Song Starter – Write a List Song

I love the theme song for The Big Bang Theory, written and performed by Bare Naked Ladies. It’s a “list song.” These songs are literally a list of images, ideas, facts, or related phrases. It has a catchy melody and is usually delivered at an energetic (but comfortable) pace.

List songs like this one have a long history in musical theater, from Gilbert and Sullivan to Disney animated feature films. You can still hear a form of the list song on Country hit radio. “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean is a good example and, if you’re a Country fan, I’m sure you can think of more.)

You’ll also hear this style in children’s songs, comedy/novelty songs, theme songs, and commercials. A great example of a list song in a commercial: Delta Faucet’s “Hands” ad.  Continue reading “Song Starter – Write a List Song”

Songs That Help Us Remember

Remembering the past is one of the things that binds us together. Several times a year we take a moment, an hour, or a day to recall significant events. They may be personal or part of the shared history of a nation.  Some are joyous, some impossibly sad.

How much help could a song be?
After the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, as we watched scenes of devastation, loss of life, and the strength of these people faced with such immense challenges, I suggested that songwriters express their feelings about what they were seeing through their art.  I wrote this on my Facebook page and was quickly criticized by someone who felt that this was self-indulgent, even useless. I wasn’t suggesting that writing a song should take the place of hard work or much needed donations. I was thinking of the long haul… I was thinking about remembrance, about never forgetting.

Today is a day of remembrance. We take time to think about the human cost and the courage of those who lost their lives in New York on September 11. Now, over a decade after those events, one of the things that brings those memories back for me with the most intensity is a song written by my friend Bridget St. John. The song is called “The Hole In Your Heart” and its expressive beauty never fails to recall the emotions of that day and the ones that followed. Bridget wrote it to express her own feelings but it speaks for many.  Continue reading “Songs That Help Us Remember”

Song Ideas: Use TV Scenes

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.

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.

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”