One of the first things I emphasise when I talk about writing song lyrics is that you need to know your purpose. Both musically and personally. What genre? What territory? What do you want the listener to feel and how is the lyric best communicated to evoke or provoke that feeling?
Jonathan Whiskers, an award-winning songwriter and experienced recording artist who has worked with the likes of Joshua Blair (Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars) and more, puts it this way: “Before thinking about structure, I feel it’s important to think about your intention. Spend some time working out why you’re writing the song: why does it need to exist and what are you hoping to communicate? Once you have decided on your creative intention and splurged some of your ideas, then you can think about how to organise them. Stephen Sondheim, the musical theatre writer, talks a lot about how content should dictate form, not the other way round. This really resonates with me as I think it’s a very authentic way of writing: decide what you want to achieve and use song craft to suit your own creative needs.”
In my experience, both Craft and Art are expressions you can master and although the approach is very different, they both require time, more than anything time, to be mastered well. At the core of it, it’s not that different from mastering a musicians instrument or a painters brush. The best way of learning is by doing. It will make you curious. It will drive you to explore. It will inspire you to keep trying to better yourself.
Artist & Multi Platinum Songwriter and Producer