Holiday Songs: ‘Tis the Season

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”

A Three-Stage Rocket to Lyric Writing

When NASA blasted a rocket into orbit, they did it in stages: The big lift-off, a second stage to get the payload into orbit and a third to fine tune the direction. So, what’s this got to do with writing lyrics? You can think of the lyric writing process in three stages:

  •  1. Getting started. (Lift off)
  •  2. Developing your idea. (Getting into orbit)
  •  3. Rewriting (Fine tune it)

Beginning the lyric writing process with a title can give you a central beacon that will keep your song lyric focused – very important if you want to keep listeners involved. Any short phrase you find emotionally intriguing – or simply an honest statement of how you feel – can work as a title. Make it something you want to write about.

Then make a list of questions the phrase suggests. These are the questions you’re going to answer in your song. Try questions like: What does this mean? Why do I need to say it? How does it feel? How did it happen?  What do I think the consequences will be? Every phrase suggests different questions. And every songwriter will find different ones to ask.  Continue reading “A Three-Stage Rocket to Lyric Writing”

Song Starter: Write a song about a place.

There have been many successful songs written about places: New York, Paris, San Francisco, Chicago, and foggy London town.  In these songs, the big city often provides a backdrop for a love affair or nostalgic memories.

But small towns and rural locales can also be inspiring. Jason Aldean’s “Tattoos on This Town” is a great example of a vivid lyric about growing up in a small town. Classics like “Blue Bayou” and “Rocky Mountain High” evoke the feeling of a place.

LYRIC STARTER: Think of a place that holds emotions or memories for you and write a song about it. Paint a picture so your listener can see and feel the place as you do. What is it you remember? What stands out? Why do you feel the way you do? Continue reading “Song Starter: Write a song about a place.”

Tip: Stockpile Ideas for Songs

Problem: You don’t have big chunks of time to spend on your songwriting. (Not many of us do.)  So when you finally do get an afternoon to work on your songs – or at least a couple of uninterrupted hours – you need to get the most  from it. You don’t need to be spending the first hour or two just trying to find an idea you want to work on.

Here’s a songwriting tip  that can help you avoid wasting hours! Continue reading “Tip: Stockpile Ideas for Songs”