Writing Lyrics

A guide from an emo boy, who reads a lot of Nietzche, on how to write songs with the most meaningfulness possible.

Ultimate Guitar
For the past 5 years of my life, I have been writing music on and off. It really helps you get along whenever you are confused, pissed off, or just angsty. In this guide, I'm going to try to relay my technique in song writing to you, in hopes that it will help start you on your way to writing meaningful music! (ex. Not Jonas Bros/Pop Syndicated garbage) Generally, when I write a song, I have a powerful emotion brewing inside of me. Whether it's anger, melancholy, or a strong feeling of indifference to certain things. Anyways, I usually start off writing a song by sitting down with my guitar and just blurting out what I want to transcribe over a simple chord progression. For example, I was quite upset with a friend of mine for not letting me talk to a girl he liked, so in my frustration I sat down and came up with the chorus in one try: Hey brunette beauty with your hair let down I'm sick and tired of waiting around now If he won't step up then I'll jump in I've got just as much right and just as much feeling You lift me up from the floor to the ceiling, now Aren't you excited for something new? While this isn't the most profound piece of music to date, it was a good start (plus I recorded it and the girl heard it and she literally cried! God I'm a baller) This song was written during a more juvenile period of my song writing so it could be misconstrued as Pop syndicate garbage (which basically proves that a 14 year old can write just as well as as the professionals who write for Hannah Montana). I have matured in this short time period, as I am now 17, and have started to touch upon more serious topics, or at least more realistic ones. For example, One of my more recent songs included the verse: Keep your mind on the reason, for all the things you do You have always had a treasonous capacity in you State of mind, slowly leaning, towards the quiet kids, not you Cruelty loves its company, but I've heard misery does too As you can see, I'm much more angsty now. Anyways these are just some examples of how easy it is to just sit down and quickly throw out what you really want to say. Also, A Quick Rule Of Thumb Never write a song just to write a song! Make sure you have actual passion for what you are writing about. If not, you will end up frustrated, and have an uninspired piece of garbage. For example, I haven't really been inspired by anything in a while so I don't even bother writing. That's why most bands' later albums blow, because they are just making a deadline. Take as much time as you need to perfect your song. Just think of it as a piece of art, you wouldn't consider it finished until it looks just like you want it to. As for Rhyming, remember that you don't always need to rhyme. Sometimes it is more appropriate to write blank verse. But if you do wish to rhyme, always have a thesaurus and rhyming dictionary handy! I always just use rhymezone.com and thesaurus.com. It can really help you out of a jam and can allow you to fit a line in much better into a song. Well, there is not much else I can say about song writing. The most important things you must remember are: Write what you know and make sure you are writing music for the right reasons, that is, if you want to write anything decent. And please promise me you won't start writing music because you want people to think you're cool. Write because it's what you love to do. Otherwise you'll end up like Greg Brady, or should I say Johnny Bravo.

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I agreed with most of what you said and this wasn't a half bad article to get someone started out on. I have found that the biggest part of writing lyrics is having confidence in what you have to say. A lot of people spend too much time comparing themselves to "so and so" and they belittle their own lyrics. Who says you can't write? No one has ever developed a way to measure how 'good' a lyric is, so no one can disprove you.
    Let It Be0o0
    great article, some of it was kind of obvious but it helps a lot, you've earned an 8 ))
    @ above: xD anyways, that first chorus. just wanted to say it sounds very pop-ish to me
    messyties wrote: Also, I wouldn't use the thesaurus too much, you can come off sounding like a pretentious cock
    Remember the episode of friends where Joey uses a thesaurus to write Monica and Chandler a letter of recommendation for adoption. I wrote a bunch of songs for a girlfriend and she called me gay the first one that I showed her, so I didn't show her any more. She broke up with me about a month or two after that. The latest one I wrote was about how I idolised her and told her about it, she said that it was really cute and I asked her to die painfully. Its been a week and she hasn't died yet.
    uh no. There's a difference between inspiration and work. That's the difference between respected artists and those who don't make it. The Artists know how to draw upon their creativity at all points and write amazing music no matter what. Music itself inflicts passion and that in turn should bring with it lyrical insperation...not the other way around. seemed more like an article of a 17 yr old trying to brag about 'lyrics' and getting the girl with the music...and being an ass to his friend than helping really.
    also, i wouldnt use the thesaurus too much, you can come off sounding like a pretentious cock
    i agree with Coulterboyz. when your heads not too caught up with something its easier to take a distanced perspective and write about something from a different poit of view
    nice colum I don't write my music "the voice" does but im shure anyone who isn't skitzo would be really helped.
    I'm going to have to politely disagree with one part of this, where you say NEVER write a song just to write. While I agree that rarely will you write your best songs while you don't feel what you are saying yourself, I do feel it is helpful to write everyday, even if you don't want to. For me this helps me keep the creative juices flowing on a daily basis and even on a bad day I generally come up with at least a couple lines I like and can adjust for a better song later.
    that's well done. now i know that i'm doing right with my songwriting (i do that for 2 years, so since i'm 13). there was a time when i wrote songs just to get some girls (it didn't work), but i got some money for that, by selling the songs to the "girlband" of a friend of mine. i even tought some people to write songs and so i say there could be some more tips in the article, but all in all it's a good one.
    ^ Apparently not how to punctuate. Jk. Oh, and nice article. Knew this all already, but still good stuff. Oh, and I loved the Johnny Bravo reference.
    wow, pretty good writing for a 17 yr old (but what do i no, im 16) anyway very helpful, good column
    reminded me that I gotta get back to the good old songwriting haven't do it in years. I like your lyrics, keep up the good work.