Rewriting Your Songs
Rewriting song lyrics is a topic that every songwriter must master. Rarely ever do song lyrics just blurt out of a writer with absolutely no changes. So how do we rewrite our song lyrics? When do we stop, how do we get better at it? Check out this excerpt from Dave's book "The Songwriting Fundamentals" below on this very topic.
A wonderful comment about songwriting is "great songs are not written, they're rewritten. Any skill is not generally WONDERFUL with the 1st take. Imagine making a movie and using only the 1st take of every scene. Imagine how funny commercials would be if they insisted on using only the 1st take. The peculiar thing is that we as songwriters often rely just on our "1st take" as a finished product. Why do we do that? The reason I believe that songwriters (self-included) feel that we're special is that once we get the initial inspiration, we've given birth to a song. How many parents would take their 1st child or two and look at them and say "you need a little work yet, I'll send you back and we'll try again." LOL! That song that we began birthing is close to us and we now begin treating it like a child. It's special, it's ours, we love it, and it's perfect JUST THE WAY IT IS! ;-) Besides, it's cool to imagine being interviewed and saying "Ohh, yea, that song of mine that has been #1 for the last 6 months was all written in 5 minutes. I write all my songs like that."
Treating our initial song inspirations like our little children leads to problems. We don't keep an open ear and consider critiques or input from people very well anymore. We don't walk the floor thinking of better lines anymore. We don't toy around with our music wondering if a better chord progression could make the song stand out more. We've decided not to work on the melody to make it more "catchy." Before you know it, this song ends up with a collection of songs we like and wonder why no one else ever liked it much. Again, no one can tell you your kid is a brat, err, or your rhymes are a little cliche without us running out the door with our hands over our ears at that point screaming "it's fine, it's fine, I like it that way!"
What if we took a different approach? What if we wrote our songs with the intention of rewriting it? Hmm, that is a little different. It's kind of like tricking yourself. You keep that intention and what happens if you don't allow yourself to be nearly as attached as you were to the song originally. I often do that with verses. I have a verse and it seems "OK" but I don't want an "OK" song I want a very good song I get to hear on the radio. ;-) So I say to myself, "I'm sure I'll keep that 2nd verse, but just for kicks, just for something to do, I'm going to write it a completely different way. I'm going to ditch this and do this instead of that, etc." Many times I find that that old 2nd verse wasn't that good after all and this new version is much better and tossing the old verse 2 in the trash can now come much easier.
When inspiration comes, don't slow it down by worrying about rhymes etc. yet. Just get it all out on paper, tape etc. so that it all comes out. Then after a day or so of tossing it around, go back to it and map it out. Map out where the song needs to start, where it needs to lead the listener, and where it needs to end. Be very tight with the focus of the song. You are now on rewrite #1. You are now taking the "idea" and making it a song. Now get away from it again. Print it out the next day and begin walking around, driving around, sitting outside etc. reading / singing it through. Be very careful not to get attached yet, think "I'm writing this with the intention of rewriting this a couple more times." There's no pressure on keeping current lines, keeping new lines etc., so you're free to fool around. As you read and sing through it look for "speed bumps." Speed bumps in your song are lines or phrases that just don't seem to flow very good on your songs road. They draw attention to their selves as being cliche, unclear in meaning, not very vivid, etc. Take those "speed bumps, those parts that you kind of, sort of wonder if it's that good, and magnify them so you can wipe them out and the song soars from start to finish. Your song deserves it. Don't make another "good" song, rewrite it and make a great song. This will cover another few rewrites.
Look at your song and make sure it is strong in what I call the songwriting triangle. #1 Does the lyric draw the listener in and unfold well. Good lyric painting, focused, clear, etc. #2 Is the songs structure sound? Rhyme scheme, etc. #3 Is it catchy? Hook VERY strong, chorus wraps it up, catchy melody, progressions, musical parts, etc. that make people want to walk around humming it for days saying "Help, I can't this song out of my head!!!" LOL! That should give you another rewrite or two on your song.
At some point you've polished the car, I mean song, to a point where it's time to stop admiring it and get in and drive. As with anything, don't go completely overboard. Someday you're going to have to boot your little child/song out of the nest and let it fly on its own two wings. Sit back then, and admire it, knowing you've done your best work on it.
The point is *you wrote the song with rewriting it in mind all along.* You weren't so attached to it that you loved the 1st few lines that spilled out onto paper and "had" to keep them You did what was best for the song.
Do you feel like your songs aren't as good as you wished they were? Does it seem like your writing the same old thing? Do you have trouble finishing songs? Do you find yourself sounding like a Dr. Suess book when trying to rhyme? Are you ready to improve your songwriting? This is the book for you then. Dave Byers has studied many of the songwriting books on the market. His goal was to lay out the craft of songwriting in the clearest, concise and direct manner. He has spent years pouring over interviews from songwriters and studied at great length hit songs from many genres. He is an accomplished musician and instructor. He has been a songwriter for over 35 years and will quickly help you improve your songwriting. "Discover the true joy of songwriting when you understand the fundamentals used in many successful songs!" This book covers songwriting from A to Z. It is the perfect book for those starting out in songwriting as well as the intermediate and advanced writers looking to improve their songwriting skills. Each section is clearly labeled and easy to find. No other book covers the songwriting fundamentals as completely as this book does. Get a lifetime of songwriting experience in this book for less than the cost of a typical music lesson. A terrific value! Get your copy today and improve your songwriting skills quickly.
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