#1
Lyric Writing:

First,

Look at your own life experience and write about it...

Just a stream of consciousness journal of your daily life would be great...

Or, pick a poignant moment in your life: birth, death, finding love, loss of love, self-discovery, spiritual revelations... and journal about them first...before writing any lyrics...

This will help you get in touch with that place within yourself that has a need to express...

Another exercise is:

Jot down several emotions on a page: from each word, write about your experience with those emotions...

I know this sounds like therapy, but, in a way, it is...

You should never just pump out a lyric without having some connection to it...

Recently, a colleague of mine wrote a song about a boy who had been battling leukemia and that boy's father's struggle to come to terms with the fact that he couldn't save his boy, make it better...though he wrote that about someone else's struggle, he did personally know the father and the boy and was deeply moved by the whole thing...

Most often, the only thing you should strive for in lyric content is truth...truth about you, your life, your observations, beliefs, trials, victories, your love, your hate...or how someone else's story affected you...

You shouldn't just "try to write a hit" because people will see through that, they will feel like they are being lied to...

Writing about common experience, a common experience to most people is fine, but it should be from your perspective...

It's entirely cool to be a "character" in the song, if you want to write more fictional material...so don't discount those opportunities for exploration...

Now, all songs don't have to be about deep life issues, but they should be real, true to yourself, and communicate...

Clear communication is another key to a good lyric...

Now some technical stuff:

Too often I think, people get out there Thesaurus and try to find the coolest word, rather than the clearest...

Be clear, say it with focus...

There is another thing you should look at...

Songs do NOT have to rhyme...

The only thing that should influence the course of a line is whether it communicates clearly, the message of the song...

If that does give rise to rhyme, then so be it...

Some suggestions would be to obviously, read and study poetry, NOT lyrics, to start off...

Not only read poetry, but study poetic forms...try and write within those parameters...

Then read and study the greatest lyricists work...those choices are up to your tastes but also should be varied, to get a good overview...

If you want to just grab a catchy hook line and write around it, find an English idioms book and jot down a few common catch phrases, then write your own experiences around that line...

Watch out for phrasing!

This is one of my personal peeves...

You a hear a line being sung hurriedly or a musical phrase is drawn out to match the lyric...EEK!

There is NO reason for this to happen...there are many different ways to say the same thing...

Leading to my next point...

Don't be stuck with the draft of lyrics you have in front of you...be ready, willing and able to self-edit for the sake of the song...

"But I love that line" ...but it doesn't fit, now that you're putting music to it, so change it...don't cram it together, it will sound crammed together...

Write in different styles to test yourself as you go: pop, punk, country, metal, progressive, ...whatever...

So... explore, create, write, re-write, mimic for the sake of learning only, find yourself, your voice, speak truth...

Song Form:

Intro > Verse > Verse > Chorus > Verse > Chorus > Leads > Chorus > Outro

This is the basic tried and true method of many 'classics' that we know and love today. So when we compose songs, should we:

A) Follow that basic structure?

B) Find other alternatives?

C) If we do go the alternative route, what IS a viable alternative? Sonic Youth comes to mind and so does the newer Radiohead songs.

D) and finally Should songwriting be more pragmatic or emotional? Someone like Fatboy Slim has a great mix of both.

That’s basic Pop form, with maybe a bridge in place of a solo in some cases, but to explore other forms and non-traditional forms is what music itself asks of those who create it...

Now, commercial viability is a toss of the coin where that's concerned...Dave Matthews, has had incredible success but has really challenged the industry on many levels...whereas others have tried and fallen flat in commercial success (which is no real barometer for musical validity anyway)...

So really, just ask yourself what is the end goal for the tune...and follow that direction, NOT some expected form for the sake of following form...

Hope this helps,

Scott


#2
Lots of weird spaces, but you had some good points such as this one:

the only thing you should strive for in lyric content is truth...truth about you, your life, your observations, beliefs, trials, victories, your love, your hate...or how someone else's story affected you...


I've seen a lot of writings that were written just to sound "cool" and ended up worthy only of the trash can. You have to believe and feel what you're writing, or it will almost always end up as just a hollow, mindless rant.
#3
Quote by Scott Jones
Don't be stuck with the draft of lyrics you have in front of you...be ready, willing and able to self-edit for the sake of the song...

"But I love that line" ...but it doesn't fit, now that you're putting music to it, so change it...don't cram it together, it will sound crammed together...
So true. I can't stress that point enough. If you're not capable of "murdering your baby" to improve the piece, you're not really ever going to grow as a writer.