On songwriting part 13 Visualise your story
by J.P. Kallio
Would you like to be able to tell more visual story in your song? Bob Dylan is a master at painting pictures with words. But also as we study his work inevitably we end up trying to replicate something similar, but only end up being half successful. The common mistake you as a songwriter commit, is to imagine the story in your head, but only half tell it on the paper. The song might make sense to you, but does it make sense to anybody else? Do they know the back story you imagined in your head, but left out of the song?
Also the problem is if we play the song to someone else to get a second opinion, the music might make up for what the lyrics are lacking. And this makes your friend’s opinion maybe not critical enough. So what should you do?
Well I have one solution for you to try. Write the lyrics down. Record your self speaking the lyrics, not singing. Then take a break, go for a walk, do some chores, just anything that will take you away from that songwriting mode. Even fifteen mins can be enough, as long as you try to think about something else than how great your new song is and how it is going to be a number one hit.
Then come back, put headphones on, close your eyes and listen to the recording of the lyrics. Can you visualise the story in your head? Do the words give you detailed enough information to paint the picture in your head? If not, you need to rewrite parts of the lyrics. Add detail, be descriptive and choose your words wisely. You need the words work hard as you don’t want your song to be too “wordy” no one likes to listen to a novel in a form of a song.
Try this out and see how it works for you. Always try to think the song from the listeners perspective, will it make sense to them? And remember, the better story-teller you become, the better songwriter you become. Happy songwriting.
This week I was on a story telling mood once again. It’s hard not to wonder from time to time where all these stories come from… This weeks song is a story of a man who got into a bar room fight, defending the honour of his lady. But things get out of hand, blood is spilled and life is lost. Our character is not a bad person deep down, but has got himself enough small trouble in the past to get to know the local judge and he is sure this would not work to his advantage. So he decides to leave everything he knows, home, family, loved ones, even his country behind and become an outlaw on the run.
The thing is, there are people out there who are genuinely bad people. But at the same time there are those who just ended up in a bad situation that had life altering consequences. So let’s try not to judge people, before we hear their story. It is too easy to make someone look like they are a bad person, by only highlighting one side of the story. We all have made mistakes somewhere along the way.
And lets not forget this weeks song “Outlaw” is available for a download on my Bandcamp pageHERE. Hit the play, download it and share it with the world.