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Who else can't write lyrics to save their lives?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Mr. Zebraface, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. Arr...i finally got myself in a band, which is great coz I've wanted to be in a band for ages. Unfortuneatly, I have been given the task of trying to write our lyrics...I have major writer's block, and all my lyrics suck! I'm in a kinda emo/punk band, but we want to break away from the emo cliche of singing about love 24/7. :rolleyes:

    So, any advice for writing lyrics, or anyone else wanna have a moan about how they cant write good lyrics?
  2. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    The thing about song lyrics, is that it can be very difficult not to make them sound like bad 6th form poetry.

    I think perhaps it could be a good idea to forget trying to be poetic, and go for a different approach. What approach, I don't know...

    I've always thought that Steely Dan had really good lyrics. Witty. Paul Simon is another one.
  3. Sometimes I come up with ideas that I can expand, sometimes I don't.

    I'm better with basslines, I can put music to lyrics more easily. Although I've written 2 songs, and have a chorus line for another - still to work out the rest for that song.

    Mostly I don't try - our singer seems good at coming up with lyrics!
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yup - I can remember being in bands and never really hearing the lyrics, but then actualy getting to hear them when we did recordings and being really embarassed and thinking - how can you sing that!!

    As to the Steely Dan suggestion - they are my favourite, but nobody else has done this - how long hav ethey been around? But nobody has emulated them or done anything like their stuff - they are totaly unique! I think you would be aiming very high indeed, if you tried to be like them!!

    Plus their lyrics convey some strange criminal under-class or under-world, which while fascinating; is not a place I think I would want to live in - so loads of drug abuse/dealing, organised crime, perversions, sado-masochism, violence, homelessness and death !! :(
  5. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK

    And they have a unique take on it.

    Also they like to take the point of view of the older man after the younger girl - e.g. Hey Nineteen, and Cousin Dupree.

    And the humour that comes over in the songs is really evident in Becker & Fagen's personalities. In interviews, they're like they come over in the songs!

    And their liner notes for the most recent CD reissues reflect this too. They're really fun to read! It basically follows a story, which starts with the "Can't Buy A Thrill" liner notes, and continues through "Countdown To Ecstacy", "Pretzel Logic" etc. etc. through to "Gaucho" - telling their story in their own funny, self-deprecating style.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I have the 4CD Box set "Citizen Steely Dan" which has a large booklet with a very long interview with them.

    They come across as quiet humorous on the "2 Against Nature" live show DVD - but they also look as if they have lived a lot of that stuff and have admitted heroin addiction etc.
  7. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, Walter Becker had a problem with herion addiction, didn't he? I think Fagen has been pretty drug free. I think I've heard them say in interviews that they're lyrics are partly autobiographical.

    They deny that "Cousin Dupree" is autobiographical though :D
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The point is though,that I'm not sure I would want the "experience" necessary to write like this and maybe we shouldn't be advising anybody else to take them as role models?
  9. in answer to the thread title: linkin park.
  10. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Well, do you need to experience this stuff to write about it?
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, as I said, nobody else seems to have been able to emulate them or even come close!!
  12. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Snicker ;)
  13. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Ouch! :spit:

    Lyrics are probably harder to write than music, because you have another layer of complexity to work with. The best thing to do is learn how to condense your thoughts. Say what you want to convey in as few words as possible. Use phrases when it fits. If you are speaking of something highly personal - broaden the use of your words to something a little more understandable by everyone else.

    Here's a couple brief lines that I've written in the past, both about women I've known. They aren't particularly stellar, but I wanted to convey a feeling as simply as I could:

    • The things I feel inside of me just won't let go
      This strange fascination I have for you
      Is all I need to know
    • Every single thought of you makes me smile
  14. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Creed has some of the worst lyrics ever, coupled with some of the most cliche music going. Bad combination.

    As far as writing lyrics, what's worked for me is going with your gut instinct and writing the whole song in one shot. Don't think too hard about it; just blow. You may find you've just inspired yourelf to go in a direction you wouldn't have thought of if you had deliberated too much.

    Great lyricist? Roger Waters, without a doubt.
  15. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    SO it started out as a "who can't write good lyrics" thread and turned into a Steely Dan thread, :meh:

    Anyway, I kinda know how you feel- I've written the lyrics for a few swongs and all my friends and stuff that I send them to say they are cool, great, whatever, but deep down I'm just like, man, this just sounds kinda cheesy. I think that a lot of bands have a certain insecurity with their lyrics to some extent though- at least until the song becomes popular, lol. My band is currently in a weird position looking for a singer because the keyboard player was married recently and can't seem to sing about anything but her :p, and when he does he sings like some sappy EMO guy, lol. (no offence intended to the EMO crowd).
  16. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    I feel much the same way about Creed (although I did like their first album), but in the big marketing picture, that's a very good combination if you want to be successful and sell records, get on the radio, blah, blah...None of my bands will ever be very popular cause my lyrics aren't trendy enough. :D
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well the actual question asked was :

    "So, any advice for writing lyrics, or anyone else wanna have a moan about how they cant write good lyrics?"

    So - this lead to whether Steely Dan are a good starting point to emulate - get addicted to heroin, meet some down and outs, gangsters, drug dealers, sadists, perverts etc

    And write songs about them!! Well that's one way of doing it!! ;)
  18. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    LOL, think I'll pass on that one Bruce ;). Ya know, for the terrible rap you get aorund here for being so blunt and ruthless you seem to be a pretty humorous guy. I think you'd be alot more appreciated if there weren't so many stupid people in the world begging to be slammed, lol.

  19. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I can rap, and I can write poetry, but Lyrics....I probably CAN do, but I've never really tried, I'm kind of scared to sing any lyrical song that has meaning to me, because people always know me for being stoic and not that expressive in words, :meh:
  20. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK

    To be fair - it wasn't until later (80s - Gaucho era, I think?) that Becker had problems with drugs.

    I think their lyrics were more a product of their imagination and sense of humour than their actual experience. The characters in their songs were pretty fictional. Even when they were based on real life experience, I think that was probably mainly a starting point, on which they elaborated.

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