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A fresh approach to lyric writing
on 20 January 2004
Unlike some books on songwriting, this one provides a songwriting method that will apply for ANY kind of songwriting, whether it be for a traditional stage musical or hardcore rap or anywhere in between. While it is big on grammatical tricks, and never fails to come up with technical wizardry you won't have learned in high school English class (synecdoche anybody?), these are often things that you know you are doing without realising they had a name (synecdoche? U use it wen U txt. Or write songs called "Sk8er Boi", "2 Become 1" or "Nothing Compares 2 U").
The book recommends that you start with a good title, explains fully how to come up with one, then goes on with how to expand the title into a fully fledged song.
Basic lyric writing principles, including song structure, are covered in the first section, but the real meat of this book is in part 2, entitled "Personality Type, Brain Dominance, and the Creative Process". This section posits that in order to write good lyrics, you have to know yourself and, importantly, your thinking style. Every person has strengths and weaknesses, and these will be reflected in the first draft of any lyrics you write. If you know your weaknesses, you'll be able to identify and compensate for them in future drafts of the lyrics.
This approach is so radically different from any other songwriting book I have read - the usual method is to list music genres and give the authors opinion of how that genre works - that it takes several readings to fully understand the approach, but once grasped, it is well worth the effort.
Despite the title, the book is about lyric writing rather than songwriting as a whole - creating memorable music can be as elusive as creating memorable lyrics, and a song is not a song without both these elements. The remaining chapters focus on strategies for writing different types of lyrics, (for example, is it a love song, a hate song, a social comment or whatever), linguistic tricks, framing devices, amd so on.
The book does what it sets out to do, and does so extremely well. Worth every penny.