Unlike radio hits that burst on the scene then fade away, holiday songs have a long, long lifespan. Almost every major artist records at least one album of holiday songs. Sure they include the songs everyone knows and loves, but they need to sprinkle in a few potential new holiday hits, too. So, while the sights, sounds, and excitement of the season are all around., take the time to look and listen like a songwriter. Make a note of images, grab snippets of conversation. Be aware of your own feelings. Remember the holidays of your childhood. You’ll use all these ideas to make your song fresh and emotionally honest.
One of the biggest challenges of writing a holiday song is coming up with a new idea or approach. A generic holiday song with all the usual images isn’t hard to write but it will be hard to sell. It’s been done already…a lot!
Emotional themes: “White Christmas” is a such a classic and we’ve heard it so many times, it’s easy to miss the things that make it so great. The idea of yearning for the ideal Christmas of youth – the white Christmas of dreams – is a powerful, moving theme. What do you long for? What do you remember? Try writing a song about those feelings. Continue reading “Holiday Songs: ‘Tis the Season”
This Contemporary Country hit is an emotional powerhouse! Study this song for ideas on lyric imagery and an easy-to-use melody tip that will add a current , competitive edge to songs in all genres. I’ll walk you through this song step-by-step and show you how it’s all put together to create an unforgettable experience for the listener.
If you find yourself looking for new song ideas and inspiration, here’s a tip that works! Watch television. I know it might sound crazy but many TV scenes are built around common emotional situations the audience can relate to. That’s just what you want for your song.
CHOOSE A TV SHOW
Just about any drama series will provide you with plenty of good scenes. Look for emotional interaction between two characters. Watch the scene and note the dialogue – you might even write down a few lines to get your song started.
Comedy series are not as easy to use as drama but they will work. If you choose a sitcom, check out the last 5 to 10 minutes of the show when any conflicts or problems are wrapped up and there’s often a heartfelt moment between characters.
Soaps operas, yes, good old-fashioned afternoon soaps, are a good source if you can manage to watch. (There aren’t many left.) They’re slow moving and nothing much happens but that’s because everyone is busy emoting all over the place. There’s enough emotional confrontation, regret, tearful forgiveness, and joyful reunions to fill a couple hundred songs!
Action series are fun to watch but chase scenes and shootouts won’t give you much to work with. Like comedy series, the emotion is usually in the last few scenes.
News shows: News shows are filled with emotionally intense drama that just happens to be real. Talk shows and interviews can also be a source. There’s a great story behind the song “I Drive Your Truck.” One of the writers saw an interview on a news show and was inspired to write the song.
A FEW SONG IDEAS FROM TV
Use my article How to Write a Song in 10 Steps to complete any of the following ideas.
SHOW: Classic Perry Mason TV series
Theme: Be Strong
Concept: You have the strength to meet the challenge. Those who love you will help.
- “I know things look tough.”
- “You’re carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders.”
- “Let me help you.”
Continue reading “Song Ideas: Use TV Scenes”
Question from a songwriter: “I have trouble coming up with the first line of a song. I try not to write the first line as something obvious and cliche but I can’t seem to figure out how to keep it from being too vague.”
Answer: A strong opening for your song is essential – it may make the difference between keeping a listener tuned in or losing them. You’re right about not wanting to be vague! Here are a few ideas…
1) After you have a first draft of your song, check to see whether your second verse is stronger than your first. This can happen as you get deeper into the song and know more about what you want to say. Try opening with your second verse and writing a new one to replace it.
2) If the song is addressed to “you,” what is the one big, emotional statement you want to make to that person? Try starting with that if you’re not using it somewhere else in the song. If you are already using it, try backing up a step and imagine the line that would come just BEFORE you said that. Continue reading “Lyrics: Write a Strong Opening”