but agree with Kevin that I think it would help writers get better...Heck look at all the 3 chord songs there are that are hits and fun to listen to. The only difference between those and mine are in the delivery. Since my lyrics aren't that great any of you good writers out there would really benefit from banging out even 3 chords added to your writing.
Posted By: "Tampa Stan" Good (D)

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 12:04 PM

HiYa Brother Kev!

Sorry to be Late to The Thread...&..I'm looking forwards to reading Everyone Else's Post when I get some time.

I grew up in a Musical Family, yet I was the kid who never did the Trumpet Lessons Practice & got Kicked-Out after 4 weeks, back in Grade School. Never bothered me UNTIL I hit Age 35 & penned my first Song. Bothered me a LOT when I was 40-50 HOPING to be The Next Big Thing, too. BUT by-then, I knew my way around a Studio..I'd buy Pretzels & Beer, & had Several Bands volunteering to do the Background Stuff. & then, after a lotta Near Misses with Cuts/Contracts/& all the Usual Hoopla, I took a Decade Off..too.

So, come 1999, I got back into the Lyrics Side of things...Again.
Spent 3 years co-ing with Keyboardist from Belinda Womack's Band, Susan Shoshanna-Braun. Co-Bought a $1600 Korg "Karma" Synth..she was mastering ProTools..& all I needed to do was Write Lyrics. DID buy 6 Guitars..3 are really Nice Ones..and a pair of Synths..& more recently, a 24-Channel Analogue Mixing Board...BUT...have yet to learn how to use any of the stuff..BECAUSE..I'm pretty BUSY "Just Penning Lyrics".

And..alas..my Day Job (Clockmaking) so-far HAS paid me far-better than My Music Habit..thus-far. (Tho Lately...the Recession and an Unsold House..or Two..make MUSIC look FAR better than what's So-Far been payin' the bills.)

I've over the years learned HOW to Sing for an Audience..and DO hear The Music behind my Lyrics. I've ALSO learned that a GOOD Musical Collaborator CAN make What I Pen sound BETTER than what I HEAR when I write it. I've also got to know Producers who can take THAT Demo to places NEITHER of us ever Dreamed-Of.

So...yeah, I really SHOULD learn an Instrument..to make things perhaps Easier...BUT..there are only SO Many HOURS In Each DAY..and..Alas..so-far Songs only eat up the Mornings in each of my days. WHEN I've successfully "Retired" from my Day Job..and Un-Loaded the Excess Real Estate..& Misc. Stuff I've accumulated over the last 60 years..I certainly expect to learn an instrument..Finally.

For me, instead of a "Weakness" though, I've ended up mastering Words DUE to my lack of mastering an Instrument. (In a pinch, I can Whistle any part I'm trying to get-across/have actually recorded a few Tracks of Whistling on more'n' a few songs.)

Ol' Elvis..who sold a Billion Records..originally performed, I believe, with a Stringless-Guitar. Not Everybody HAS to know an Instrument to make it in the Music Biz. But yeah, I'll sure agree that It HELPS!

Best Wishes, & as Tampa Chapter Chairman Al "The Pal" Alvarez says: "Keep On Strummin'"!
Big Guy-Hug,
Stan
Posted By: WriterTomYeager

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 12:21 PM

for the record-I did learn an instrument....long ago

I played trumpet in elementary school and high school band.....even played some herb alpert stuff cause his music was hot trumpet at the time....

scored 795 out of 800 on the VERBAL part of the SAT for college admission....was often encouraged to be a writer.......finally am...its never too late

Tom
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 01:33 PM

The importance of lyrics is debateable. Depends on genre. For example some country songs rely on telling a story and creating imagery. The music almost comes as an afterthought. Some pop songs concentrate on music production and catchy riffs but lyrics are unimportant. These songs consist mainly of the same banal line being repeated ad nauseum.

What is important is to write, perform and produce a quality song that has the necessary hooks etc and is pleasing to the ear regardless of the genre. It hardly matters nowadays who writes the lyrics, who composes the music, sings the melody, plays the instruments and produces the recording.
What is important is a professional attitude to do the best job possible. We are never too old to learn new things and never done learning.

The best people at anything do not have a comfort zone. They will experiment, take chances, move on, move back, learn new skills and never stop learning. That is what makes them the best.
Posted By: Everett Adams

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 03:39 PM

Then there are people that can play a song having only heard it once or twice, but can not produce anything original. Great musicians, but give them a lyric to create a melody for, they have no idea how to start, but start singing it and they'll pick it up and play right along. My musical ability is very limited, my singing is more so, lyrics would be my strongest asset, but I know enough to create a complete song, not well sung or well played, but well enough to get the song across so a good demo studio can expand on it and dress it up to be presentable for an artist to "get" it, the artist then can make it his own.
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 05:49 PM

Any answer will do to this question. I have the deepest respect for lyricists that put in all their energy to make the best lyric they can.

If every lyric came with a melody, I would get sick of collaborations and stop doing them, as I then would just feel like a hired hand.

So I for one appreciate the division of work here.

Then it is true that in todays music industry, the most succesful ones are producers. They can write, play, arrange, engineer and produce the full monty.

Music is mostly entertainment, so therefore deep lyrics are not highest in the hirarchy. But if there's just an inch of artistic ambition left, lyrics are really important IMO

So like in any other profession, lyrics are too important to be left over to the lyricists, the same goes for music. I'd say the best songs today are collaborations, where the strengths are fused together, making the result more than it's parts.
Posted By: Jean Bullock

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 06:05 PM

Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
The importance of lyrics is debateable. Depends on genre. For example some country songs rely on telling a story and creating imagery. The music almost comes as an afterthought. Some pop songs concentrate on music production and catchy riffs but lyrics are unimportant. These songs consist mainly of the same banal line being repeated ad nauseum.

What is important is to write, perform and produce a quality song that has the necessary hooks etc and is pleasing to the ear regardless of the genre. It hardly matters nowadays who writes the lyrics, who composes the music, sings the melody, plays the instruments and produces the recording.
What is important is a professional attitude to do the best job possible. We are never too old to learn new things and never done learning.

The best people at anything do not have a comfort zone. They will experiment, take chances, move on, move back, learn new skills and never stop learning. That is what makes them the best.


Well said, Jim.
Posted By: Kevin Emmrich

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 07:22 PM

Thanks to all who threw their opinions in the ring -- see, we can have a relatively civil discourse on controversial topics!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being lyrics only, in fact lyrics are what make good songs great. The music and melody pull you in, but the lyrics are what you sing along with. Obviously there are genres where lyrics don't matter, but hits in those genre at least some kind of amazing synergy between the music and words.

Nonetheless, I still feel strongly that non-musical lyricists should go out and get a keyboard (even just a $100 one) and try to learn some rudimentary music. It might turn out to be a total waste of time -- or you might discover a talent that you never knew you had. In the long run, I bet it would make you an even better songwriter.

Kevin

Posted By: glynda

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 07:51 PM

Kevin it may make me a better songwriter cause right now it's best I stay away from my keyboard and guitar...not a pretty thing to hear, I bang on the keyboard and sometimes I kinda like what bits I hear, but can't do it a second time...it's really scarey to hear whatever it is i'm doing..so it will make me a better writer cause i'll be spending more time writing and not trying to scare the neighbors....lol
Posted By: Joe Wrabek

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/09 08:53 PM

Kevin (et al.), it can be done other ways. Lyricists don't have to be, or become, musicians; they just have to understand how it works.

What I counsel people to do is steep themselves in writing that's from an oral tradition. Stuff that was intended to be *performed* rather than read. The big epic poems--Homer, Virgil, &c. Cicero's and Winston Churchill's speeches. Cowboy poetry (and that includes Dr. Seuss, who really was good at that genre). You need to get a sense (my opinion, of course) how words are used not just for their meaning, but their *sound* and their *rhythm*. And there are poets who crossed the line, so to speak, and became songwriters--Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen. Look how their words were designed to fit music.

And then apply *those* tricks to your lyrics. Doesn't mean you shouldn't learn to play an instrument (I keep telling myself that's why I got the banjo--it wasn't just to look at). But it doesn't mean you have to get good at it right away.

Joe
Posted By: Patti Smith

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/21/09 03:23 AM

Because I posted a lyric here and advertised on a post for a co-writer, I got an important message from a member. He suggested I advertise locally. I did. Now I have found a musician, singer/songwriter who seems very interested in working with me. You never know.
Posted By: Marc Barnette

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/21/09 03:28 AM

Relationship, relationship, relationship.
Posted By: Dave Rice

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/21/09 06:11 AM

Hi Kevin:

No offense taken. To answer your question from my perspective, there are more lyric writers because it seems to be the point where a significant portion of songwriters begin. Many have little or no experience in writing or performing melodies. Most cannot play an instrument of any kind but still have a passion for contributing to music in whatever way they can.

Learning to be a good lyricist requires a great deal of work... and true, it is best if the lyricist undertakes a strategy to learn an instrument of some type and to learn the basics of music.

I began as a lyricist only and decided that I wanted more control of my work. I learned to play chords and began to sing, which to me, was the most daunting task of all. Co-writing is a wonderful experience depending upon the chemistry of those involved. If the chemistry is wrong... it is an absolute nightmare.

Most of what I have read and learned about songwriting is that the melody is the most important aspect of the song... but it can be left hanging and largely ignored unless accompanied by a good set of lyrics. Nothing against a good instrumental tune but a good song requires excellent lyrics to bring the melody to fruition. Both contributors are important and, to me, it is significantly easier if the two parts are handled by one person... unless, as Marc B. has stated, there is a very good working relationship where both parties work together efficiently, punctually and on a business-like basis.

Given a choice (with a few important exceptions) I prefer to write and compose alone. The logistics are simpler and I can blame nobody but myself if the song is not brought "to life" within the target date established for release, recording or simply pitching to others.

There is no best way... just whatever works best for the individual(s) involved.

Regards,

Dave

http://www.ShowCaseYourMusic.com/DaveRice
Posted By: eb

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/21/09 02:30 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
the strum has no rhythm

My advice to this sort of lyricist is always the same: whatever you write, keep its rhythm consistent...it's not the exact syllable count so much as the rhythm of the lyrical lines that needs to match the same melodic passage.



I'm one of the rhythmically challenged strummers. I've had a guitar for probably 35 years and it's still the same "chunk-chunk-chunk" rhythm it's always been. One reason is a childhood arm injury and one reason is laziness. A problem for the last few years has been loss of strength in my left arm/hand and increasing arthritic pain in both hands. But rhythm does not come naturally for me.

A few years ago I bought a new classical guitar with a wider fingerboard which in some ways helps but on some chords my fingers still go to the narrow fingering on my old guitar.

Your advice on lyrical rhythm is right on IMO. Years ago I heard the syllable thing and it messed me up for quite some time. Then I realized for me at least it was the rhythm of the words rather than the syllables--the beats had to be the same.

When I do a song, I usually have a tune. I tweak that tune a lot more than I tweak the words. Some musicians have trouble them sometimes but they seem to work for me. When I play them myself, I can never play them like my mind hears them. There was one where, every time I sang acapella, there was an extra line that I just couldn't do when I played it on the guitar.
Posted By: eb

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/21/09 02:32 PM

Being a lyricist mainly, I think lyrics are very important. I recently heard a successful Nashville plugger say in his opinion melody is the most important aspect now.
Posted By: "Tampa Stan" Good (D)

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/21/09 04:10 PM

My Afterthought Kev is this: There ARE Great Songs where nary a Word IS Understandable..."Louie-Louie" by the Kingsmen immediately comes to mind (Along with MANY an Instrumental Hit.)

THEN Again, there are songs like Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues"..(Prolly the world's First RAP Song)..where the Music's not even necessary...the WORDS set up a Rhythm that's HIT-Worthy..& Classic.

The WORDS make the Difference between a National Anthem (Ours) and a Pub Song (Where it was lifted-from-the-Brits, Originally.)

Yes, it's agreeably EASIER for a Lyricist to create a SONG if ya learn an Instrument. But "a Necessity?" Nah..(& I got 2000+ Exhibit "A"s over the last 5-6 years or so.) MOST of the Songs on the Charts HAVE a Pair Of Writers..& One did the Words/Other did The Music. Specialization. It Works!

Thanks for The Thread, Amigo!
Big Guy-Hug,
Stan
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/21/09 04:35 PM

There was a songwriting duo a while back I think they were called Lennon and McCartney. They wrote a few songs together.

Who wrote the lyrics and who wrote the music? and which one could not play an instrument or hold a tune, or had no understanding of basic music composition?

It is not necessary to learn to play an instrument or the basic theory of song construction and recording etc.....BUT IT SURE HELPS.
Posted By: Tom Shea

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/22/09 05:27 PM

What is BIAB?

Tom
Posted By: Kevin Emmrich

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/22/09 05:38 PM

BIAB = Band in A Box from PG Music. They now have realdrums and realtracks available for use. The realtracks are ultra cool. You just put in the chord progression and the Realtracks (real samples played by real musicians on real instruments) selects passages to play based on the chords/tempo.

Here is a song with all real tracks except for a short acoustic lead break by me and some rhythm electric guitar by me at the end of the tune: http://soundclick.com/share?songid=6470939 -- the drums, bass, acoustic rhythm, pedal steel and harmonica are all BIAB. One of these days I'll re-do Wednesday Girl in BIAB.

Kevin
Posted By: John Lawrence Schick

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/22/09 06:05 PM

I think one of the reasons there are more lyricists than composers is because the basic necessities of writing are provided to everyone from the start of school (vocabulary, grammar, spelling, etc). At least everyone learns the language of writing.

However, it's quite a different scenario acquiring the necessities to compose music. Not everyone has the opportunity in their youth.

Best, John smile
Posted By: Nadia

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/22/09 08:02 PM

Thank you for an interesting thread, Jean. Some people would say that lyrics are not as important as music and find examples of famous songs where the words aren't really important at all or we don't know what the words are about as it's in a different language, some maintain that the lyrics are important and find examples to support their view. For me the lyrics are very important as they give me an inspiration to compose my music. I find it's important to like the lyric and being able to relate to it, like some people say, it should speak to me. I don't like forced rhymes or something in the lines not making sense. I've been collaborating with different lyricists and I think trust, loyalty and honesty are very important. The ability to discuss the work and being flexible on both parts - for the composer being ready to change the music if the lyricist isn't happy or comes up with some different ideas for the lyric when the work is already in a process, for the lyricist to be ready to change the lines and even rearrange them if the composer is suggesting it. Also if the composer comes up with the suggestions for some lines, not just suggest something else instead (one of the composers was saying about it on another thread) but seriously consider them. I think some lyricists feel very strongly about their work and decide if the composer is asking for a change, the lyric is not for this composer. This is often not the case though as there are always some ways for improvement and it's so important for the composer to be able to relate well to the lyric. I think that it always helps when the lyricist is saying change whatever you feel the lyric needs. When the lyricist says it to me, I don't ever change for the sake of changing and I always say what I'd like to change but it feels so good to have this trust. I also always feel grateful to the lyricists who say they are happy for me to upload the finished song whenever I feel is right and to send the song to any publishers/artists. Again I always let them know where the song is uploaded or sent but it helps so much when it's so easy to communicate.
It would be fantastic if the lyricist either was able to play an instrument or sing or have a good recording software but I appreciate it's not always possible. The main thing is though to have a good working relationship. MAB wrote straight to the point saying relationship three times.
Nadia
P.S. One more point. It would be helpful to know if the lyricist submits the lyric to different composers or just to me. Personally I don't find it interesting to work on my music if I know that the lyric is submitted to someone else for a different song. I know that I wouldn't submit the same music to different lyricists.
Posted By: Kathy Bampfield

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/22/09 09:37 PM

The short version is we have something to say!

I don't hear music in my head but when I co write I can feel the music and contribute to what we are writing.
Posted By: Hummingbird

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/22/09 10:30 PM

I can't believe we only have 80 entries in the 2009 JPF Lyric Awards. Last time we did this contest we had 500!!! If we don't get more interest, I doubt Brian will do it again.

Have you entered?
Posted By: Kathy Bampfield

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/22/09 10:36 PM

I haven't
Posted By: Tom Shea

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/23/09 05:19 PM

Thanks for the information Kevin.

Tom
Posted By: summeoyo

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/23/09 06:51 PM

Frankly to answer the question posed: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - It's because there's less time involved in being lyric-only. We all have other interests and obligations in addition to our music pursuits. Those who have less distractions from music tend to do better if they have the talent, persistance, and work "smart". Those who learn to play and compose music have a larger time requirement to dedicate to their craft, because learning music and learning to play music takes time. Many don't want to or are currently in circumstances where they can't set aside the time necessary. It depends on one's personal priorities. I agree with many of the comments on this thread about lyricists learning to read and play music themselves as a means to improving their craft. It's a matter of learning the perspectives involved in writing and (for those who expand to performing)singing songs. The more working knowledge one has from actually participating in all aspects of the creative process, the better potential they have for writing a hit.
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 12:39 PM

I think we have to remember that music is not something that musicians have a copyright on. Music is everyday business for us all if we apply the broadest definition.

Listen to a baby babble, a bird sing, your grandma tell stories, the water in your sink and the wind howling past your ears. All of this has music in it.

A lyricist thinking about a subject, choosing words, structuring meaning units, organizing rhyme patterns etc, is as musical as anything I know.

When there lyrics are enhanced by particular tones, and interpreted on instruments it certainly add to the expression, and becomes more musical as more musical elements are added, but not more musical in terms of better quality. It's just layers of musical expression.

I think it is really great to have these layers, as it is really demanding to write great lyrics. Every layer in a musical production is highly specialized, so a division of work between specialists can really make songs shine IMO

Part of why there are so many lyricists only could be because it is really difficult to be a great lyricist, and that it takes so much effort and focus to reach that level, that other parts of the musical process is put in the background.

From other musicians I hear all the time that they don't feel any good with writing lyrics, but sure they can play the hell out of a song when everything is there. When I was playing, I remember feeling the same (and still not feeling up to par).

Same goes for many lyricists, when they feel competent in writing lyrics, wants to start learning an instrument or take music theory classes. It has always been a good strategy to get good at something first, then you can get some work done and team up with others, while you thereafter develop in other areas.
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 12:45 PM

Great post. I agree. Just to take it a stage further on the time element, lyrics can be penned fairly quickly and costs nothing. I can write lyrics in just a few minutes. To compose music and record a demo can take many many hours PLUS EXPENSIVE STUDIO TIME..
Posted By: niteshift

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 01:26 PM

Ditto on the time thing. The lyrical component, time wise, equates to less than 10% of production time. Music, in general, takes ten times longer to learn than lyric writing. There are ten lyricists to every musician. Perhaps it should be stated as the "Ten to One Theory of Songwriting".

cheers, niteshift
Posted By: Caroline

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 02:15 PM

What a response! It seems to me that some of you musical minds forget that not every one is honestly capable of actually "making" beautiful music. If they were, none of us would have anything more to do than self entertain!

I can play, a little, I can pluck on the guitar and plink away on the piano, but coming up with a solid musical melody isn't my talent.

Just as I can drive my car, but not change the oil, can I learn? Sure, I certainly can, but I don't because there are people out there who are interested in that, when I'd take long enough to ruin my car, they make a living doing that, and it's relatively cheap (not to say, so much easier) for me to allow one of these folks, already in the know, to take on this task. I've been involved in some under the hood trials, it's not a place I should be, let me tell ya! Yes, just as with my guitar, I know the basics, enough to get me by if I chose to take on the task, but I'd never perform this task as well as those who make it look as easy as brushing their teeth.

Yes, I'm still working on learning more, playing more, but my comfort zone, and confidence, when actually playing, is almost nonexistant.

I agree, every writer should learn to play something, even if it's a tambourine, just to keep time, but please, please, PLEASE!!! don't ever assume that we, who don't play, haven't tried. You guys (and gals) for the most part, seem to have your instruments of choice, attatched to your bodies, it's an extension, and it shows that you have a natural gift.

Talent, any talent, is a gift. I'm amazed when I see someone play a guitar as easily as they walk. I'm also impressed when I see a beautiful cake decorated, knowing that it would have been all but impossible for me to decorate such a work of art. I'm struck by the beauty of architecture, yet I'll never draw, nor build such a monument. I'm in awe of a wedding gown, with all the intricate detail that I'd never have the patience to create. With all of the many things I admire (and the list goes on) does it mean, I should learn to decorate a cake before I eat another slice? Should I learn to draw a blueprint, or build before I enter another structure that makes my mind wonder where the idea came from? Do I have to learn to sew before I can wear a pretty dress again? Do I have to learn to play a full song, before I take part in creating a song others will enjoy?

Yeah, I know, off track, a little dramatic, but really when you think about it, if you had to learn to cook before you could eat, you'd starve.

Ok, I'm done, off to pluck some strings and plink some keys. Happy now???
(kidding)
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 07:29 PM

Originally Posted by niteshift
Ditto on the time thing. The lyrical component, time wise, equates to less than 10% of production time. Music, in general, takes ten times longer to learn than lyric writing. There are ten lyricists to every musician. Perhaps it should be stated as the "Ten to One Theory of Songwriting".

cheers, niteshift


Now, I think thats a disrespectful radical standpoint, nite. How many great lyricists do you know? How long did it take eg Dianne Warren to write great lyrics? You can learn to play guitar sufficiently to write songs in two-five years, if you study intensely and have the right attitude.

I will have to differ on this, as I just don't think it's true. Yes, it is a fact than anyone can sit down and try to write a lyric on the spot without any prior knowledge, but that doesn't make that person a lyricist, and certainly not a great one. To be a great writer takes many years of hard study and practice, unless you're blessed with some Mozart like genious.

The fact that musicians often doesn't appreciate or understand the craft in great lyric writing, is a completely different discussion. But to suggest that lyric writing in general is something lesser than the other elements in music, and that lyrics take less than 10% of the average production time, is a very narrow perspective on the effort a great lyric demands IMO
Posted By: niteshift

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 07:53 PM

Hey Magne,

As a producer, I do stand by my statement. To take a track to finished status, takes a lot of work. ( and a lot of time, expertise, and money )

If you count up how much time, each particular element takes, then lyrics take up about 10%, or less.

Let's list those who are involved...

Lyricist
Composer
Bass player
Guitarist
Drummer
Keyboard player/Programmer
Incidental soloist
Vocalist
Engineer
Producer
Mastering Engineer
Coffee server ( usually put on the credits as Audio Assist )

And that may still only be to demo stage. I don't downplay the role of the lyricist, I'm simply saying that everyone has a job to do, and eveyone needs to know their function in that role, as part of the whole process.

I don't value one aspect over another, they're all important in the scheme of things. And those who are exceptional at what they do, will marry up with others that do the same.

I do appreciate great lyricits, as part of the whole. Not as a seperate entiity, some of whom think they are "special".

cheers, niteshift

Posted By: Caroline

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 08:06 PM

Mag,
I actually agree with the 10-1 ratio, I don't find it offensive at all. I don't see a reason to have a war over who does more, making a song work is like making a marriage work, it takes both parties doing what they do best.

Everyone else, this is just my opinion, so don't take anything personally.

The fact is, I write, and write and write, and write. I can write a lyric in 15 minutes, it may still need work, but it'd get the point across and be able to pull on a melody. That part is true, but learning how to write correctly didn't happen over night. I've looked at lyrics, I've had some major errors, I've had some dumb-luck, good ones too. I've taken every bit of coaching I could drag out of folks I've come across. Overall though, I'm still learning. So, it's not as easy as some might imply, to write a solid lyric that will still be that way once it has music.

I think everyone has their niche (sp?) and for some, it may be picking up an instrument that makes music, for others, it may be picking up a different instrument that makes what our mind sees, visible to the world.

Honestly, I don't see a reason for this. If you write your own music, you write your own lyrics, great! Some of us don't/won't/can't, so if a composer would rather not work with those of us who don't play, that's fine, after all, there are composers who will, we peons can work with them (that's sarcasm guys, no need to get offended, lol)

I do agree that learning what a composer does, the time taken, the effort on their part, is important. I also agree that to have a full appreciation for the other party, you should at least put forth a solid effort to learn something useful. If I write 10 lyrics a day, I'm not going to get 10 full songs back the next from the composer I work with. Knowing what their end entails is helpful, to say the least. I do feel that if a composer feels they are doing most of the work, they shouldn't take on a cowrite with a lyricist, this only breeds friction, which I've encountered and posted on in another thread. So, if you as a musician, a composer, don't want to work with those of us who are handicapped, it's not a big deal, but why should it be a big deal that we don't play or learn to? And why is it lyricists being picked on? Not all artists can write their own material, some never even try, but they get all the public credit. No one scoffs at them, or the singers who don't play, but can write, or the players who don't sing, for that matter, why leave anyone out? It's a big musical web we're on, balance is best achieved when we all keep our places and do our parts, I think.

OK, babbling now, bye!
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 08:20 PM

Originally Posted by niteshift
Hey Magne,

As a producer, I do stand by my statement. To take a track to finished status, takes a lot of work. ( and a lot of time, expertise, and money )

If you count up how much time, each particular element takes, then lyrics take up about 10%, or less.

Let's list those who are involved...

Lyricist
Composer
Bass player
Guitarist
Drummer
Keyboard player/Programmer
Incidental soloist
Vocalist
Engineer
Producer
Mastering Engineer
Coffee server ( usually put on the credits as Audio Assist )

And that may still only be to demo stage. I don't downplay the role of the lyricist, I'm simply saying that everyone has a job to do, and eveyone needs to know their function in that role, as part of the whole process.

I don't value one aspect over another, they're all important in the scheme of things. And those who are exceptional at what they do, will marry up with others that do the same.

I do appreciate great lyricits, as part of the whole. Not as a seperate entiity, some of whom think they are "special".

cheers, niteshift



I won't argue with you, nite, I've said my piece.. and I think my pointe is valid - but you forgot the pizza guy.. it makes a great difference if it's a schrimp, ham or pepperoni song :-)
Posted By: niteshift

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 09:00 PM

Hey Magne,

Quite true mate. The pizza delivery guy has a lot to answer for. In fact, he can change the whole direction of the session. I'll make sure to put extra anchovies on yours when we get to work together one day. smile

Hey Caroline, you said this.......

Quote
And why is it lyricists being picked on?


You're not ! It's just there are some who simply don't recognise, or are not aware, of their part in the whole scheme of things.

In any production, eveyone has a role to play. That role is part of the whole, which contributes to the overall quality of a piece. I would not comment on the lyricists role, any more than I would comment upon how the string section has been arranged. That's the role of the of the orchestrator.

It's not a fight for importance. It's a fight for quality product, and if each can recoginise their place in the whole scheme of things, the battle is half won.

cheers, niteshift

Posted By: Caroline

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 09:13 PM

Well put, nite!

I was only kidding though, I just really feel like we all have our parts, and even the small ones are important. Just as in acting, there are no small roles...
Posted By: niteshift

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 09:30 PM

Quite agreed !

If you can recognise your role, stick to it, be called upon to give guidance in it, are damn good at what you do in it, and can put foward an opinion, which contributes to a positive outcome, then I reckon, you're doing Ok.

I always say, there is no minor contributor. There's those that contribute, and there's those along for a free ride. There's no fee ride.

cheers, niteshift
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 10:10 PM

I wrote that writing lyrics is inexpensive and less time consuming as compared to composing music, learning to play an instrument or recording a demo. The reason I mentioned this was not to belittle lyricists but to highlight the fact that composers cannot produce at the same fast work rate as lyricists. That probably accounts for one of the main reasons why there are more lyrics awaiting music than music awaiting lyrics.
Posted By: Caroline

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 10:10 PM

OK, Kevin, ya gonna tell me how to work this band in a box or do I have to read the whole 310 page manual? HA! Came in today, I'm excited, I've already been putting some stuff together, nothing useful, but it'll get easier as I learn what all this stuff is on here. Course, feel free to offer the crash course, I'm always trying to not read manuals if I can get away with it. What I'm trying to figure out right now is how to record without the music that's on there. I'll find the shut off eventually.,
Posted By: Scott Campbell

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 10:23 PM

I wish the 10:1 theory worked for me.

It's probably exactly opposite - I think I spend 10 times the hours writing a lyric that I do for everything else combined. Now I just have to figure out whether that means I write too slow or compose and record too fast. Suspect it's a combination... smile

Scott

EDIT: I exaggerate to some extent smile

Every song is different of course but I think a rough average for me would be:

Compose a melody: 3 hrs
Record and mix a song: 8 hours
Write a lyric: 20 hours

Hard to say with the last one though, as I am multi-tasking (write most of my lyrics in the car driving to work). Not physically writing, of course, just thinking them....

Wonder what the typical times are for you others?
Posted By: Kevin Emmrich

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 10:31 PM

The best thing you can do is to play around with the demos that are in there for a little while.

-- On the left hand side of the main BIAB page (just above the 1A bar marker) there is a button called Style....

-- Click that and the style page will come up (might have to build for the first time).

-- Click on country or something to limit the number of styles to a manageable number and then at the top of that styles sheet, there is something called Load Demo Song. Load that and listen.

Did you get any real tracks with your version of BIAB? The demos with realtrack load a lot slower than midi-only files!

So, when I get started on a new song, I look for demos/styles that are close to the tempo I want (and sometimes you may have to go through 100 demos before you say -- "hey, that's close"). I then type in my chords the best I can and then start playing around.

I do not record in BIAB/RB (although many people do). I get the backing the way I want and export wav files over to my recording software (SONAR HomeStudio) and work over there. Why do I do it that way -- because I know how sonar works (sort of) and I didn't see any need to learn something else, too!!

Oh well, have fun and the BIAB forum is populated with folks that are really, really helpful.

BIAB Forum: http://www.pgmusic.com/ubbthreads/postlist.php?Cat=0&Board=UBB1

Kevin
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 10:39 PM

Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
I wrote ... to highlight the fact that composers cannot produce at the same fast work rate as lyricists. That probably accounts for one of the main reasons why there are more lyrics awaiting music than music awaiting lyrics.


Jim, I believe that's true but only to a certain extent. While there are certainly lyricists who can crank 'em out in minutes, it can take hours, days, and more to perfect a lyric. wink Often the revision takes two or three times as long - or longer - as it took to write the original lyric, and tweaking can go on right up to the moment of recording.

(I recall reading that Trisha Yearwood's hit, She's in Love with the Boy, took the lyricist ages to complete it. He re-wrote it something like 32 times.)

Donna
Posted By: Nadia

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/25/09 11:29 PM

I think every song has its story and while some songs I've created in less than a day, most took months on working and reworking. When I collaborate with the lyricists, I'm just trying to do my very best in composing my music and making sure it's what the lyricist is happy with, I can work and rework my music as many times as it needs to be so that the result is positive.
Nadia
Posted By: Two Singers

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/26/09 12:43 AM

Another interesting discussion folks...and, as Kevin said...civil!

In a thread like this, I wonder if all of you contributors fully realize how much information you are pouytting out to everyone else. There is a vast collection of thoughts, ideas, approaches, suggestions, constructive debates, etc., contained in this thread. I do think that a realtive newcomer to music, lyricist or otherwise, could garner a lot to think about by simply reading through this thread with the intent of learning.

Civil discussion almost always results in a significant benefit to someone involved, or to someone auditing the dicussion, in one way or another.

I enjoyed this thread a lot! The varying perspectives and approaches gived everyone more than a one size fits all approach to the creative processes of the musica compostion arena.

Kudos to all of you for your imformed and educational points and replies. Good job, folks!

Today was the first day in many, many months that I have been able to enjoy a prolonged visit here at JPF. You folks made it worthwhile! Thanks!

Alan
Posted By: Noel Downs

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/26/09 02:45 AM

Most every one speaks in one form or another, most of us have imagination and memory.... a great number can also read and write.... So coming up with a string of words that can be a lyric or poem can be very natural for the great majority...

Knowing and playing a few chords is not melody writing.... many lyric writers, write their lyric to a melody.... but do not have the fundamental tools to translate that to a form that a "few chord" musician can play especially if they sing in different keys... Sure I can come up with a passable melody... but compared to a composer with talent ...all the "complete" songs sound the same...

What makes a great craftsman is knowing your limitations and finding the ways overcome them that leads the end result being as good as it can get.

......

Cheers smile
Posted By: Kristi McKeever

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/26/09 04:21 AM

Originally Posted by Scott Campbell
I wish the 10:1 theory worked for me.
.... as I am multi-tasking (write most of my lyrics in the car driving to work). Not physically writing, of course, just thinking them....

Wonder what the typical times are for you others?


If I had to put a time frame on writing a lyric it would not be in hours. I think you have to factor in the “thinking time” that's mentioned by Scott here that factors into creating the story, deciding on a theme and message and then finding the words to express those ideas. Sitting down to write a lyric is the LAST phase and that in and of itself can take days, weeks, months. And then, like some have suggested, there are always revisions to be made. Every part of songwriting is a creative process that comes from within unique individuals who put their own special stamp on a song. Although assigning lyrical “percentages” is arbitrary at best, even if the lyric is considered only 10:1…..without it, the song would be affected much more than 10%.
Posted By: Z. Mulls

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/26/09 04:53 AM

We're dealing with two completely different meanings of the word "song" as well. Traditionally, a "song" was a melody set to words played on a piano. If it was good, someone arranged it for an orchestra or big band to play so someone could sing it. Those folks on Tin Pan Alley or up in the Brill Building weren't deeply involved in music production, recording, bands in boxes -- they sat at their piano and wrote songs, the composer and lyricist. Rodgers and Hart, Leiber and Stroller, etc.

But today, we use the word "song" to also refer to the whole package. "I downloaded a 'song' today" "Did you hear that new Britany Spears 'song'?" This evolved from the early 60s when artists like the Beatles wrote their own music, and did concept albums, and got into studios with producers who created walls of sound, to today, where people are starting to become one-stop-shops, composing writing lyrics doing their own production, etc.

So many composers in this discussion are saying "song" to mean the *recording* while many of the lyricists are saying "song" as in the music and lyrics that form the basis for the recording. And a lot of people are talking past each other.

It's important to separate -- even if you do it all -- the processs of writing from the process of producing. The question of the lyricist's contribution to the song is different from his/her contribution to the business of recording and selling music.

There are genres where the lyrics don't matter ("ooh-ooh, ahh-ahh,baby") and there are artists who can sing their cell phone bill and will sell downloads. There are genres (folk, country, cabaret, indie rock) where the lyrics really sell the song and make at least half the difference between a catchy melody you'll forget tomorrow and that song/concept/story that you keep coming back to throughout your life.

If you produce and record your own music, that's great. But if your music is wonderful and your lyrics are just OK, why not give the person who specializes in wordsmithing a little space to work?
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/26/09 05:54 AM

I could crank out music much faster than full lyrics. I don't think it's true that cranking out lyrics quickly is why we think there are more lyricists. I think the answer is far more simple. People are taught to write words as little kids and most of us do it every day in one way or another. Very few kids (and getting fewer by the day) are taught music in school. I wasn't. Not because I didn't want to learn, but because the only option to learn to play music was to be in the band and if you played football, you were allowed to ALSO be in the band at my school. And, as a younger child, we never had the money for an instrument. So financial means and school policy kept me from being able to learn how to write music so I never did. Even though I wrote and recorded over 2000 songs (100% with music, about 70% had lyrics) I did it with no knowledge of music theory beyond my own. I also played in many bands and did many shows and it was all without training. I didn't own my first instrument until I got a little keyboard that had a memory feature to record the notes you played (chords and single notes, not polyphonic). I started there and when I got out of college (still with no money to that point since I put myself through college 100%) I took out a loan to get some things to start my own home and with some of the money bought 2 small keyboards. But I started writing much earlier. I wrote stories, plays and lyrics going back to the age of 7. My first full script was at the age of 11 when I wrote something called "Mr. Jaws" which was a parody of the Jaws movie I had seen with my Grandma in 1975.

When people can write, but are shut out of music lessons or having access to an instrument, they can't develop those skills so writing lyrics is obvious. And once someone gets older, it's actually scarier and more difficult to find and take lessons as a complete novice. So most just buy an instrument and self teach and sometimes have a knack for it. But it's a huge disadvantage.

Sorry if someone else already made the same argument, I haven't had a chance to read any of the posts. Kinda had something else to focus on the last 14 months.

Brian
Posted By: niteshift

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/26/09 08:09 AM

Hey Kristi,

Yes, I quite agree. To develop a storyline, and a theme, and then be able to compress it into 4 minutes, with relevance and detail, is a hard ask. That's where a lyricists talent lies, in my opinion. To use a word, a phrase, to capture a moment and create great imagery.

I've learnt a lot from this thread. Sometimes, we are so focused on outcomes, that we miss the small detail, which enables a work to be whole. If each part of the team focus's on their detailed part, knowing that others do the same, you can't help but get a better result in the end.

As you say, without the 10%, the song will fall on it's ass. Likewise, all the other parts.

Interesting and constructive approach here.

cheers, niteshift
Posted By: Caroline

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/26/09 11:26 PM

Hi Big Jim,
You have made an excellent point. It does take longer to actually make the music, into a finished product with the vocal track, and have it all come together smoothly. Not to mention the time it takes to learn how to do that, besides how to actually play the instruments. You guys that have that mastered are my heros! I'm completely confused by a small program and you guys sit there wath a couple hundred buttons and seem to know what they all do. It's inspiring and intimidating at the same time.
Perfecting a lyric should not take as long, but it can take a long time, but that in no way means a lyricist is only working on one lyric.
I think we all need to try to learn as much as possible, if for no other reason tohan to have an understanding of how it all works.
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/27/09 02:15 AM

Originally Posted by the songcabinet
but you forgot the pizza guy..

Yeah! zombie
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/27/09 02:18 AM

It doesn't take very long at all to write a crappy lyric.

Ah, but those great ones, that's another story.
Posted By: Caroline

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/27/09 02:41 AM

Mark, you are so right. I can write at least 5 crappy ones a day, but the good ones, those I want to listen to when they have that fine melody, yeah, they can take hours, or days, and longer. I just finished one today, I've been typing at for about 5 months, 3 different versions and I finally flet it write itself, and it still needs work. But I'm going to let the composer see what he thinks, see how he feels about the flow, and we'll go from there. I know it's not complete, even in the state I'm happy that it's in now, but I know it can still be better.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/27/09 02:52 AM

Kevin,

Your header is "Why are there so many lyric-only folks?"

...and in the body of your opening post is

"It seems to me that any aspiring songwriter has to (mandatory, required, no excuses) learn how to play the piano or guitar to at least make suitable work tapes.

* ** ** ** ** ** ***

So it seems to me that there is a hidden assumption here. That being that "ALL lyricists are aspiring songwriters", and to this I can say that this assumption is entirely false.

There are some lyricists that wish they knew music and of these many rectify their situations.

Many, however, are happy to work with composers. One definition of symbiosis is "any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups." And so many lyricists and composers find value in the old-fashioned concept of... "working together"...

When one can work on either music or lyric, I think one can put a lot more concentrated energy into such an endeavor, and concentrated energy usually results in better work than static energy. It's known as "focus", and isn't focus easier when one can "clear the deck" for it, and isn't "clearing the deck" easier when one has less on deck?

It is hard for one to lift oneself up by one's bootstraps, and so it is hard to "surprise" oneself in a solo situation, whereas the element of surprise and "stuff happening that you alone would never have thought of" is part and parcel of songwriting teams. In a word: they are fun, and they promote trust, compromise, and many other interpersonal skills.

Should a lyricist know something about music? Goes without saying, but nothing beyond a little theory need be known. But you pose the question, "why aren't they "doin' it for themselves", and this is what I have been addressing here.

Mike
Posted By: Everett Adams

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/27/09 04:22 PM

Lyrics are my strong point, I play guitar, barely, but I find playing guitar (even poorly) greatly improves my lyric writing. Sometimes I write down lyrics when I don't have access to the guitar, but when I pick up the guitar to play to those lyrics, I find I sometimes have to make changes to make them work. So needless to say, I usually write both together.
Posted By: Kevin Emmrich

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/27/09 04:40 PM

Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
So it seems to me that there is a hidden assumption here. That being that "ALL lyricists are aspiring songwriters", and to this I can say that this assumption is entirely false.

I think you've over complicated my initial post, but that's OK -- you are free to interpret as you wish. I do have a question, though: If the assumption that ALL lyricists are aspiring songwriters is false, then what are they aspiring to? Do you mean that some lyric writers never want music to be added to their words? I'm so confuuuused.

Quote
"why aren't they "doin' it for themselves",

It was not really "let me do it myself and cut the composer out", but more "if I don't do it, then it probably won't happen". I've been here for 3 years and I think there is more collab'ing going on then ever before. But the sad fact is, that unless the lyricist pays someone, 99% of these lyrics will not hear a strum or piano plunk.

Kevin

Posted By: Letha Allen

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/27/09 06:56 PM

Hi Kevin, Hi all,

This is such an interesting thread. I believe this is part of why JPF is so great, that we have the opportunity to discuss our thoughts and feelings about writing, and get such a broud view of so may personal experiences. It teaches us, makes us understand other writers expereiences, and makes us grow.

I have been stranded at my daughters with a car that tore up since Thursday night, and have not been able to pick up my guitar, record, write, or even listen much. But I have been reading.

Lyricists in my opinion have a gift, ust as musicicans do. Some have more of a gift than others of course, as in all things. Some have more passion, some have honed the art of lyric writing over many years of practicing the art. There have been lyrics in here that touched me so much that it felt like they were calling out to me. There have been musical compositions that did the same.

I think that every tiny piece that joins together in music is important. Like a puzzle, if the right pieces are put in the right place, you can have a beautiful result.

I started playing guitar and writing almost at the same time, but that was when I was a child. I worked in a bank at one time, and they asked me to play for our Christmas party. I wrote a personalized Christmas song, and something the ceo said to me after I performed always stayed in my mind. He told me how much he loved the song, but then he said the felt like people who could do something like that sometimes seem to just take it for granted, and that we did not know how much people who could not do it admired the ones who could. I have heard other people say similar things, like "It's easy for you, because you can just play anything". Well, that is not true, but to them if felt true.

I am not an accomplished musician, know my own limitations, and love to work with people who are more skilled in that area. You see, even thought I play a few instruments, and can record my own songs, I also have the desire to have help from people who can make them the best that they can be.

I love working with cowriters when there is a connection of some kind between us, whether it be a lyric that I want so badly to try to sing, a musical composition that makes me want to write and sing, lol, or just a colab on the whole package with one or more great people to work with.

I guess what my point is, that we are all important pieces of creating, whether we are a non playing lyricist, a non singing composer, a producer or someone who can do it all. I love and respect every intricate piece that it takes to finish that puzzle, so that we can see, (in this case hear), the beauty of the finised creation.

Letha
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/27/09 07:32 PM

Originally Posted by Kevin Emmrich
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
So it seems to me that there is a hidden assumption here. That being that "ALL lyricists are aspiring songwriters", and to this I can say that this assumption is entirely false.

I think you've over complicated my initial post, but that's OK -- you are free to interpret as you wish. I do have a question, though: If the assumption that ALL lyricists are aspiring songwriters is false, then what are they aspiring to? Do you mean that some lyric writers never want music to be added to their words? I'm so confuuuused.

Quote
"why aren't they "doin' it for themselves",

It was not really "let me do it myself and cut the composer out", but more "if I don't do it, then it probably won't happen". I've been here for 3 years and I think there is more collab'ing going on then ever before. But the sad fact is, that unless the lyricist pays someone, 99% of these lyrics will not hear a strum or piano plunk.

Kevin



Don't be confused Kevin. As I clearly state, many lyricists are simply trying to be the best lyricists that they can be. Of course they want their lyrics set to music. Did you miss the three paragraphs I wrote about the value of forming relationships with others? Your question "Do you mean that some lyric writers never want music to be added to their words?" seems to overlook that, with a little effort on the part of a lyricist, relationships can be formed with composers, and "viola": where you had JUST a lyricist and a composer before, NOW you have a songwriter...make that a "collab" or "songwriting partnership."

I would recommend to all lyricists that they form relationships with composers, even those lyricists who do choose to learn music, and I have never said that there is anything wrong with that. In fact, I have been simply addressing your false assumption that "ALL lyricists want to write music too" (ie are "aspiring songwriters", as you put it), which to me, borders on the absurd, and even if ALL lyricists DO want to write music, many know their own limitations, and so pursue other options to complete the songwriting process.

The "life experience" of forming relationships can be more rewarding, and the end-product can be better. I know this first hand. I have done both. I speak from experience. I have also seen many lyricists write songs with great lyrics and God-awful music, because they "learned music" just enough to write a bad song. I've also seen lyricists, sometimes the same ones, work with composers, and seen the work that these ersatz marriages produced far exceed the sum of their parts. Life is full of symbiotic relationships where the sum of the two parts can make for an exceedingly beautiful "whole."

Ultimately, Kevin, you did ask "why" aren't more lyricists learning music, right? My rebuttal to you does in a roundabout way answer your question. Let me say it again clearly: because many lyricists have decided, rightly or wrongly, that their time is better spent simply writing a better lyric, and pursuing and sometimes forming relationships with others who can help them complete the songwriting process.

Let us not be so presumptuous as to judge the merit of each individual lyricist who might not be pursuing the learning of music! Some of these lyricists might know exactly what they are doing, and may have a "plan" that includes other people in it.

Hope that clears up any confusion! smile

Marc Barnette summed it up in three words: "relationship, relationship, relationship."

Mike
Posted By: Janice Hopkins

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/29/09 05:22 PM

Michael....I could not have said it better....except in a lyric.

But now I don't have to spend my valuable time stating that...because you just said it for me and all of my fellow lyricists....who have learned over time where their strengths lie and have also learned to recognize different strengths in others...enough to form relationships that then create....the SONG.


Jan....lyricist by trade....HA
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/30/09 12:10 PM

OK we have reached the crucial part of the debate. I would pose the following question in light of what has been said on this and other similar threads re lyricists.

What is the difference between a poet and a lyricist?


I sure do not know the answer but know one thing for sure.... Any lyricist must have some idea of music theory, rhythm, and melody and how their words can be set to music.... otherwise they are not a lyricist but a poet.
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/30/09 01:48 PM

Big Jim,

On the poem and the lyric, master songwriter Sammy Cahn once wrote in his classic book The Songwriters Rhyming Dictionary;

"What's the difference between a poem and a lyric? My answer is that a poem is meant for the eye, while a lyric is meant for the ear, but both reach the mind and touch the heart."

So you're right, the lyricist must know how the words can be set to music. I don't know if they are poets if they don't, though :-)

The difference Cahn is talking about is about singability, and I would say also knowledge of musical genres come in handy today. Some things works well in one genre, but not at all in another.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/30/09 01:49 PM

Hi Big Jim,

What about all the "self-taught" musicians and lyricists whose only training was and is listening to and appreciating the kind of music and lyric that one wants to write?

Your definition seems to ignore this fact. Many people first listen, then appreciate, and then emulate, and then, after writing and writing and writing, create their own style...and all of this without any, how did you put it, "idea of music theory, rhythm, and melody and how their words can be set to music..", nope. All they did was listen, then appreciate, then emulate, etc. Well on down the line, they might learn that what they were doing intuitively was a "perfect rhyme" or a "consistent meter", etc.

So one can then argue that "a primitive" does know music theory, rhythm, etc,. intuitively, at some gut level, from going through this (listening...emulating) process... smile

If your definition does cover the extreme informality of many lyricists who intuitively write well without being able to "label" what they know, then I'm having a hard time finding much value in your definition of what makes a lyricist. To me it's the same as saying "anyone who wants to write must have some idea about the language they are writing in." Kinda...silently understood, I think. Most people "know" their home language. Much fewer can "articulate" what it is, exactly, that they know, cuz it never really comes up in life that much, just in school.

Mike
Posted By: Everett Adams

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/30/09 04:15 PM

Poetry and lyrics are two different things. Rarely can you take a poem and make it into a song, at least not with out a rewrite, and most of the time lyrics does not sound all that good read as a poem. I am not a poetry lover, hated it in school, still I started writing lyrics. Lyrics are more restrictive than poems, it has to fit with music. Poetry has more freedom and a number of styles. If I try to write a poem, it always turns into a song lyric, I want it to rhyme and have lines to match the other verses so it will work with music. Poetry has it's own music in the rhythm of the words and doesn't need music to support it.
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/30/09 11:44 PM

Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Hi Big Jim,

What about all the "self-taught" musicians and lyricists whose only training was and is listening to and appreciating the kind of music and lyric that one wants to write?

Your definition seems to ignore this fact. Many people first listen, then appreciate, and then emulate, and then, after writing and writing and writing, create their own style...and all of this without any, how did you put it, "idea of music theory, rhythm, and melody and how their words can be set to music..", nope. All they did was listen, then appreciate, then emulate, etc. Well on down the line, they might learn that what they were doing intuitively was a "perfect rhyme" or a "consistent meter", etc.

So one can then argue that "a primitive" does know music theory, rhythm, etc,. intuitively, at some gut level, from going through this (listening...emulating) process... smile

If your definition does cover the extreme informality of many lyricists who intuitively write well without being able to "label" what they know, then I'm having a hard time finding much value in your definition of what makes a lyricist. To me it's the same as saying "anyone who wants to write must have some idea about the language they are writing in." Kinda...silently understood, I think. Most people "know" their home language. Much fewer can "articulate" what it is, exactly, that they know, cuz it never really comes up in life that much, just in school.

Mike



I think you misunderstand my point and obviously have not read my other posts. Any lyricist who is any good has to have a certain knowledge of music theory and melody, meter, rhythm etc. This can be intuitive, self taught, formally taught or just by copying or emulating what has been done before. However learned it does not matter it is still knowledge.
I do not quite get your point about articulating. Language is absorbed as well as learned at school, college and university. Lots of people can write good stories, poems etc without having any specialist training or education. They know the theory behind writing through everyday experience and a basic education. We hear the spoken word and listen to music from cradle to grave so it is no wonder that we understand more than we appreciate even if we do not realise how we know these technicalities.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/09 12:05 AM

Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES

Any lyricist who is any good has to have a certain knowledge of music theory and melody, meter, rhythm etc. This can be intuitive, self taught, formally taught or just by copying or emulating what has been done before. However learned it does not matter it is still knowledge.


Then Jim, we are in agreement. smile
Posted By: Beth G. Williams

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/09 04:40 PM

Hello,

Guess I'm a little late to this party, but let me go out on a limb and say I agree with bits and pieces of what most everyone has said. smile Though obviously, being a lyricist, my leanings would be with those folks who recognize, understand and still appreciate the Lyricist As A Sole Entity. Would I like my lyrics "musicated"? Sure, sometimes. Do I lose sleep if they aren't? No. Could I plunk out a melody on my own? Perhaps. But at the end of the day, do I write for the sheer love of it? YES!!

Anyhoo, I think that discussion has been bandied about enough, so I just wanted to touch upon the lyrics vs. poems question. More specifically, I think the line between the two can be a bit blurry.

For instance, my writing background is in prose (copywriting, general interest essays, etc.). I did have some general musical "training" (several years of piano, self-taught on guitar, and selected to be a member of the state choir "back in the day") -- and I'm sure all of this helps me in some form or another when I'm writing lyrics.

BUT, you know what/who have been two of my biggest influences? Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein (whom I have mentioned before). The "sing-songability" of their work lends itself very well to both meter and rhyme -- the building blocks of lyric writing. Would I qualify them as "poets"? From my standpoint, yes....but speaking to Mag's (well, Sammy Cohn's) point about "visual" vs. "listening" pleasure, I think one would be hard-pressed to say these two gentlemen are best appreciated when read to oneself. In fact, I would choose to qualify their work as a "Feast for the heart, mind and soul."

In that sense, I think the difference between lyrics and poems can be simply a matter of semantics. smile

So there you go
Two cents from me
I hope you know
I'll surely be
Delighted if
We can agree
On lyricist
Equality
!! love


Have a good one,
Beth
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/09 04:57 PM

Hi Beth I agree with everything you say we are all just arguing about semantics.

Many poems can and have been set to music and many lyrics can be recited as poems.

What is the difference. IMO lyrics are poems that have already been set to music. Poems are perhaps lyrics awaiting music.
Posted By: beechnut79

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/09 09:27 PM

The way I have always describes song lyrics as is glorified poetry. But there are some who feel that if it doesn't have a repetitive chorus it can't become a song. In some formats that may be true, but there are many story songs that don't have a repetitive chorus. Best story song I can think of which became a major hit was "The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel.
Posted By: Randy P. Gendron

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/09 11:09 PM

Live and learn, and never trust anyone who sez, "You Must!" Especially when it's me.


Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/09 11:41 PM

A poem is spoken, a lyric is sung. Big difference.

A poem is not a lyric, and a lyric is not a song. Lyrics are meant to fly through the air, so when you write them, do it with that intention...and don't use words like "isthmus". It might be the perfect word for a story or poem, but it don't sing fer squat.
Posted By: Nadia

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/09 11:44 PM

Randy, it's true that theory can make an inspiration go for some time but it will be back. I think, the best thing to do is not to worry about it and just keep writing. You'll soon find that your inspiration is back because it was there for you before and it's natural for you. Good luck.
Nadia
Posted By: lucian

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/09 01:14 AM

I'm with Mark, about a poem being a poem, written to be expressed verbally, and lyrics written to be expressed through the medium of singing, within the constraints of a musical environment.

But it can happen that a lyric can be a poem as well. I'd argue some lyrics written by the late, great Richey Edwards formerly of the Manic Street Preachers stand up as great poems and, put to music by James Dean Bradfield, as great song lyrics in great songs, such as Motorcycle Emptiness and Faster.

And, interestingly, Richey Edwards, had very limited musical knowledge and just handed his words to JDB to see if he could make songs from them. It didn't always work, and some of their early songs suffered from this restrictive method of working, but when worked, it REALLY worked. So it can be done that way around, but I think you have to be genuine bona-fide great writer for it to.

These days the Manics' lyrics are written by bassist Nicky Wire, not in the same class a writer as Richey Edwards, but he is a musician and can sing a bit, so the results are more fluid songs, which has brought them wider commercial success, but without the same power and depth of their earlier songs.

So there isn't really a definitive way of doing things, just one that works for you.

Lucian
Posted By: Randy P. Gendron

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/09 01:54 PM

smile



Posted By: Nadia

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/09 02:03 PM

You are welcome, Randy. I haven't said anything new, I know, I just know though that it's easy to forget something like that when the feeling of not getting something you used to can overtake and make it hard. All the best,
Nadia
Posted By: Randy P. Gendron

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/09 03:34 PM

...write on!
Posted By: Jean Bullock

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/09 04:09 PM

A lyric is a poem that is written to be sung to a melody. Since it is meant to be sung to a melody, the line length and meter have to be consistent so that it can fit the melody. The stresses of the syllables have to fit the melody. The words a lyricist chooses must also be appropriate for the mechanics of singing.

Although lyrics can be verses only, a lyric is often written with other parts of the song in mind, Intro, refrain/chorus or repeated line, bridge and outro. .


As Everett mentioned, a poem does not have to have the consistency that is required of a lyric. Even when it is rhymed and metered, the meter can be variable and the line length as well. Poetry can have repeated lines too. Because a poem is meant to be recited rather than sung, there is more freedom in word choice.

If a poem is strictly metered, and the word choice is appropriate for singing, music can be set to it. Likewise, some lyrics read very well as a poem, even with a refrain or chorus.

The word lyric is derived from from latin and greek words that refer to a lyre.
The lyrical poetry of antiquity was recited or chanted while a lyre was strummed or plucked.

One thing I know for sure, if I were a guitar, I would hate it if someone made a lyre out of me. smile (Sorry, couldn't help it.)

Posted By: beechnut79

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/09 07:52 PM

As per Mark's post, there actually was a song once titled "Chirstmas on the Isthmus." Don't remember full lyric, but it was out when I was a child. That was before my first geography class, and didn't know for sure what an isthmus was then.
Posted By: Dave Rice

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/14/09 02:14 AM

Mark:

I've been watching and reading this thread since you asked the question. Simple answer: There are more people who "feel" music but cannot play an instrument of any kind... yet can still write. To me, it is an important distinction that they be able to imagine the melody (to some degree) otherwise, they would be poets only. (No disrespect to poets intended!) Of course there are all kinds of lyricists. Just like there are many kinds of nuclear physicists or electricians, etc.

From my limited perspective, the lyricist has the toughest "row to hoe" in the music world. Always looking for somebody who can "musicate" their creation without totally taking over, twisting the meaning, crushing the imaginary melodic direction or just being rude and inconsiderate.

My heart goes out to the lonely lyricist... but I challenge you to learn an instrument you feel comfortable with. Just learn to play chords so you can accompany your lyrics and better express what you intend the song to sound like. That does not mean that an arranger or composer cannot further improve what you have created... after all, that is their speciality. It is a two way street and both sides of the musical coin are so important.

Regards,

Dave Rice

http://www.ShowCaseYourMusic.com/DaveRice

Posted By: Kevin Emmrich

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/09/09 11:36 PM

Is it my imagination or are more lyricists tackling instruments nowadays?

Kevin
Posted By: ben willis

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/09/09 11:56 PM

That's a good thing Kevin. Now if we can get the other great lyricists here to learn guitar chords, that would be an accomplishment.

Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/10/09 12:13 AM

God help us if the musicians learn how to write lyrics...LOL
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/10/09 01:07 AM

Originally Posted by Kevin Emmrich
Is it my imagination or are more lyricists tackling instruments nowadays?
Kevin


I retrieved my keyboard (purchased last December but ignored from March) from the upstairs cupboard two weeks ago and am now armed with a new book called "Play Piano in a Flash" (plus a book of chords).

Will I become a musical force to be reckoned with? Only the Shadow knows... laugh laugh laugh

Donna
Posted By: MediaGuy1974

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/10/09 05:38 AM

Man, way too many great points made here. I don't think anyone can say there is a right or wrong point of view. There's an old country song that says, "Do what you do do well boy, do what you do do well". Rather obnoxious hook, but the point is there.
I've been playing guitar since I was 8, self taught. I got some formal training in HS band. Raised on Hank Williams, diggin Pink Floyd, I was a mess. But all those influences show up in my writing. But, remove any of those components, and maybe I can't write melodies, maybe not lyrics. We write what we know, whether it's music or lyrics. But, I do feel strongly that if you can only do one or the other, you limit your resources to just collaborators. Nothing wrong with that, but you're just a little handicapped at that point. Personally, I'm blessed with the ability to do both, whether good or not. I have only recently discovered the pleasure of working with collaborators, and that's really the best of both worlds. Music, is just that, with or without lyrics. But lyrics without melody and musical structure, isn't music, YET. Not to say that it can't/won't be. I have yet to be able to look at a set of lyrics that someone wrote, and come up with a melody, or chord structure for it. I work at it, but it's not there yet. Now, give me a simple melody, and the universe explodes in my head. That's the way my brain works. Others are more blessed, and with different abilities.
I believe there's a place for all these people, as long as they are grounded in reality. I may never write a hit song, but I've got tomorrows Top 40 running through my brain as I type.
Swing hard, in case you hit the ball.
Posted By: MediaGuy1974

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/10/09 05:53 AM

Sorry, one quick point for all the lyricists. I used to be able to burn the hell out of a guitar. But, a brain tumor destroyed my right side. My pick hand can't even keep a simple rhtythm now. But, I can strum a chord, and with a lot of patience, that allows me to at least maintain a meter in my head, the reference of the strum provides the melody relationship, and I'm not limited one bit in my songwriting. It's not necessary that you master an instrument, just be able to provide musical reference, and in time, melodies will spring from that.
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/10/09 10:28 AM

Steve we all have to adapt and adopt. We adapt to different circumstances and then adopt new ways of achieving things. The big danger that stagnates the production of new things is "comfort zones" We all to a certain degree work in our own little comfort zones. We should all strive to try out new ideas try to learn different things. Whether it is learning to play instruents, or utilising the new digital technology available, or collaboratiing with others we should all expand our horizons to encompass things that we may feel are alien.
Do what you do is good but it could be so much better if we try to learn to do what we presently cannot do.
Posted By: MATT STONEHAM

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/10/09 11:07 AM

Well done Big Jim.

I second every word of that, it's so true, if every one copied every format that had ever charted the world of music would be so boring.

Country music has gone that way no one is innovative anymore
most are writing in old over tried formats, all the singers are trying to sound the same.
No wonder Nashville is in such a state.

Hi Letha Allen,

Nice realistic piece you have written on this thread.
My Add.
A lyric writer who has no knowledge of chords and the underlying harmonies, is doomed from the start, all todays top writers,
can write to chords or without, (they must be able to do both, )anyone who can speak English ,can learn guitar or piano chords.





Posted By: Barry Williams

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 04:16 PM

Originally Posted by Kevin Emmrich
I just don't get it. Without music, it is just not a song. It seems to me that any aspiring songwriter has to (mandatory, required, no excuses) learn how to play the piano or guitar to at least make suitable work tapes. It would take no longer than 12 months for the "average bear" to become proficient enough on an instrument to compose at least pretty straight forward tunes.

Plus there's BIAB and other tools that can come up with pretty decent musical backings for any one who has learned the simplest basics of chord theory (it will only take a year).

So, what's stopping you lyric-only folks?

Kevin

P.S. Don't take offense -- I really want to know.


I would like to take a moment to respond to the orginal post. I agree completley with you Kevin that as a lyric writer you should be able to at the very least plunk out a few chords. I just bought my first guitar for this very reason. I've commited myself to a short term goal of learning and becoming proficent enough to play and sing at least 3 chords. Once I get there then I'll set another goal for myself, hopefully improving the way I write by learning more about chord progression. I've been writing lyrics for a little over 2 years now, and this to me seems like a natural progression to becoming a better writer.

The only point I disagree with is where you said, without music it just isn't a song. I would say that with music a song is better. Music adds texture, and layers, helps set the mood, and carries the lyrics. But I think if someone sings a song without the benefit of instruments being played along, it's still a song.

No offense taken, and most definatly none meant.
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 07:02 PM

I wonder just how many people who write "lyrics" only actually have a melody in place or a chord structure etc, albeit in their head. Kevin is correct..... a piece of prose without any music is a poem. It will always be a poem until a melody turns it into a song. I also agree that learning basic music theory and how to play an instrument is pretty essential when it comes to writing lyrics. I see people putting "lyrics" on the forums that obviously are just poems they hope may get turned into songs. Some do not have any recognisable meter or characteristics associated with lyrics that could be turned into a song. I do not have a problem with that but it is up to everyone to go the extra mile. Learning to play piano is probably easier than guitar plus modern keyboards are geared towards ease of play where a whole orchestra is at your fingertips.
Posted By: Barry Williams

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 07:26 PM

Hey Big Jim, First let me say you have an uncanny resemblence to my Uncle, who's name is Jim as well. Not that that has anything to do with this, just thought I'd let you know.

I can't speak for everyone, but as I write a lyric I try to sing it as I write to see how it will flow, and definatly before it ever gets posted up for critique I have my melody in place. I've usualy recorded how I want the song to sound, and played it back trying to listen for ways to improve it. I'm just trying to learn about chord progressions now, with hopes it will help me with lead ins from verse to chorus, and bridge and out.

I'm still of the thought though, that if I have a lyric, and a melody and can sing it, it's a song. With or without instruments.I guess we can agree to disagree on that point. The main thing for me is I do this because I love doing it, and learning to play an instrument will make it all the more enjoyable.
Posted By: "Tampa Stan" Good (D)

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 07:39 PM

HIDee Big Jim et al!

SOME of us Lyricists CAN Sing...(which, JMO, indicates we DO have a Musical "Sense" when we write...) and I can whistle whatever melody idea I have in-mind, whenever necessary. DO have a pile of un-learned Instruments lying around here...BUT..it takes Time & Money to Learn an Instrument/I'd so-far rather be writing the Next Lyric. I'll probably ALWAYS prefer a Musical Co-Writer, even AFTER I learn an instrument..since..heh..maybe "Misery Loves Company"..eh? (My One Year-or-Less Experience on Guitar..or Piano..certainly WON'T ever equal the experience level of whatever Co-Writer can be acquired.)

WOULD Elton John BE a major act without BERNIE Taupin? (Or would Bernie BE a Major CO-Writer without ELTON?)

You can have a Song with half the Partnership, but of course...but a HIT Song...I think having The PAIR surely helps.

As for Poetics..there's USUALLY some crafty Musico that can make a Song out of ANY Rhymed batch-of-words...just witness the Demo Mills in NashCity.

Waal...Isthmus be the time I gotta go off to work...but the Thread's been an enjoyable one~

Best Wishes/Big Hugs,
Stan

Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 08:50 PM

Hi Barry and My wee buddy Stan. I aree with both of you. My point is just that it is so much better and easier to produce great lyrics if the writer has some musical ability other than just being able to hum a tune. You do not need a degree in music or to be a virtuoso but knowing musical rudiments at least does help. It is also important that folk strive to be the best they can be and you cannot really do that without some theory or the ability to knock out a tune on some instrument.

I bet that Bernie Taupin knows more about music theory than he is given credit for.

I agree that some lyricists are not necessary great musicians and vice versa with musicians not being able to create good lyrics but I bet each knows more than a little about each others craft especially the top pros.
Posted By: MediaGuy1974

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 09:10 PM

Just a quick comment.
Barry, Stan, Jim, it appears you guys are really saying the same thing. When it comes to just lyrics, if you have a melody you can sing, whistle, or whatever, that's a song. Prose without a melody, are simply prose. On the importance of learning an instrument, I also agree, it will give you some sort of musical reference.
I recently had some bad things to say about the BIAB guys, I should have chosen my words better. My point was, I hate BIAB for live performance apps. I use it to compensate for my physical disability during the creative process, but I would never consider it for live performance. Just Me.
Thanks gang, lots of good stuff here.
Posted By: BIG JIM MERRILEES

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 09:30 PM

Steve BIAB is just another tool in the arsenal of music producers. What we use or choose not to use is down to availability, our musical and technical ability, experience, budget, personal preference and of course our own comfort zone.
The end product is all that matters. I know from personal experience tht nowadays there are shortcuts and easier ways of doing things that were not available even a few years ago. We should use them to our advantage....WHY.....cause everyone else does and we don't want to get left behind in the past with obsolete technology.
Posted By: MediaGuy1974

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 09:36 PM

Agreed Jim.
Posted By: in2piano

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 11:17 PM

Mike......
Ya just summed it up so well.

When I write lyrics I always have a tune in my head,
And I would agree with others here that having some basic knowledge about music theory surely would be a help.
But, there is plenty of talent out here for the one's who just have the talent or desire to put words forth as well.
I enjoy the tech people on this board...always amazing what comes out...I am just an old school keyboard guy...While I am truly fascinated with the high tech aspect I just fall back on the rudimentary function of just plunkin it out.

Larry




Posted By: in2piano

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/11/09 11:23 PM

Mags..


Well Said..


Larry
Posted By: Mackie H.

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 10/12/09 01:23 AM

An interesting thread--

Did you ever sit alone in a deep forest and listen to the music of NATURE?
As sure as you sit there, if you are a writer, an inspiration to put something on paper or tape will surface-- to describe the things you hear in the forest. If you don't write or tape anything, you have NATURE'S instrumental. It takes all kinds of co-lab work between Lyricist and Musician, as well as Producer. I am a better word person--I'll find the player or producer. What ever works best is the rule.

Just my opinion!

Respectfully,

Mackie Humphries
Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 12:51 PM



You all have learned English surely a knowledge of Chords is not Rocket Science ??,
Posted By: couchgrouch

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 07:55 PM

knowledge is part of it, talent is most of it. A very large percentage of those who know the English language are very poor creative writers. and many who can play an instrument can't compose. They know the mechanics and can deliver a basic product. But writing memorable prose, dialogue, poetry or lyrics is a different thing. Same with musical composition. Robbie Robertson was arguably the least musically talented member of The Band, Garth Hudson being the most. Robbie was the writer. Garth can't write. Same with Brian Jones of The Stones. Knowledge and talent are related but they're not twins...more like second cousins.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 08:20 PM

Originally Posted by couchgrouch
knowledge is part of it, talent is most of it. A very large percentage of those who know the English language are very poor creative writers. and many who can play an instrument can't compose. They know the mechanics and can deliver a basic product. But writing memorable prose, dialogue, poetry or lyrics is a different thing. Same with musical composition. Robbie Robertson was arguably the least musically talented member of The Band, Garth Hudson being the most. Robbie was the writer. Garth can't write. Same with Brian Jones of The Stones. Knowledge and talent are related but they're not twins...more like second cousins.


Are you serious now, or just trying to flex your muscles?

Rolling Eyes....Let me guess YOUR one of the great creative people...am I warm?

BTW, people who play an instrument very well. and CAN compose, no particular order (And I touched on 1%)

Shakes head....

Chuck Berry
Keith Richards
Pete Townshend
The Beatles
Jimmy Page
Bruce Springsteen
Bob Seeger
BB King
Elvis Costello
Stevie Ray Vaughn
The Edge
Warren Zevon
Brian May
Brian Setzer
Hall and Oates
Merle Haggard
Herbie Hancock
Pat Metheny
Sting
Phil Collins
David Byrne
Eric Clapton
Steve Winwood
Jack White
Jeff Beck
Steve Tyler
David Bowie
Neil Young
David Crosby
Graham Nash
Stephen Stills
Willie Nelson

Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 08:25 PM

BTW, your reason for there being more lyricists, is because there is a much less point of entry to get started writing lyrics.

It takes time to learn an instrument, and play it well enough to compose something.

Lyrics, everybody already writes.
Posted By: couchgrouch

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 09:22 PM

You're back!! JPF must've quit taking the antibiotics a couple of days too early.

Anyone who wants proof of my statement need look no further than FD/Bugsy's lyric and song posts. They're really bad. And what bears deeper study is that his more recent posts as FD are just as bad as his older ones as Mugsy. He never improved, demonstrating talent can't be learned or aquired.

It's no wonder he prefers anonymity. He wears a cyber-bag over his head because he's awful...like the Unknown Comic.

Jeff Beck's a great player...songwriter is different. That's why he needed Stevie Wonder's Superstition. His albums are kinda bad.

Clapton. Pretty much the same. A handful of songs in over 50 years.

Stevie Ray. The same.

Jack White? Lol.

Clapton, Beck and Page illustrate my point. Page is a great composer in addition to being a player. Result? Six classic Led Zep albums.

Keith Richards makes the point about not all players being composers in his 71 interview with Rolling Stone.

Neither Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts or Mick Taylor ever learned to write songs.

Springsteen makes my point as well...the rest of his band can't get knocked up with a song to save themselves, despite mid-wifing Bruce's classics. Southside Johnny, either. Hearts of Stone was forty years ago.

Go home, little man, buy a 3D printer and make yourself a woman.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 09:35 PM

Originally Posted by couchgrouch
You're back!! JPF must've quit taking the antibiotics a couple of days too early.

Anyone who wants proof of my statement need look no further than FD/Bugsy's lyric and song posts. They're really bad. And what bears deeper study is that his more recent posts as FD are just as bad as his older ones as Mugsy. He never improved, demonstrating talent can't be learned or aquired.

It's no wonder he prefers anonymity. He wears a cyber-bag over his head because he's awful...like the Unknown Comic.

Jeff Beck's a great player...songwriter is different. That's why he needed Stevie Wonder's Superstition. His albums are kinda bad.

Clapton. Pretty much the same. A handful of songs in over 50 years.

Stevie Ray. The same.

Jack White? Lol.

Go home, little man, buy a 3D printer and make yourself a woman.


For some reason Im attracted to horse chit, some people are allergic to it

Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 09:44 PM

What planet?

Posted By: couchgrouch

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 09:44 PM

No one cares about my songs? You do. You seem to obsess about them. And me. Sad that.

I'd gladly put Strange Apparitions or Gone with the Ghost of the Sun side by side with anything Clapton's written since Layla. And Layla (the song) was hardly a sole Clapton song. And I believe Jim Gordon stole the piano coda from Rita Coolidge.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 09:49 PM

Originally Posted by couchgrouch
No one cares about my songs? You do. You seem to obsess about them. And me. Sad that.

I'd gladly put Strange Apparitions or Gone with the Ghost of the Sun side by side with anything Clapton's written since Layla. And Layla (the song) was hardly a sole Clapton song. And I believe Jim Gordon stole the piano coda from Rita Coolidge.


Dude, you're not even ignorant, i wont call you that, ill call you delusional. Ill call you "Delouie" from now on

Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 09:52 PM

Lets add more musicians to the list of guys who can play AND write

Billy Joel
Joe Jackson
Don Henley
Joe Walsh
Jackson Browne
Mark Knopfler

oh theres thousands more
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 10:38 PM

Oh Yeah Delouie, i forgot to mention. These "band Members of Springsteen", have all written great albums. They just dont get press, success and goodness are two different things Delouie








Posted By: maccharles

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 11:06 PM

I hear julian's voice, ice clinking in glass "[naughty word removed]'s sakes boys".
Posted By: maccharles

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/01/19 11:14 PM

https://youtu.be/8H9HMxyeOYs
Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/04/19 07:33 AM

Writing lyrics only ?? Great idea as long as you understand what makes a hit song

Repetition or Close Repetition , A study of whats known as The Vowel Triangle

SONG FORMS ---- Rhythm--Setting Up -- Shutting Down---Balance - Pace --

Strong Beats and Weak Beats--- it goes on and on ------------

and one of the best books around for teaching all you need to know ------

MANAGING LYRIC STRUCTURE By Pat Pattison

PERSONALLY I can only write SONGS via a Musical Instrument

That way I know where I'm going with the melody from the verses to the Big Hook

The Marriage Of Melody to Lyrics ??? You can teach yourself that via Studying

the best of whats gone on before

Those who are too lazy to learn any of the above, will go to great lengths to tell us

nonsense about why they know different , and you will find they havent event come

close writing a hit song; and probably never willl

Most rush to let us see or hear their latest efforts writing with a has been writer

could get you close , to a decent song No one is looking for copies of other songs



Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/04/19 06:39 PM

The good news for Country writers is a simple handclap beat on the 2 and 4 is enough to have a hit song with a good vocal and simple guitar. It's all over. I will be posting a link to a video that does a beautiful job of dissecting it all later this week.

Brian
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/13/19 12:21 AM

well there are lyricist who can't play instruments and musicians that can't put three words together,being great at both would be fantastic and it's done every day but everyone can't do it all.I would rather give my lyric to a real musician than me tinker with BIAB trying to put 3 or for Heaven's help 4 chords together.I would rather send a raw vocal track and let the musician take it from there.Bernie Taupin didn't do bad as just a lyricist.
Posted By: Moosesong

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/13/19 02:24 AM

"Rolling Eyes....Let me guess YOUR one of the great creative people...am I warm? "

Actually FD, I would have to say yes, In my opinion Couch is a truly great lyricist. some of the best on these boards and some with lines I find amazingly brilliant.
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/14/19 06:17 PM

what i would like to know is why isn't there an "Instrumental Forum" here so "we" lyricists can maybe write something for them.Some of the musicians may be great until it comes to putting words together.Sure you'll get some lame lyrics as we get lame music for our lyrics but something might jive from time to time.I think i've only taken one maybe two instrumentals here and wrote words for them.Not sure if they really actually liked it but it sure was fun for me to write with an awesome piece of music.So let's average it out and you musicians start putting some work out there for the lyricist.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/14/19 06:40 PM

Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
what i would like to know is why isn't there an "Instrumental Forum" here so "we" lyricists can maybe write something for them.Some of the musicians may be great until it comes to putting words together.Sure you'll get some lame lyrics as we get lame music for our lyrics but something might jive from time to time.I think i've only taken one maybe two instrumentals here and wrote words for them.Not sure if they really actually liked it but it sure was fun for me to write with an awesome piece of music.So let's average it out and you musicians start putting some work out there for the lyricist.



Well I think its a great idea. Thing is "instrumentals" take alot of time and work for the musician.

Also alot of lyricists cant write to tracks, because it restricts them. But if done right this kind of thing leads to better songs for the lyricist.
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 06:51 AM

.
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 07:14 AM

Instrumental board already exists... it's called the MP3 board. Any MP3 format is welcome there. With lyrics or without.

There are far more lyric only folks than Instrumental only. John Schick would be an example of someone who writes music only and posts there.
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 07:23 AM

Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
what i would like to know is why isn't there an "Instrumental Forum" here so "we" lyricists can maybe write something for them. Some of the musicians may be great until it comes to putting words together. Sure you'll get some lame lyrics as we get lame music for our lyrics but something might jive from time to time.I think i've only taken one maybe two instrumentals here and wrote words for them.Not sure if they really actually liked it but it sure was fun for me to write with an awesome piece of music.So let's average it out and you musicians start putting some work out there for the lyricist.


A separate thread's not a bad idea, Mike.

Useful for me would be something in between. For example, I often create melodies for my lyrics (and I send the Audacity file to my collaborators), but it's much easier for me to get into a musical groove if I have a backing track to sing against.

I don't mean a full instrumental complete with melody - just a basic track in various genres/time signatures. It wouldn't be used outside the context of me creating a melody over it. It could even be the track (sans melody) of an already completed song, or simply a track for a song idea that's been abandoned. I'm sure composers have plenty of those, just as we lyricists are likely to have a drawer full of half-finished lyrics and still-waiting hook/title ideas. wink

In times past, it was easy to find 'free-to-download' tracks (intended for musicians to jam with), but those days seem to be gone. Everyone now is trying to sell everything they do. I don't mind that so much ($0.99 now and again won't break the bank) - what I hate is that to even be able to listen to some of the tracks you need to accept cookies on the website, which means even more crap spam landing in my email.

Anyway, this is just a thought. Maybe a section that would include random backing tracks for folks like me. Or, if instrumentals are posted specifically for collaboration, maybe someone would jump in to propose a lyric.

I strongly recommend though that composers seeking collaboration - at the very least - provide lyricists with a leadsheet. This makes it much easier to write a lyric for a melody.

Donna
Posted By: ckiphen

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 01:50 PM

Excellent Idea!
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 01:55 PM

yes,i was thinking of people who are looking for lyrics.Doesn't have to be the finished music,just the bones as to where they want the verses,chorus,bridge maybe,then they can take their music and build around it.The instrumentals on the MP3 board seems to me that that's what they intend it to be,an instrumental.I haven't seen one posted yet asking for lyrics to a certain one.Just a thought.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 02:11 PM

Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
yes,i was thinking of people who are looking for lyrics.Doesn't have to be the finished music,just the bones as to where they want the verses,chorus,bridge maybe,then they can take their music and build around it.The instrumentals on the MP3 board seems to me that that's what they intend it to be,an instrumental.I haven't seen one posted yet asking for lyrics to a certain one.Just a thought.


I think that's the same thing that has been happening here for a long time. Post a lyric, somebody sees it, and adds music.

I thought you were looking the other way around. Somebody posts a track of a song/instrumental they composed, and the lyricist tries to find a lyric for it, sometimes the melody is tapped out, sometimes it's up to the lyricist to find a melody too.

I do this all the time for my own stuff. The overwhelming majority of songwriters say they write the music first, others say they write both at same time. I think writing them both at same time makes it more authentic, but it's open for debate.

But I havent seen many lyricists who can do much with a music track, cause they dont have the freedom of writing across a page and setting their own rhythm to it....
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 02:46 PM

FD, I don't think lyricists generally feel limited, especially if the composer has provided a leadsheet - which in my opinion is essential. I’ve worked both with and without leadsheets, and without is a nightmare. I don’t do it anymore.

Besides, why would the lyricist be looking to create her/his own rhythm if the melody has already been determined by the composer/vocalist? With a leadsheet (and of course the music), she/he can see exactly which and what kind of notes need to be written to. It's then a matter of finding the right words and creating a consistent/coherent lyric that matches the mood of the music. I feel it's unlikely that a lyricist would be required to write the melody. This is more often the task of the vocalist if not the composer.

There’s plenty a lyricist can do with a track, because often the composer already knows the theme/storyline he/she wants but needs the lyric to be written by a wordsmith, or needs someone to polish whatever he/she has already written. I’ve just finished a project like that, and have co-written a lot of lyrics that already had a melody.

There are many kinds of collaboration, all of which need to be discussed and decided upon from the beginning.

As I said in my previous post, I’m not after instrumentals & melodies. I can create my own melodies for my lyrics (though I don’t always do it wink ). I’d simply like a few simple backing tracks in different genres and time signatures to sing against so that I can more quickly get a feel for the melody as I’m singing. A backing track kind of ‘jump starts’ me. smile Even though that particular track won’t be a part of the resulting song.

I don’t agree that music and lyrics need to created at the same time for a song to be authentic. But as you say, it’s open to debate. wink No doubt others here will chime in. wink

Donna
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 03:58 PM

Originally Posted by DonnaMarilyn
FD, I don't think lyricists generally feel limited, especially if the composer has provided a leadsheet - which in my opinion is essential. I’ve worked both with and without leadsheets, and without is a nightmare. I don’t do it anymore.

Besides, why would the lyricist be looking to create her/his own rhythm if the melody has already been determined by the composer/vocalist? With a leadsheet (and of course the music), she/he can see exactly which and what kind of notes need to be written to. It's then a matter of finding the right words and creating a consistent/coherent lyric that matches the mood of the music. I feel it's unlikely that a lyricist would be required to write the melody. This is more often the task of the vocalist if not the composer.

There’s plenty a lyricist can do with a track, because often the composer already knows the theme/storyline he/she wants but needs the lyric to be written by a wordsmith, or needs someone to polish whatever he/she has already written. I’ve just finished a project like that, and have co-written a lot of lyrics that already had a melody.

There are many kinds of collaboration, all of which need to be discussed and decided upon from the beginning.

As I said in my previous post, I’m not after instrumentals & melodies. I can create my own melodies for my lyrics (though I don’t always do it wink ). I’d simply like a few simple backing tracks in different genres and time signatures to sing against so that I can more quickly get a feel for the melody as I’m singing. A backing track kind of ‘jump starts’ me. smile Even though that particular track won’t be a part of the resulting song.

I don’t agree that music and lyrics need to created at the same time for a song to be authentic. But as you say, it’s open to debate. wink No doubt others here will chime in. wink

Donna


Thing is Donna, a "backing track" wont support just any melody. The melody and backing track need to be harmonically right, meaning that the chords need to fit the melody

I think writing to a track, and moreso writing to an already established melody is tuff sledding for a lyricist. It becomes a bit like putting a puzzle together.... "hmm let me see, I need three sylables in this line, because the melody is playing a triplet, so let me go with "make a wish"

What happens is the content of the lyric starts to get weaker and weaker as you search for ways to fill the words in.

Posted By: Ray E. Strode

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 04:18 PM

Well,
I would suggest someone who writes lyrics only hook up with a Co-Writer who can play an instrument. Many times a set of lyrics look good on paper until you start putting them to music. Many, most Producers only want a lyric sheet and a competent demo. They will do the rest if they are going to use the song.
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 05:25 PM

FD, for me, the backing track doesn’t need to support the melody. I just need the groove in the particular genre. The backing track functions as a kind of metronome but a lot more fun. It absolutely works for me. wink I’ve used this method many, many times. Sure, I can come up with a melody just by singing the words over and over in Audacity until I have something that sounds halfway decent to my ears, but it’s much less time consuming with a track to sing over.

I don’t disagree with you about writing lyrics to a melody. It can be tough. That’s why I insist on a leadsheet (and why I rarely write to a melody these days – I prefer the other way around). I’m fine once I have a storyline established; then I focus on the crafting and the choice of words in the usual way.

I agree that often lyrics written to a melody can sound clunky and disjointed, and generally need to be very seriously revised. But they can end up being quite nice. I know a lyricist – and a good one – who, to my astonishment, actually prefers writing to a melody. And her lyrics generally work really well (after a lot of re-writing). I think the key point here is revision.

I find it’s much easier to write to a track that doesn’t yet have a melody, as long as the composer can indicate exactly where the various sections begin and end. I used to enjoy doing those, especially when the music inspired me, and a storyline emerged quickly. (If I didn’t like the music, I declined the request.)
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 07:57 PM

Originally Posted by DonnaMarilyn
FD, for me, the backing track doesn’t need to support the melody. I just need the groove in the particular genre. The backing track functions as a kind of metronome but a lot more fun. It absolutely works for me. wink I’ve used this method many, many times. Sure, I can come up with a melody just by singing the words over and over in Audacity until I have something that sounds halfway decent to my ears, but it’s much less time consuming with a track to sing over.

I don’t disagree with you about writing lyrics to a melody. It can be tough. That’s why I insist on a leadsheet (and why I rarely write to a melody these days – I prefer the other way around). I’m fine once I have a storyline established; then I focus on the crafting and the choice of words in the usual way.

I agree that often lyrics written to a melody can sound clunky and disjointed, and generally need to be very seriously revised. But they can end up being quite nice. I know a lyricist – and a good one – who, to my astonishment, actually prefers writing to a melody. And her lyrics generally work really well (after a lot of re-writing). I think the key point here is revision.

I find it’s much easier to write to a track that doesn’t yet have a melody, as long as the composer can indicate exactly where the various sections begin and end. I used to enjoy doing those, especially when the music inspired me, and a storyline emerged quickly. (If I didn’t like the music, I declined the request.)


A drum machine or sampled beats might work better. As long as you come up with a melody that works i guess all is well.
Posted By: JaneK

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 08:27 PM

What I do first is make tracks of the melody with chords or sometimes just an improvised melody line with a drum track etc. without vocals or lyrics. Then I try to find prewritten lyrical ideas to go with the instrumental. For me,the lyrics never work with the ideas I have in my head of the melody, arrangement etc.

I have tons and tons of drum tracks with just a piano and synth, sometimes without a structured melody line. Most of the time the melody is built around a drum track and then sits there waiting to be finished. Sometimes I just play a piece without any drums or beats to it with a piano sound.. It usually gets saved to my DAW and sits there until I muster up some more lyrics. Don't like that part. My musical ideas far outweigh my ability to write lyrics. Then I end up putting a not so good lyric to music that would be far more interesting with a better lyric. That's a big problem for us "one man band" creators.

So I guess one can put their instrumentals (finished or unfinished) up on the forum for anybody that needs help making their lyrics come to life. That's a thought!

I admire people that can effortlessly write tons of lyrics. I have a hard time finding something interesting to say.

Jane
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 08:56 PM

Jane, I admire your musical and vocal talent.

However, I don't know a single lyricist who can write tons of lyrics - good ones - effortlessly. smile Sure, getting a basic idea down can be relatively easy, but afterwards the draft invariably needs a LOT of revision. This can take a great deal of time and effort. 'The art of writing is in the re-writing'.

And it's not so much about having something interesting to say. There are plenty of interesting things to write about. The hard part is saying them in an interesting and skilful manner. wink

Perhaps you could think about asking a lyricist to co-write/revise your own drafts. Or post your lyrics for feedback. You could mention that they already have a melody, and any adjustments would need to be made within those parameters.

Donna
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 10:44 PM

just for kicks,this is the instrumental by Joe Rogier i found on the MP3 board and set lyrics to it.It was only a one take thing,we didn't venture in rewriting or anything,i just wanted to put some lyrics to a piece of music that struck me.Of course a vocalist is needed but that's the drift i'm getting at with this idea.Who knows what it would have sounded like if we took it to other levels. https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13191336
Posted By: JaneK

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/15/19 10:52 PM

Donna,

I know it takes a lot of skill to write good lyrics. I didn't mean there isn't a lot of effort put in to it (poor choice of words on my part). When the lyrics work, it looks easy to folks but it is not.

Good lyricists like yourself who can take words and make a wonderful story out of them - I think the real skill of writing lyrics is in the "making it interesting part" and the rewriting and rewriting to make it just right - wow the patience involved.

It takes a good vocabulary and a total devotion to the art and I admire someone with that talent.

Jane
Posted By: DonnaMarilyn

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/16/19 08:19 AM

Michael, that turned out really well. The lyrics are simple and straightforward. Lovely music & melody from Joe too. I can understand you feeling drawn to the piece.

(I seem to recall being in contact with Joe several years ago over a possible collaboration. I forget though whether anything resulted. And I lost a lot of music in a computer crash. emo ) )

I remember four or five years ago hearing someone's instrumental track somewhere, and feeling immediately inspired. The words almost began writing themselves while I was listening. I contacted the composer soon after to ask if he'd be up for a collaboration, but - unfortunately for me - someone else had got there first. Sometimes you gotta be quick. wink

Jane, you're right on all counts. smile
Re-writing, patience, a good vocabulary, devotion to the art.

Add to those a good thesaurus (like the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus), a good dictionary (to build up that vocabulary wink ), a good rhyming dictionary (like The Complete Rhyming Dictionary edited by Clement Wood; online ones are useful too, like RhymeZone, RhymeGenie, or others), and access to books on lyric writing (e.g. Sheila Davis, Rikky Rooksby, Bill Pere, Pat Pattison) or online instruction (e.g. Pat Pattison, Ralph Murphy, and others).

Most important though I think is to know one's own strengths and to focus on those.

For instance, as much as I'd love to be able to play an instrument (and believe me, I've made serious attempts on both guitar and keyboard over the years), it simply is not going to happen. And life at this point is too short for me to learn DAWs or BIAB or GarageBand or what have you. My active creative interests (other than writing lyrics) lie in art and photography.

Where songwriting is concerned, my gift - if you can call it that - is Words. Yours - in abundance - is Music & Vocals.

If words are a problem for you, I strongly recommend you consider turning your drafts (which will already have a melody) over to a lyricist co-writer. smile She/he will apply her/his skills to contribute to yours. smile

End of monologue. laugh
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/16/19 08:30 AM

Originally Posted by DonnaMarilyn
Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
what i would like to know is why isn't there an "Instrumental Forum" here so "we" lyricists can maybe write something for them. Some of the musicians may be great until it comes to putting words together. Sure you'll get some lame lyrics as we get lame music for our lyrics but something might jive from time to time.I think i've only taken one maybe two instrumentals here and wrote words for them.Not sure if they really actually liked it but it sure was fun for me to write with an awesome piece of music.So let's average it out and you musicians start putting some work out there for the lyricist.


A separate thread's not a bad idea, Mike.

Useful for me would be something in between. For example, I often create melodies for my lyrics (and I send the Audacity file to my collaborators), but it's much easier for me to get into a musical groove if I have a backing track to sing against.

I don't mean a full instrumental complete with melody - just a basic track in various genres/time signatures. It wouldn't be used outside the context of me creating a melody over it. It could even be the track (sans melody) of an already completed song, or simply a track for a song idea that's been abandoned. I'm sure composers have plenty of those, just as we lyricists are likely to have a drawer full of half-finished lyrics and still-waiting hook/title ideas. wink

In times past, it was easy to find 'free-to-download' tracks (intended for musicians to jam with), but those days seem to be gone. Everyone now is trying to sell everything they do. I don't mind that so much ($0.99 now and again won't break the bank) - what I hate is that to even be able to listen to some of the tracks you need to accept cookies on the website, which means even more crap spam landing in my email.

Anyway, this is just a thought. Maybe a section that would include random backing tracks for folks like me. Or, if instrumentals are posted specifically for collaboration, maybe someone would jump in to propose a lyric.

I strongly recommend though that composers seeking collaboration - at the very least - provide lyricists with a leadsheet. This makes it much easier to write a lyric for a melody.

Donna


Donna,

Just to let you know, a cookie itself doesn't lift your email, it gets something far more valuable. It tracks every site you have ever been to before and after when you have a cookie. It tracks what you type, it tracks what you click, it tracks just about everything you do after it is in there but it also goes back in time by lifting your various histories. It is permission essentially to spy on you. But.. and this is big, it takes a massive tech company to put that much into their apps and cookies etc. We have cookies here and it only does a couple of things: It saves your progress on this specific site so that when you revisit a post, it goes to where you left off etc. and it can remember who you are so you only have to log in one time per year. I have zero access to any info on you of any kind. I can see globally where ALL visitors come from and where all visitor go when they leave. But I almost never look at it because I am not selling anything. But most companies ARE so you are right to be cautious. Sadly all of us have knowingly or unknowingly given so many companies carte blanche to spy on us that outside of leaving online for good, they will always know just about everything there is to know about you. These companies know what food you eat because they buy your shopping info from the grocery stores and the credit card companies. This is why they so desperately want to get rid of ALL cash so you can't hide a single activity you participate in. They have you 10 different ways.

It sucks and it is getting dangerous. These companies have far more power than our governments. That is not hyperbole. I can see the day where the US military takes over these companies.. but that is only if they aren't behind all of them in the first place. All the ones up and running well were started with government money. So the deep state has it all. The NSA The military equivalent to the C_A has it all on EVERYONE.
Posted By: adf

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/18/19 02:56 PM

For me, there's always music in my mind when I write a lyric. I used to have a studio set-up where I could easily work on music and lyrics simultaneously, but that's all changed now. So, it's lyrics only for me.

Andy
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/18/19 03:38 PM

Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
what i would like to know is why isn't there an "Instrumental Forum" here so "we" lyricists can maybe write something for them.Some of the musicians may be great until it comes to putting words together.Sure you'll get some lame lyrics as we get lame music for our lyrics but something might jive from time to time.I think i've only taken one maybe two instrumentals here and wrote words for them.Not sure if they really actually liked it but it sure was fun for me to write with an awesome piece of music.So let's average it out and you musicians start putting some work out there for the lyricist.



Well I think its a great idea. Thing is "instrumentals" take alot of time and work for the musician.

Also alot of lyricists cant write to tracks, because it restricts them. But if done right this kind of thing leads to better songs for the lyricist.


In the industry today "Topliners" are in demand. A Topliner is someone who takes a finished instrumental track and creates what the singer sings—lyrics and melody (and harmonies). Since music has gone digital, "producers" are now usually people who make "beats" (instrumental tracks). Topliners commonly come later, often hired like session musicians to create a topline for a fee and walk away, or share the copyright. It's an interesting development in an industry that still considers a song to be lyrics and melody.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/18/19 04:00 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
what i would like to know is why isn't there an "Instrumental Forum" here so "we" lyricists can maybe write something for them.Some of the musicians may be great until it comes to putting words together.Sure you'll get some lame lyrics as we get lame music for our lyrics but something might jive from time to time.I think i've only taken one maybe two instrumentals here and wrote words for them.Not sure if they really actually liked it but it sure was fun for me to write with an awesome piece of music.So let's average it out and you musicians start putting some work out there for the lyricist.



Well I think its a great idea. Thing is "instrumentals" take alot of time and work for the musician.

Also alot of lyricists cant write to tracks, because it restricts them. But if done right this kind of thing leads to better songs for the lyricist.


In the industry today "Topliners" are in demand. A Topliner is someone who takes a finished instrumental track and creates what the singer sings—lyrics and melody (and harmonies). Since music has gone digital, "producers" are now usually people who make "beats" (instrumental tracks). Topliners commonly come later, often hired like session musicians to create a topline for a fee and walk away, or share the copyright. It's an interesting development in an industry that still considers a song to be lyrics and melody.


Yeah now with tracks and beats being so important, writing to a track is probably more important than it used to be but alot of great writers used to work with tracks anyway like Paul Simon for example. Hed write a track and not even know what the song would be called or about.

I always wondered when writing a track without any idea of a melody, how somebody can compose a track and have it work later on. To me melody determines where the music goes, particularly with hooks and choruses. When you write a track, how do you know what you have really? Its a bit of a crap shoot but can work better since the music has already been established and you got a song and a groove.
Posted By: Gavin Sinclair

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/18/19 05:09 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
what i would like to know is why isn't there an "Instrumental Forum" here so "we" lyricists can maybe write something for them.Some of the musicians may be great until it comes to putting words together.Sure you'll get some lame lyrics as we get lame music for our lyrics but something might jive from time to time.I think i've only taken one maybe two instrumentals here and wrote words for them.Not sure if they really actually liked it but it sure was fun for me to write with an awesome piece of music.So let's average it out and you musicians start putting some work out there for the lyricist.



Well I think its a great idea. Thing is "instrumentals" take alot of time and work for the musician.

Also alot of lyricists cant write to tracks, because it restricts them. But if done right this kind of thing leads to better songs for the lyricist.


In the industry today "Topliners" are in demand. A Topliner is someone who takes a finished instrumental track and creates what the singer sings—lyrics and melody (and harmonies). Since music has gone digital, "producers" are now usually people who make "beats" (instrumental tracks). Topliners commonly come later, often hired like session musicians to create a topline for a fee and walk away, or share the copyright. It's an interesting development in an industry that still considers a song to be lyrics and melody.


I read about how some topliners just turn up, go into a booth and sing over the track whatever comes into their head, just random stuff, until eventually they hit on something that the producer thinks is catchy or striking. That becomes the hook. The rest is just filler that nobody pays any attention to anyway.
Posted By: adf

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/18/19 05:26 PM

To me, that makes sense. After all, it's the end sound that makes the song. The way everything gels together. Like sketching out a painting, then filling in the colour.
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/18/19 10:16 PM

well i like that Topliner stuff Mark.I'd like to be on top of that.
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/18/19 10:18 PM

Also,i would try to write more than one lyric for each instrumental and give the other person choices.
Posted By: Ted Martin

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/19 05:57 AM

When I first started writing songs I thought music could be shaped and molded any way you wanted. Turns out that music has strict rules and is very unforgiving and your lyrics, no matter how you sing them, have to fit into that little box where the music lives and obey the rules. I learned this sitting down with a friend who lived in Laurel Canyon in the sixties and was sitting at the table with Canned Heat when they signed their first recording contract. He looked at me and said, "The problem with your song is you've got too many words. Go ahead and sing what you've got there...hold it, wait! I just ran out of music and you're still singing". I changed the wording of the song and he said "Now that will work". My friend, well he said every time he thought his ship was going to come in, it sank.
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/19 05:24 PM

Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
[
Yeah now with tracks and beats being so important, writing to a track is probably more important than it used to be but alot of great writers used to work with tracks anyway like Paul Simon for example. Hed write a track and not even know what the song would be called or about.

I always wondered when writing a track without any idea of a melody, how somebody can compose a track and have it work later on. To me melody determines where the music goes, particularly with hooks and choruses. When you write a track, how do you know what you have really? Its a bit of a crap shoot but can work better since the music has already been established and you got a song and a groove.


I do it sometimes. David Bowie did it often—his sessions usually involved getting musicians together to create music, and it was only after the full musical track was finished that he would go off and topline it, then come back some other day, sometimes months later to record vocals.

Melody is an element of a song to me, usually but not always the dominant one. Coming from a rock background, I find chord structure probably leads my thinking even more than melody.
Posted By: couchgrouch

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/19/19 06:47 PM

Regarding Sheila Davis, Pat Pattison etc...I've said it before.
If those people knew how to write great songs, they would. They know how to write books about great songs.

I've also said this before, show me an example of someone's writing before having read Pattison's book, then an example of their writing a year later. There won't be much
of a difference. I recall a bitter exchange with a woman over this issue many years ago. She still can't write.

And neither can you, FD!

Just thought I'd throw that in there.

My words are controversial! They imply not everyone has talent. Let the Senate hearings begin!
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/19 02:18 PM

Originally Posted by couchgrouch
Regarding Sheila Davis, Pat Pattison etc...I've said it before.
If those people knew how to write great songs, they would. They know how to write books about great songs.

I've also said this before, show me an example of someone's writing before having read Pattison's book, then an example of their writing a year later. There won't be much
of a difference. I recall a bitter exchange with a woman over this issue many years ago. She still can't write.

And neither can you, FD!

Just thought I'd throw that in there.

My words are controversial! They imply not everyone has talent. Let the Senate hearings begin!


Upset are we that you are incapable of writing to a track? Still chasing me around JPF?

I dont think any intelligent human believes that Sheila Davis can make them a great songwriter, or reading her book can. No more than a guitar teacher can make his student Eddie Van Halen, no more than a hitting coach can make somebody Mickey Mantle.

Of course talent matters..... Sheila Davis is just an educator, I bet if you asked her, she wouldn't even consider herself a great songwriter. She taught at UCLA i believe, and just as a spelling teacher cant make somebody win a national spelling bee, a songwriting teacher cant make them a hit songwriter.

It's just a way of helping bring out the talent somebody might have. Sometimes a person needs focus or guidance, maybe they have great capability and dont know how to tap into it. Whats the big frickon deal about a damn book?

And you say people cant write, including myself, to some of the greats of our era, so often, that it means absolutely nothing to anyone. You're like the Delouie who cried wolf, nobody cares who you think you can write.

You insist that music is a competition and want it known that you are the leading contender.

If u want to make it a competition, id be happy to kick your arse in a challenge of writing to a track. Remember the goal is the song, not your lyric on paper.

it'l never happen, you are not able. Keep chirpin
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/20/19 02:23 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
[
Yeah now with tracks and beats being so important, writing to a track is probably more important than it used to be but alot of great writers used to work with tracks anyway like Paul Simon for example. Hed write a track and not even know what the song would be called or about.

I always wondered when writing a track without any idea of a melody, how somebody can compose a track and have it work later on. To me melody determines where the music goes, particularly with hooks and choruses. When you write a track, how do you know what you have really? Its a bit of a crap shoot but can work better since the music has already been established and you got a song and a groove.


I do it sometimes. David Bowie did it often—his sessions usually involved getting musicians together to create music, and it was only after the full musical track was finished that he would go off and topline it, then come back some other day, sometimes months later to record vocals.

Melody is an element of a song to me, usually but not always the dominant one. Coming from a rock background, I find chord structure probably leads my thinking even more than melody.



Here is a song I know for a fact was written as a track first. One of The Boss' few collabs at all, let alone writes from a track. But if you listen you can see or hear the track came first. Interestingly, no chorus it's AABA
, I find alot of track first pieces dont have choruses, or at least big choruses. Roy Bittan came up with the track first.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPw8wNrINJ0
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/23/19 01:11 AM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
Originally Posted by Michael LeBlanc
what i would like to know is why isn't there an "Instrumental Forum" here so "we" lyricists can maybe write something for them.Some of the musicians may be great until it comes to putting words together.Sure you'll get some lame lyrics as we get lame music for our lyrics but something might jive from time to time.I think i've only taken one maybe two instrumentals here and wrote words for them.Not sure if they really actually liked it but it sure was fun for me to write with an awesome piece of music.So let's average it out and you musicians start putting some work out there for the lyricist.



Well I think its a great idea. Thing is "instrumentals" take alot of time and work for the musician.

Also alot of lyricists cant write to tracks, because it restricts them. But if done right this kind of thing leads to better songs for the lyricist.


In the industry today "Topliners" are in demand. A Topliner is someone who takes a finished instrumental track and creates what the singer sings—lyrics and melody (and harmonies). Since music has gone digital, "producers" are now usually people who make "beats" (instrumental tracks). Topliners commonly come later, often hired like session musicians to create a topline for a fee and walk away, or share the copyright. It's an interesting development in an industry that still considers a song to be lyrics and melody.


Yes, the entire industry now belongs to the Producers. They have their hands in all aspects far beyond what they used to do. It started in Rap and R&B but has devolved across all platforms/genres/styles. If it commercial, it is all about producers. Sometimes the producers are the artists themselves, but the power players are all "producers" because they have their hands in all the income streams. Often the producers have stables of artists which they interchange and this is why we often see 10 names on a songwriting credit. That is lifelong income streams for those people. They trade those credits to gain more power. It is very smart business but it sucks for actual writers and especially for artist/writers who usually get stuck sharing the wealth with a record number of people. Production credits share in the writing royalties, the arrangement royalties and the recorded music royalties and in most cases the merchandising royalties as well as TV/Radio/Media royalties. 360 deals look great on paper to artists, but all you do is become the subservient party to all the others stacking up on top of your talent. It is selling your soul to the devil made flesh and blood. Writing lyrics to a finished track is VERY common, by far the most common, way to make music. If the track doesn't grab the listener, the lyrics mean nothing. If the track DOES grab the listener, the lyrics might get noticed and if they are clever or meaningful, they might enhance the love of a song, but rarely do songs have staying power beyond their initial run anymore. Country music has become as boring as emo with simplistic beats stolen from R&B ballads backing nearly everything today. It's a drone, but it sells well. That is all that matters (or has ever mattered). People who think technology is always a good thing and we should always "improve" the process, streamline it, make it more efficient and that always means better are not people who value art, aesthetic or human connection. They simply approach things with the efficiency model of an automated widget factory. Cold, sterile, efficient. That used to be business, now it is art as well.
Posted By: Ted Martin

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/23/19 06:07 AM

From a Rolling Stone interview with Billy Joel: "I hear a melody and a rhythm first. One of the last things that I actually get are the words."
Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/23/19 01:19 PM

Spot on JIM i agree with every linel
Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/23/19 01:27 PM

I dont think any intelligent human believes that Sheila Davis can make them a great songwriter, or reading her book can. No more than a guitar teacher can make his student Eddie Van Halen, no more than a hitting coach can make somebody Mickey Mantle.

Of course talent matters..... Sheila Davis is just an educator, I bet if you asked her, she wouldn't even consider herself a great songwriter. She taught at UCLA i believe, and just as a spelling teacher cant make somebody win a national spelling bee, a songwriting teacher cant make them a hit songwriter.

It's just a way of helping bring out the talent somebody might have. Sometimes a person needs focus or guidance, maybe they have great capability and dont know how to tap into it. Whats the big frickon deal about a damn book?
________________________________________________________________________
This reply by f demetrio ways it all up for me he is absolutely right--- we can learn from the best books, and anyone who thinks not , is so wrapped up in their own world its beyond belief; What Sheila does is explain the many formats of writing and she also breaks down why certain songs work - If you cant sing your words , and understand where the melody needs to rise of fall ; no collaborator worth his or her sort would even attempt to put the best music they can to it , collaboration should take part at the birth of any song . There are not many top lyric writers who are not prepared to re write; That's why they are successful

Posted By: couchgrouch

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/23/19 03:17 PM

Cheyenne, I agree with everything you just said. Those books are no big deal.

I would go one step further...if you don't have talent, those books can't help you. If you do, you don't need them.

I also think there can be a difference between a hit song and a great one. Taylor Swift's new one is an insipid piece of woke robopop. I've heard better songs on Josie and the Pussycats.
Posted By: Brian Austin Whitney

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/24/19 12:30 AM

Originally Posted by couchgrouch
Cheyenne, I agree with everything you just said. Those books are no big deal.

I would go one step further...if you don't have talent, those books can't help you. If you do, you don't need them.

I also think there can be a difference between a hit song and a great one. Taylor Swift's new one is an insipid piece of woke robopop. I've heard better songs on Josie and the Pussycats.


Though books like that may mostly be for hobbyists to dabble in to improve their work, I do actually know of pro's who used that book and others and it made impacts on them. One of them has written country hits and won a Tony award as well. So they are not invaluable. It is just like my exercise equipment/diet cook book example on another post. They WORK if you actually use them as directed, but very very few do.

Brian
Posted By: couchgrouch

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/24/19 01:31 AM

I'd be curious to know what he/she learned, how it changed their writing and what they've written. Till then, I remain skeptical. Diets and exercise yield tangible results. Art doesn't.

There must be pro endorsements on the book jackets. Check em out. If you research their songs and go, whoa...that guy's songs have great melodies and the lyrics have memorable titles, imagery, rhymes and storytelling, then buy the book.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/24/19 07:51 PM

Originally Posted by couchgrouch
I'd be curious to know what he/she learned, how it changed their writing and what they've written. Till then, I remain skeptical. Diets and exercise yield tangible results. Art doesn't.

There must be pro endorsements on the book jackets. Check em out. If you research their songs and go, whoa...that guy's songs have great melodies and the lyrics have memorable titles, imagery, rhymes and storytelling, then buy the book.


But no matter how good you might think you are, many might not think you are any good. THAT'S art. Nobody knows what good or bad is. So judging whether or not a book can help an artist, is as subjective as the art they make.

I do know that Sheila Davis is well respected by "songwriters" maybe not artists, but people who want to learn the craft. Everybody learns from something. No Beatles, id say most rock or pop songwriters have no career.

Much like school, there is theory and then theres real life. I think she focuses on Theory. If you can learn what makes a great song, maybe you can write one yourself. How do you hit a target if you dont know what the target is? Nobody is born a great songwriter. Most people learn from the music they listen to. All shes doing is organizing it for somebody.

As for endorsements. It wouldnt be so obvious....THIS BOOK MADE ME A GREAT WRITER. But it may just be one extra piece in somebodys artistry.

Does a songwriter need this book? No, can it help with their knowledge of songwriting. Yes.

"...to young lyricists who come to me for advice: Buy THE CRAFT OF LYRIC WRITING. It's all there." -- Sheldon Harnick, Pulitzer Prize Lyricist, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF



Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/24/19 11:02 PM

I thought this was a good article. He mentioned how the Beatles went from Love Love me Do, to Strawberry Fields. I always said that if something improves, something caused it to improve, usually by keep doing it. Talent or lack of can slow you down or speed you up.

https://joebennett.net/2013/05/31/you-cant-teach-songwriting-from-total-guitar-magazine/
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/28/19 03:16 PM

Some people believe so strongly in the concept of natural talent that they cannot fully accept the concept of coaching, or that they could ever learn from what they perceive as a lesser talent. It appears to them to diminish the quality of their own talent, so they view it through a competitive lens. But no one makes art without training. No one plays a guitar without slogging through an old Mel Bay book or teaching yourself how to make that triangle shape with your fingers, and no one writes lyrics without studying other writers and piggybacking on their shoulders. I was a bad bowler who learned how to coach and taught several high schoolers how to kick my ass. I don;t think you don't have to be accomplished to understand the process...and you don't have to be a lesser writer to learn from another one.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/28/19 03:29 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Some people believe so strongly in the concept of natural talent that they cannot fully accept the concept of coaching, or that they could ever learn from what they perceive as a lesser talent. It appears to them to diminish the quality of their own talent, so they view it through a competitive lens. But no one makes art without training. No one plays a guitar without slogging through an old Mel Bay book or teaching yourself how to make that triangle shape with your fingers, and no one writes lyrics without studying other writers and piggybacking on their shoulders. I was a bad bowler who learned how to coach and taught several high schoolers how to kick my ass. I don;t think you don't have to be accomplished to understand the process...and you don't have to be a lesser writer to learn from another one.


Nailed it!

Particularly when said people's work demonstrates a thorough knowledge of craft, ie. meter, poetic device, hooks and even double hooks, a knowledge of story boarding and twists and irony, and imagery and rhyme and structure, and payoffs. And shows years of working on the mechanics.

Funny how some people never learned anything about songwriting, and nobody who teaches knows anything.
Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/30/19 01:43 PM

Talent cant be taught, and those Lyrical / Poets, just go their own way

telling the world everyone else knows nothing -- they hold their

selves in such high esteem its laughable, wasting Good Money on

expensive DEMOS of unfinished ideas , wont improve a poor song -


learn the guide lines before you break them ,?? But understand formats,

and study the best writers ;

Attend seminars and listen to all the honest critiques of their own work


The Truth is real writers know when they have something worth

pitching, they dont needs pats on the back from people who quite frankly dont

understand why the best songs work

Writing a few songs for a bunch of friends seems , to be a waste of time to me

And dare one critique where it could be improved they come out with childish remarks

as to, why they think you are wrong its laughable

Most have learned to speak English playing a guitar is a lot easier buy one and build up a

knowledge of chords from simple triads to four note chords , Otherwise its like

trying to put flesh on an ugly skeleton


Posted By: Kristi McKeever

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 06/30/19 05:51 PM

Writing songs for “a bunch of friends” or someone in particular may be the best kinds of songs as they’re likely full of authentic emotion; something that is often missing from the most famous, well-produced “masterpieces” that the industry tries to drill into our subconscious.

No time is wasted if someone is genuinely moved by a song, "warts and all". What could be more important?

I also think it doesn’t matter whether lyrics or music come first or at the same time, etc. There’s more than one way to write a song. Those with intuition/talent/awareness can write something that others hear words in or music in the words, and make a connection; ultimately creating a moving song. Sometimes that involves more than one person.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/19 03:34 PM

Originally Posted by Kristi McKeever
Writing songs for “a bunch of friends” or someone in particular may be the best kinds of songs as they’re likely full of authentic emotion; something that is often missing from the most famous, well-produced “masterpieces” that the industry tries to drill into our subconscious.

No time is wasted if someone is genuinely moved by a song, "warts and all". What could be more important?

I also think it doesn’t matter whether lyrics or music come first or at the same time, etc. There’s more than one way to write a song. Those with intuition/talent/awareness can write something that others hear words in or music in the words, and make a connection; ultimately creating a moving song. Sometimes that involves more than one person.


I think it generally doesnt matter what came first words or music, but the results might be better when melody comes first. Bernie Taupin used to write his lyrics, but people dont realize he was a musician, a singer, who put out his own albums. Helps a great deal for a lyricist to understand music. It's not just a matter of meter either.

I agree with you, how many times do you hear a song from some "up and coming" artist, band, whatever, who just write something that for no other reason, you like it. Might not be able to say why you like it, it may be very raw lyrically or simple musically but it moves you.

That's what I like about music, it's different than baseball or football where the numbers dont lie. Then again, in baseball your favorite player, might not be the best player ever, or even the best player on the team, you just like how he plays. Maybe he hustles, and is a great teammate, or plays like a professional at all times.

But yeah...
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/19 03:57 PM

Bernie Taupin is to lyricists what the Beatles were to musicians and songwriters—he lived the Dream. He really wasn't that musical, not at first, not when he penned most of their best songs in the 60s and 70s. He just wrote "poems" that could be songs, maybe. This is from his recent interview in Time:



...the pair did not meet organically: In 1967, they both answered the same advertisement from Liberty Records seeking songwriters. John couldn’t write lyrics; Taupin couldn’t write melodies. But when John was handed an envelope of Taupin’s poems, he was moved by their lyricism and began cutting demos to them. The pair soon met and developed a close relationship that Taupin called a “non-sexual love affair.”

“When we started it out it was really just me and him,” Taupin said. They slept in bunk-beds in John’s mother’s flat and were often broke; Taupin would write lyrics in a back bedroom while John fit his words to melodies in front of an upright piano. “It was very much a sort of stream-of-consciousness,” Taupin said of his own lyrical style. “I would write whatever I felt, and he would jerry-rig it into a song.”

Many soon-to-be classics were written in that space. A scene from Rocketman shows Taupin handing John (played by Taron Egerton) some lyrics and then going upstairs to brush his teeth. By the time he has rinsed and returned, John has formed the indelible melody of “Your Song,” which would be the pair’s first breakout hit in the United States. “It’s pretty much how it happened,” Taupin said of the scene. “I did write the lyric to ‘Your Song’ over the breakfast table—and I remember there was a coffee mug stain on the lyric.” Taupin does point out a couple small discrepancies, including the fact that John’s mother and grandmother weren’t actually there, as well as the size of the apartment: “There wasn’t an upstairs. It was a one-level apartment, and very small, too.”
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/01/19 04:03 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
Bernie Taupin is to lyricists what the Beatles were to musicians and songwriters—he lived the Dream. He really wasn't that musical, not at first, not when he penned most of their best songs in the 60s and 70s. He just wrote "poems" that could be songs, maybe. This is from his recent interview in Time:



...the pair did not meet organically: In 1967, they both answered the same advertisement from Liberty Records seeking songwriters. John couldn’t write lyrics; Taupin couldn’t write melodies. But when John was handed an envelope of Taupin’s poems, he was moved by their lyricism and began cutting demos to them. The pair soon met and developed a close relationship that Taupin called a “non-sexual love affair.”

“When we started it out it was really just me and him,” Taupin said. They slept in bunk-beds in John’s mother’s flat and were often broke; Taupin would write lyrics in a back bedroom while John fit his words to melodies in front of an upright piano. “It was very much a sort of stream-of-consciousness,” Taupin said of his own lyrical style. “I would write whatever I felt, and he would jerry-rig it into a song.”

Many soon-to-be classics were written in that space. A scene from Rocketman shows Taupin handing John (played by Taron Egerton) some lyrics and then going upstairs to brush his teeth. By the time he has rinsed and returned, John has formed the indelible melody of “Your Song,” which would be the pair’s first breakout hit in the United States. “It’s pretty much how it happened,” Taupin said of the scene. “I did write the lyric to ‘Your Song’ over the breakfast table—and I remember there was a coffee mug stain on the lyric.” Taupin does point out a couple small discrepancies, including the fact that John’s mother and grandmother weren’t actually there, as well as the size of the apartment: “There wasn’t an upstairs. It was a one-level apartment, and very small, too.”


Cool piece, I read the Elton had a crush on him but he wanted no part of Elton that way lol.

Well if not musical, certainly he had a knack for writing poetry that could be pop hits.

"Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean...those are the sweetest eyes, I've ever seen" Most lyricists dont write lines like that. Conversational and really only become alive when sung.

Bernie just had it.
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/19 04:05 PM

I honestly think Bernie is just one lucky old hippie poet with a knack for cool, vivid phrases, scenes and imagery. Undiscovered, his lyrics would fill these boards and occasionally get picked up by a composer—but they wouldn't be considered the great songs they are, not at all, no way, nope. A great lyric without music is usually just an okay poem. Elton could take anything, if it grabbed him, and find a way to make it fit in an incredibly unique fashion. I'll bet he really knew how to pack anything into a suitcase. The heavy lifting is all in the compositions, nearly every time. I don't believe Bernie ever had any idea how it would all turn out musically, he just had to creatively express himself freely and basically without rules, then wait for the wizard to animate them majestically. Just imagine some of those lyrics without the music. They would absolutely baffle most composers, but Elton is a stone genius that way. Never more than about 20 minutes, and he finds it—every time! Otherwise he gets bored and gives up.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/19 06:29 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
I honestly think Bernie is just one lucky old hippie poet with a knack for cool, vivid phrases, scenes and imagery. Undiscovered, his lyrics would fill these boards and occasionally get picked up by a composer—but they wouldn't be considered the great songs they are, not at all, no way, nope. A great lyric without music is usually just an okay poem. Elton could take anything, if it grabbed him, and find a way to make it fit in an incredibly unique fashion. I'll bet he really knew how to pack anything into a suitcase. The heavy lifting is all in the compositions, nearly every time. I don't believe Bernie ever had any idea how it would all turn out musically, he just had to creatively express himself freely and basically without rules, then wait for the wizard to animate them majestically. Just imagine some of those lyrics without the music. They would absolutely baffle most composers, but Elton is a stone genius that way. Never more than about 20 minutes, and he finds it—every time! Otherwise he gets bored and gives up.


I agree Elton made the songs classics and made them so tasteful and entertaining, most of the time it is the music anyway! I think some of the sentiments Bernie came up with though kind of cut through our world.

For some reason his poems made for good pop songs, mostly because they said alot, with a little.

Its funny how Elton never wrote with anyone else, Bernie has. I thought his lyric for Hearts These Dreams was particularly special. Look how much information he crams into tiny spaces, short lines....

These Dreams
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41P8UxneDJE

Spare a little candle
Save some light for me
Figures up ahead
Moving in the trees
White skin in linen
Perfume on my wrist
And the full moon that hangs over
These dreams in the mist

Darkness on the edge
Shadows where I stand
I search for the time
On a watch with no hands
I want to see you clearly
Come closer than this
But all I remember
Are the dreams in the mist

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside
Every moment I'm awake the further I'm away

Is it cloak n dagger
Could it be spring or fall
I walk without a cut
Through a stained glass wall
Weaker in my eyesight
The candle in my grip
And words that have no form
Are falling from my lips

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside
Every moment I'm awake the further I'm away

There's something out there
I can't resist
I need to hide away from the pain
There's something out there
I can't resist

The sweetest song is silence
That I've ever heard
Funny how your feet
In dreams never touch the earth
In a wood full of princes
Freedom is a kiss
But the prince hides his face
From dreams in the mist

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside
Every moment I'm awake the further I'm away
These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside
Every moment I'm awake the further I'm away





Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/02/19 06:52 PM

This reminds me, I gotta go see Rocket Man
Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 10:19 AM

SEE BELOW SOMETHING WENT WRONG WITH MY DESK TOP
Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 10:30 AM

Back then the story was Elton, placed an add in a small

local UK news paper and Bernie answered it

I would think that Elton would play around with the lyrics

to get them to work with his melodies, Elton also stated in

a documentary that his melodies came very quickly, as soon as

he saw Bernies Lyrics, but I am sure Elton would repeat or

ask for re writes on certain lines

I also, think Bernie had more ideas about

popular song format that we give him credit for, and I am certain

a few phone calls between the two during the songs evolution

would have been the normal procedure

ELTON JOHN also wrote hit songs with TIM RICE

Who collaborated for the music to The Lion King


Eltons Father was an old school R A F officer and he did nothing to

encourage his musical career ,

You probably know that Elton's first gigs were him backing American Singers

who did major tours of the U K , he only had to hear a song once , and he was

able to play it , he started playing the piano when he was Five years old , learning

on his mothers inherited family piano

The Rocket Man film , includes many un related story's invented

to sell bums on seats by the screen writers




A Natural Genius




Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 11:48 AM

I also think it doesn’t matter whether lyrics or music come first or at the same time, etc. There’s more than one way to write a song. Those with intuition/talent/awareness can write something that others hear words in or music in the words, and make a connection; ultimately creating a moving song. Sometimes that involves more than one person.


Actually you are right, But often the best results happen if the two are written together,

Many hit songs happen because someone , writes a lyric to an existing song and then

gets someone else to write an original score ultimately writing a song who's lyric has an appeal

to millions of people could be the answer ? How you get there does not come into it ,
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 12:53 PM

Originally Posted by Cheyenne
How you get there does not come into it ,
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 03:30 PM

I'm selling Taupin short. I absolutely LOVE his lyrics. I just think they are only "pretty good" without the music...and the music was always written afterwards. With the music, they are sublime. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight"...what a killer song. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"...perfect lyric for the music...weird and silly all alone.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 03:45 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
I honestly think Bernie is just one lucky old hippie poet with a knack for cool, vivid phrases, scenes and imagery. Undiscovered, his lyrics would fill these boards and occasionally get picked up by a composer—but they wouldn't be considered the great songs they are, not at all, no way, nope. A great lyric without music is usually just an okay poem. Elton could take anything, if it grabbed him, and find a way to make it fit in an incredibly unique fashion. I'll bet he really knew how to pack anything into a suitcase. The heavy lifting is all in the compositions, nearly every time. I don't believe Bernie ever had any idea how it would all turn out musically, he just had to creatively express himself freely and basically without rules, then wait for the wizard to animate them majestically. Just imagine some of those lyrics without the music. They would absolutely baffle most composers, but Elton is a stone genius that way. Never more than about 20 minutes, and he finds it—every time! Otherwise he gets bored and gives up.


I totally agree, and find myself wincing to many of BT's lines and he would probably get some negative comments here, in a parallel universe, with "Your Song" for instance, over lines like, "So excuse me forgetting/But these things, I do /You see, I've forgotten /If they're green or they're blue /Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean /Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen" --which just seems like a lotta sayin' very little, to me.

I think it's a fallacy to think that just because he's very successful at what he did that he didn't have the leeway to write some iffy stuff..I think as listeners and armchair critics, there's a bit of revising our personal feelings on these matters (gradually over-the-years) based on overall public acceptance. In other words, we, in THIS universe, think "Your Song" is great. In a parallel universe where Bernie was just another JPF member?

I am probably a bigger fan of the guy who opened for EJ in that first Troubadour/Los Angeles gig, David Ackles, but I love those first several records, though I could probably live happily without ever hearing Bennie and the Jets or Crocodile Rock ever again.

EJ was a manic consumer of other people's music. I worked for the record store chain Tower Records for over two decades, and stories were told of how in the 70s/80s, the Sunset Blvd. store in Hollywood would open up early every Tuesday morning (new release day) and he'd literally buy EVERY new release that came out. That's, to me, part of the formula for being really good at something: have a genuine interest, dare I say passion, for that thing! SO many songwriters I know don't listen to much music, except for maybe a small, old swath of songs they grew up with. Some that I know listen to a LOT of varied and new stuff. Those in the latter category tend to write better songs, IMHO.

Mike
Posted By: Gavin Sinclair

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 05:05 PM

Completely with you, Mike. I am a huge Elton fan, but with songs like Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Sacrifice and Sad Songs, why would I waste precious time listening to Bennie and the Jets, Crocodile Rock or even Your Song.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 09:27 PM

Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
I honestly think Bernie is just one lucky old hippie poet with a knack for cool, vivid phrases, scenes and imagery. Undiscovered, his lyrics would fill these boards and occasionally get picked up by a composer—but they wouldn't be considered the great songs they are, not at all, no way, nope. A great lyric without music is usually just an okay poem. Elton could take anything, if it grabbed him, and find a way to make it fit in an incredibly unique fashion. I'll bet he really knew how to pack anything into a suitcase. The heavy lifting is all in the compositions, nearly every time. I don't believe Bernie ever had any idea how it would all turn out musically, he just had to creatively express himself freely and basically without rules, then wait for the wizard to animate them majestically. Just imagine some of those lyrics without the music. They would absolutely baffle most composers, but Elton is a stone genius that way. Never more than about 20 minutes, and he finds it—every time! Otherwise he gets bored and gives up.


I totally agree, and find myself wincing to many of BT's lines and he would probably get some negative comments here, in a parallel universe, with "Your Song" for instance, over lines like, "So excuse me forgetting/But these things, I do /You see, I've forgotten /If they're green or they're blue /Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean /Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen" --which just seems like a lotta sayin' very little, to me.

I think it's a fallacy to think that just because he's very successful at what he did that he didn't have the leeway to write some iffy stuff..I think as listeners and armchair critics, there's a bit of revising our personal feelings on these matters (gradually over-the-years) based on overall public acceptance. In other words, we, in THIS universe, think "Your Song" is great. In a parallel universe where Bernie was just another JPF member?

I am probably a bigger fan of the guy who opened for EJ in that first Troubadour/Los Angeles gig, David Ackles, but I love those first several records, though I could probably live happily without ever hearing Bennie and the Jets or Crocodile Rock ever again.

EJ was a manic consumer of other people's music. I worked for the record store chain Tower Records for over two decades, and stories were told of how in the 70s/80s, the Sunset Blvd. store in Hollywood would open up early every Tuesday morning (new release day) and he'd literally buy EVERY new release that came out. That's, to me, part of the formula for being really good at something: have a genuine interest, dare I say passion, for that thing! SO many songwriters I know don't listen to much music, except for maybe a small, old swath of songs they grew up with. Some that I know listen to a LOT of varied and new stuff. Those in the latter category tend to write better songs, IMHO.

Mike


Mike, well, you could put the greatest lyric or song ever written on this forum, and it would still get alot of negative critiques, because of star power. If you're not a star, somehow you're not as viable, sometimes its the other way around too. So, I dont know if its overinflating a known commodity or underinflating an unknown one, but I have seen some writers on this forum get MORE praise, and as we saw with the Clapton thread, somehow Clapton sucks, but people here dont. Other times somebody with something brilliant may not even get a reply.

Most of the time its the music anyway, we dont have many Elton Johns in the world, let alone ones who demo songs and place them on forums.

In my opinion, "Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean" is fantastic writing, because it makes the singer accessible. He's "simply stating" that he has trouble "simply stating" something...not the writer, but the character. Which fits with the humble and innocent tone of the lyric. It's conversational and brings the person in the song alive, but thats just my opinion.

The Beatles wrote plenty of IFFY stuff too.
Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/03/19 09:52 PM

Dont forget to blame Bernie for some of the whimpy and cheesey and even comical tunes, is not really fair. Elton wrote the music for them all!

He wrote 'LAAAAAA..... la la la la, la la la la in a baby type of setting for crocodile rock

I mean its right there with All You Need Is Love.

But i happen to like both songs.

I dont have a problem calling both Bernie And Elton geniuses
Posted By: Kristi McKeever

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/04/19 01:19 AM

Cheyenne said Bernie T. probably had more ideas about popular song format than we give him credit for and he probably went back and forth with Elton John before they had something. I think that’s likely very true.

No one knows what went into a lyric...people only see the lines at the end of the process and those lines can be underestimated. Music can really bring out what the lyrics are really saying and ones that grab me tell a unique story in an interesting way or express an emotion in a way that I connect with. And like Donna said a page back, that’s the trick....and it does not usually come easy, for me, anyway.

And I agree...in “Your Song”, I hear it as an in the moment spilling of his feelings, as we witness this guy, sittin’ on the roof, kicking off the moss, trying to express himself. He can’t give this person anything...he’s not rich or flashy....but he has his feelings....these tentative thoughts that we hear...and he shares them. Those words are part of his emotion...and that’s the point...he’s vulnerable dancing around what to say. “It may be quite simple” indeed, but “this is your song”. What a gift! wink
Posted By: Cheyenne

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/04/19 06:57 AM

THE LISTENERS and buyers could not give a ( monkeye's what name)

about so called Cheese and Ham in some of these past hits

Lets remember most of these songs referred to here include

songs by Elton and Bernie that are at least fifty years old? even older are songs

by John Lennon and Paul Mc Cartney --Paul wrote Yesterday in the Nineteen

Sixties .

Bernie was the right Guy for Elton --and Paul and John changed the

world of Pop Music forever (Thank God They Met)


Sites like JUST PLAIN FOLKS were non existent like Personal

computers back then

Now we get certain people on here pointing out all the so called frailties

in some of their songs ??? and in general its comments from wannabe

writers who have achieved Sweet Fanny Adams in a near life time of writing


We are all Humans and from time to time we l all write some songs

that could be considered by the professionals and the public as

PURE AND UTTER CRAP

The hit songs written by all the above writers out weigh the weaker songs

that slipped past the A and R Department, Get Real Chaps




Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/04/19 03:25 PM

Originally Posted by Fdemetrio
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
I honestly think Bernie is just one lucky old hippie poet with a knack for cool, vivid phrases, scenes and imagery. Undiscovered, his lyrics would fill these boards and occasionally get picked up by a composer—but they wouldn't be considered the great songs they are, not at all, no way, nope. A great lyric without music is usually just an okay poem. Elton could take anything, if it grabbed him, and find a way to make it fit in an incredibly unique fashion. I'll bet he really knew how to pack anything into a suitcase. The heavy lifting is all in the compositions, nearly every time. I don't believe Bernie ever had any idea how it would all turn out musically, he just had to creatively express himself freely and basically without rules, then wait for the wizard to animate them majestically. Just imagine some of those lyrics without the music. They would absolutely baffle most composers, but Elton is a stone genius that way. Never more than about 20 minutes, and he finds it—every time! Otherwise he gets bored and gives up.


I totally agree, and find myself wincing to many of BT's lines and he would probably get some negative comments here, in a parallel universe, with "Your Song" for instance, over lines like, "So excuse me forgetting/But these things, I do /You see, I've forgotten /If they're green or they're blue /Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean /Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen" --which just seems like a lotta sayin' very little, to me.

I think it's a fallacy to think that just because he's very successful at what he did that he didn't have the leeway to write some iffy stuff..I think as listeners and armchair critics, there's a bit of revising our personal feelings on these matters (gradually over-the-years) based on overall public acceptance. In other words, we, in THIS universe, think "Your Song" is great. In a parallel universe where Bernie was just another JPF member?

I am probably a bigger fan of the guy who opened for EJ in that first Troubadour/Los Angeles gig, David Ackles, but I love those first several records, though I could probably live happily without ever hearing Bennie and the Jets or Crocodile Rock ever again.

EJ was a manic consumer of other people's music. I worked for the record store chain Tower Records for over two decades, and stories were told of how in the 70s/80s, the Sunset Blvd. store in Hollywood would open up early every Tuesday morning (new release day) and he'd literally buy EVERY new release that came out. That's, to me, part of the formula for being really good at something: have a genuine interest, dare I say passion, for that thing! SO many songwriters I know don't listen to much music, except for maybe a small, old swath of songs they grew up with. Some that I know listen to a LOT of varied and new stuff. Those in the latter category tend to write better songs, IMHO.

Mike


Mike, well, you could put the greatest lyric or song ever written on this forum, and it would still get alot of negative critiques, because of star power. If you're not a star, somehow you're not as viable, sometimes its the other way around too. So, I dont know if its overinflating a known commodity or underinflating an unknown one, but I have seen some writers on this forum get MORE praise, and as we saw with the Clapton thread, somehow Clapton sucks, but people here dont. Other times somebody with something brilliant may not even get a reply.

Most of the time its the music anyway, we dont have many Elton Johns in the world, let alone ones who demo songs and place them on forums.

In my opinion, "Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean" is fantastic writing, because it makes the singer accessible. He's "simply stating" that he has trouble "simply stating" something...not the writer, but the character. Which fits with the humble and innocent tone of the lyric. It's conversational and brings the person in the song alive, but thats just my opinion.

The Beatles wrote plenty of IFFY stuff too.


Hi FD,

I get the meta nature of "Your Song" and how it is showing, not telling, a shy person's fumbling attempt at giving a really nice present to someone. I just think it goes on way too long and is too "roses are red, violets are blue" in some spots for me, even taking in the song's meta-nature.

But I generally agree with what you are saying here, otherwise.

Mike
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/04/19 03:50 PM

Originally Posted by Cheyenne


Sites like JUST PLAIN FOLKS were non existent like Personal

computers back then

Now we get certain people on here pointing out all the so called frailties

in some of their songs ??? and in general its comments from wannabe

writers who have achieved Sweet Fanny Adams in a near life time of writing




Yes, how dare anyone without real writing credentials, me included, point out any frailties in any of "great writers" songs. Thanks for putting me in my place.

Except..the thing is..what I really mean..is..that is absolutely NOT what I said. I did not point out frailties. I made it VERY clear I was stating my opinion.

If you don't like the fact that social media, JPF, etc. are places where opinions happen, that's not my problem. I just think "Your Song" gets a bit tedious. By "think" I mean, that is to say, that's my personal opinion.

What's REALLY tedious is when folks start beating their chests saying "my opinion has more weight because.." ...(and then they rattle off their credentials)..whether it be true or not (in the realm of art) is another thread, another time..and by "it" I mean whether one's credentials give one's opinion more weight or not.

There are millions of one-eyed men looking for blind kingdoms to reign o'er. I am a bit more humble than that and rarely share an opinion publicly for fear of getting verbally bum-rushed and sucker punched for offering it. Ouch..

Do note, I said I LOVE their first several records, meaning albums..and then mentioned a few of the tunes I could live without. Sacrilege to you? Sorry..definitely did NOT mean to offend..

Mike

Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/04/19 04:42 PM

Originally Posted by Kristi McKeever
Cheyenne said Bernie T. probably had more ideas about popular song format than we give him credit for and he probably went back and forth with Elton John before they had something. I think that’s likely very true.

No one knows what went into a lyric...people only see the lines at the end of the process and those lines can be underestimated. Music can really bring out what the lyrics are really saying and ones that grab me tell a unique story in an interesting way or express an emotion in a way that I connect with. And like Donna said a page back, that’s the trick....and it does not usually come easy, for me, anyway.

And I agree...in “Your Song”, I hear it as an in the moment spilling of his feelings, as we witness this guy, sittin’ on the roof, kicking off the moss, trying to express himself. He can’t give this person anything...he’s not rich or flashy....but he has his feelings....these tentative thoughts that we hear...and he shares them. Those words are part of his emotion...and that’s the point...he’s vulnerable dancing around what to say. “It may be quite simple” indeed, but “this is your song”. What a gift! wink


Hi Kristi,

One thing I can't get around when I listen to "Your Song" --and makes me doubt its sincere tone is..if I was going to write a song for someone that was truly their song, I'd mention their name in it or say at least one thing about them. It seems beyond trying to create an atmosphere of a shy, backwards writer who barely knows the person he's addressing...and so the entire logic behind the song falls apart for me. Like so.. "hi there, nice person I admire, I wrote you this song, just for you..though I don't say your name in it..nor do I actually say anything about you personally..heck..that would make it less universal, but still, you gotta believe me, this is YOUR song..though..I'm gonna publish it and make it a hit, it is honestly and truly, your song" LOL..Don't hate me. It just seems to me like "Your Song" is smoke and mirrors and a clever trick..but IMHO NOT actually a song to give anybody special, since it could really be a love-letter addressed to "dear occupant." Okay, alright..he does comment on his/her eyes. They are the sweetest he's ever seen. I can see her finally making sense of the song, right there, saying to herself, "oh, that's nice, he likes my eyes.." wink

To me, it's relying on a clever gimmick to make it work. Not that there's anything wrong with that. "I Honestly Love You" is similar in form. With "I Honestly Love You" the singer addresses the potential creepiness in the bridge ("I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable") but that's missing in "Your Song," and I always imagine the "singee" getting a bit creeped out when the singer intones, "how wonderful life is while you're in the world" --thinking perhaps, "do I know this guy?" --cuz for the set up to work, the singer cannot know the singee very well, right? Or he'd at least remember the color of the eyes, or say at least one concrete thing about her..after all, isn't that how you make someone feel special? Let them know you've noticed stuff about them?

But I can see the mechanics of why folks like it, and it definitely slams the door shut on anyone else coming along and writing a "song of infatuation" that says very little about the singer or singee and is basically the singer telling of his inability to say anything specifically about the singee and moreover about his inability to say anything particularly clever at all, but will keep stammering on, regardless. Now THAT'S clever..

I agree with you about what BT was doing, there. It was a very meta and "showing" (as opposed to "telling") way of writing a first person lyric conveying shyness and the overall impression with most folks is one of sweetness and sincerity, but I think it's EJ's music that sways the material into that sweet spot. Monty Python could easily add a few more verses and made it a funny parody..that never gets to the "sweet eyes" line, and where the singer disregards personal space and gets really close when singing "how wonderful life is.." with the singee obviously getting irritated..

I just think it could have been more concise, even if that lack of concision might be what makes it feel more "homey" and real to most folks. And by "think" I mean "IMHO."

Thanks for sharing yours, you know I value it. smile

And I addressed this to you cuz I know you understand I am being mostly playful in my presentation.

Later ol' friend.. smile

Mike
Posted By: Mark Kaufman

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/05/19 07:36 PM

I think "Your Song" is intentionally self-deprecating, a narrative in which the narrator is clearly flawed. It's probably what I like about it most, other than the fact that no other song really sounds like it. A slow, plodding, awkward bit of simple beauty, to me.
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/05/19 08:44 PM

Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman
I think "Your Song" is intentionally self-deprecating, a narrative in which the narrator is clearly flawed. It's probably what I like about it most, other than the fact that no other song really sounds like it. A slow, plodding, awkward bit of simple beauty, to me.


Hi Mark,

I must have an extra "why" chromosome or something..(smiling when I said that..) I'm okay with being in a minority about "Your Song."

No, I mean..I get what you're saying and have understood that about the song, but it still feels phony to me..

You say, "flawed narrator" --but have you considered perhaps it to be an authentic young narrator?

I could imagine that BT really wrote the lyric when he was fourteen or something. I think I'd like the song, actually, if it was coming out of the mouth of an adolescent, cuz then the stammering shyness makes more sense to me.

Or if Randy Newman wrote it, him being a guy who changes characters with every song he sings--I'd imagine that same 14 yr old POV..

If it actually came out as some point that BT DID write the lyric when he was a kid, would that change how you felt about it?

Since the lyric could possibly double as that of adolescent writing, it's remarkable that the majority of folks quickly suspend disbelief with EJ, a grown man and now mature man, singing it.

It could be argued that at least the lyrical phrasing is beyond what an untrained kid could write..I'm not so sure..

It could be called "The Being There Effect" in that everyone in that movie ("Being There") thinks Chauncy Gardner a sage, but we in the audience know he's just repeating what he's seen on TV. So with "Your Song" --we think it genius! But ANY 14 yr old with a crush on someone coulda written the lyric. EJ is mostly responsible for the great phrasing of some awkward line constructions..again..all my conjecture and opinion..

You have to admit it's an easy song to poke fun at and I confess part of me doing that was me mining for stand-up material, since I'm trying to get that solid 8th and 9th minute of a ten minute monologue that I can rap by heart, in a club in front of people cuz I plan on doing that at some point, and really, let's face it, there's nothing like dying in front of a room full of people! --don't worry, I won't quit my day job.

Side note--Rocketman/Yesterday mashup in my brain..I imagine if BT and EJ actually HAD hooked up, there would be no catalogue of songs as we know it.

Perhaps Bernie wrote "Your Song" for Elton after Elton made an unsuccessful pass or confessed his feelings, giving Elton "true words" to sing, cuz those always sing with more passion. "I'm not one of those who can easily hide" could be interpreted as him realizing he can't stay 'closeted' forever, since he was no Liberace but still pretty flamboyant..

Thanks for making having different opinions fun again. wink

Mike
Posted By: Kristi McKeever

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/06/19 12:41 AM

Hi Mike,

Hey..yes, playful and persuasive! I agree the lyric of “Your Song” is universal in scope. I actually have the sheet music because it’s a song I learned to play on the piano when I was a teenager. smile The lyric talks a lot more about him & his musings and yeah...he doesn’t spend that kind of time on personal attributes of the receiver. I get what you're sayin'. But it's the best he can do at this moment on the roof....lol...ya know?

Anyway....it’s one of my faves of his...but I couldn’t say why exactly...maybe because it’s been around so long...lol....and to me, it feels like he knows no other way....and as in Mark’s description of him there, being self-deprecating and flawed...I feel for the guy. Ever notice how he chuckles after he sings, “If I were a sculptor...”? Like, no way, how ridiculous, he could never be that! That’s revealing! (and it’s not in the lyric either). I like the piano too.

As with anything, art & music are subjective. That’s what makes it so exciting!

It’s fun to toss about these thoughts and ideas. I do believe talking about lyrics and songs helps us all be better writers!! smile

Kristi
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/06/19 12:54 AM

Originally Posted by Kristi McKeever
Hi Mike,

Hey..yes, playful and persuasive! I agree the lyric of “Your Song” is universal in scope. I actually have the sheet music because it’s a song I learned to play on the piano when I was a teenager. smile The lyric talks a lot more about him & his musings and yeah...he doesn’t spend that kind of time on personal attributes of the receiver. I get what you're sayin'. But it's the best he can do at this moment on the roof....lol...ya know?

Anyway....it’s one of my faves of his...but I couldn’t say why exactly...maybe because it’s been around so long...lol....and to me, it feels like he knows no other way....and as in Mark’s description of him there, being self-deprecating and flawed...I feel for the guy. Ever notice how he chuckles after he sings, “If I were a sculptor...”? Like, no way, how ridiculous, he could never be that! That’s revealing! (and it’s not in the lyric either). I like the piano too.

As with anything, art & music are subjective. That’s what makes it so exciting!

It’s fun to toss about these thoughts and ideas. I do believe talking about lyrics and songs helps us all be better writers!! smile

Kristi


Hi Kristi,

Thanks for making me smile big time and for your generous, nice response.

I truly wish when I heard those opening piano tones, my heart would rise instead of sink, and then the awful permeating dread..Yes, YS generates a visceral response..

I am slowly remembering sitting and listening to YS over and over..for over an hour..in a Public Library, when it first came out..with a friend, at the time, who had bought the 45 and then played it and nothing else for well over an hour. I remember trying to get Jerry to play something else, instead of the same record over and over. Didn't happen..I had to be what? Twelve thirteen..I had forgotten this for..hmmm...over a few decades..I am no psychologist, but I remember feeling like..okay, dude, I know the song by heart, now can we hear something else already? I would hate to think all my theories about YS are just smokescreens for a frustrating adolescent drama I went through, LOL..

BTW, I am with you on writing songs with real friends in mind. The actual content does not need to be real stuff that happened, just that there be an imagined (though real) recipient at the other end. That helps generate real emotion, I believe. smile

But anyway,

Always nice talking. smile

Mike

Posted By: Fdemetrio

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/06/19 03:32 PM

I think we think of songs as just a story or a succession of lines all packed into a structure.

But the singer is a character, hes playing the role that the writer came up with. At least in Your Song, he's playing the role of an every day Joe. You can almost see/hear some ordinary Joe saying this to somebody and not really knowing if his words are making an impact. Im pretty sure he could have written a different line, he just felt that line was right...
Posted By: Kristi McKeever

Re: Why are there so many lyric-only folks? - 07/06/19 09:44 PM

Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
.... I would hate to think all my theories about YS are just smokescreens for a frustrating adolescent drama I went through, LOL..

BTW, I am with you on writing songs with real friends in mind. The actual content does not need to be real stuff that happened, just that there be an imagined (though real) recipient at the other end. That helps generate real emotion, I believe. smile


I get that feeling with a few songs from high school.... grin

And I find writing a lyric in first person is an effective way to express emotions in a story and connect with the listener. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s MY story....the "I" is a character like fdemetrio stated. I see comments to songwriters (including myself) w/the assumption the writer was the one who went thru what was written. Sometimes they have...of course.
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