Every songwriter has these random thoughts, “ls it music first or lyrics?”. Most of us will tell you they both can be the beginning of a song. I’ve had a lyric running around in my head for years before it becomes a song, others that just live there in a state of limbo forever. I’ve had them wake me from a sound sleep, and if I don’t take the time to jot them down, they disappear into a deeper chasm never to surface again. I’ve got voice memos on my phone that are the start of a lyric, which, after all, is just an idea. Every now and then I will listen to them and think, what the F@#K was I thinking, so I just toss them in the trash. I’ve got scraps of paper, notebooks, and yellow legal pads filled with words just waiting to find a home. Some are so old I can’t remember when I wrote them, while others are more recent, and in some cases irrelevant. Those usually deal with some current event that’s not so current anymore. I’ve got a lot of those. But in there sometimes there’s a line or phrase that is more universal and so still usable. Some of my lyrics are dealing with very personal feelings that sometimes I look at and think, hmmm, do I really want to share this with the world? Once again though I can find a phrase or sentence that can make it more about life than just MY life.
I love writing about personal experiences, like “Down on the Farm”. That one came from an experience in Alaska that I will never forget, but also will never tell the whole story, even changing the names won’t protect the innocent, and besides, there is no one innocent in that song!!! “All That You Dream” is another that borders on a real-life experience. In that one’s case, I project into the future for the happy ending, a bit of poetic optimism that seems to ring true no matter what the circumstance.
My favorite lyrics are the ones that are just funny to me. I tend to write a lot of songs with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. They really have no message, or great insight into “why are we here?” they’re just funny and can mean so many different things. It’s amusing to me when someone comes up and says I know exactly what you’re talking about in that song. I usually ask them to please explain it to me since I haven’t a clue, and the stories are fantastic.
Let’s face it, a good song means something different to everyone. It hits a nerve that resonates for them and gives them some feeling or meaning that only they can feel. Those are the songs that I feel best about. When it’s all said and done, we should entertain, stir the imagination and impart emotion to those who listen to them.