line is the memorable lyric that gets stuck in your
head. It's usually the songs title and is in
Color song title
They create images
in your mind instead of abstractions.
everything. Does an object have a
certain colors suggest moods in
For example: a
black tuxedo instead of a
red or white one.
Look up "color words"
. Find a color that sounds
pleasing to the ear. Does it
suggest a hook line?
out the idiom
associated with color
envy, naivety, sickness, nature, money
sadness, freedom, lust, cool temperatures
= femininity, sexuality, youth
= sick, death, secretive,
= anger, passion, lust, hot,
= royalty, gay
= good, pure, virginal,
cold, light Yellow
cheerful, summery, innocent,
Expand on these, or
sad has been used a lot. It might be too
Write down ideas for
each color. Let them flow without
interruption. Incubate and let the ideas develop at
City, state or country title
It's specific and memorable. Do
you have happy memories of a place? What's good about
the person (in the song) experiencing
they represent an archetype? (a waitress, lawyer,
they have bad memories of this place? What
Do they want to go to the location? Or go back to the location? What's
special about this location?
Choose a plot.
Some places automatically have
stories attached to them? What's
the vibe of the location?
pick a place that has a cool name.
"Nantucket nights" "Terror in Tehran"
"Siberian sweeties sound so sweet"
audience might not understand.
Biggest World Cities
Popular States (tourism)
search by continent
Day, month or number
hook lines are specific
what does it represent?
= holy day, rest, football, big
= back to work blues,
= hump day (middle of
the work week)
= Start of the weekend
(for college kids)
= Parties, clubs, watch
TV at home
with your children (responsibility?), end of the work week
Make up your own.
what does the month suggest?
r = My
birthday (getting old), the air is getting colder, gray skies, February
too cold to leave the house, the pipes freeze, hockey playoffs August
too hot to leave the house, the AC fails,
the kids have summer break from school
is perfect, farmers harvest their crops, it's the end of summerDecember
madness. I'm broke.January
= The new year and starting
4 = My lucky number
6 = Percent
of people who beat a crystal meth
2 = Just me
300 million =
United States population rounded down
statistics, ID's, license plates, ages, birth dates, time, flights or
down whatever comes to mind.
Alliteration works well:
Fridays Frozen February
Sexy at seventy
Female name title
Praise the woman, criticize
do both. What's your relationship to the woman? What issue are you
relationship advice and womens
Three of the most
broken, bulletproof, weak, bloody, foolish, lonely, fiery, frozen, warm
Partying, sexuality, youth,
working nights, worrying nights, dancing
started as many titles as love. If
can express many attitudes:
ideas are everywhere. Find them in newspapers, on billboards
tv commercials, etc.
Book titles are meant to be memorable.
I just spent 5 minutes
and found "The Agony and the Ecstasy"
(a White Zombie song)
by subject (huge list)
books from each
year since 1900
thrusts your characters
into the action,
the debate, the problem or emotion. "And" songs are rare
"And heres to you Mr's Robinson"
"And that's why they call it
"Ands" are everywhere.
Anytime you read "and"
see if the words that follow it spark your imagination.
Write a couple "and" lines
for every song. You don't have
to use them.
High Cost of Low Living"
Ain't Nothin But a Hound
guitar gently weeps"
be a Lady Tonight"
But a 'G' Thang"
are opposite words
They're a preffered strategy for advertisers. Antonyms
- words that
are also the opposite of themselves!
Idioms and Proverbs
"Take it or leave it"
nuts about you"
Self evident truths
count your chickens before they're hatched"
"Look before you leap"
Paragrams are altered
idioms or proverbs
These song titles tend
to stick in your memory. "I've
friends in low places."
sight = "Love
The high cost of living
= "The high cost of loving
Heart, Night, If, Love, And, etc.
an antonym to replace a
search for antonyms
what sounds right.
subject Proverbs Idioms
sayings Cowboy truths
for country I
metaphor implies similarity
A metaphor makes a direct
"All the world's a stage"
A simile compares things using
the words "like" or "as"
"All the world is like
is on the rocks."
Road or Journey
= a rose
an empty gas tank Flirting
= tree shaking
= rose thorns Death
= candle in the
= a wall
= burdens Relationships
and put an = sign after it. Brainstorm and come
up with visual images:
. Replace burdens
with load stones
"Trouble = loadstones"
can use the
word "Trouble" or switch it to an image or concept of trouble. "Your love is a load
Try to understand one thing
in terms of another
A mixed metaphor
results when you mix unrelated concepts:
"If you play your cards
right, you'll hit the bulls eye." This implies that a
target shooting. Nope.
sure your metaphor passes the reality check. "My heart is
frozen in the snow" No it's not.
Try using a simile
"My heart is frozen like
the snow." Use
it if it sounds right. Don't over-analyze too much.
These include sayings
Choose a subject for comparison, and then try to find a
single word that modifies it.
A subject list with abstract ideas: smile, lover, heart, night, memory,
A modifier list containing images that convey
fast "Rock" = hard or sturdy
or "Lightning lover"
robbing you of
"The sun smiled on my face."
good for serious themes and social statements.
human: "The wind cried Mary
becomes the thing personified: "I'm
the train they
concept or object
A hard road = hardships = "Grumblin' shoes
and wailin' feet
Guns = War,
gangs, suicide = sorrow, regret, revenge = "Lead Tears
from a .45"
a sentance describing the
point you want to make. What feelings are involved?
School, Jail, World Trade Center, White House
Golden Gate, Mackinaw, London
St. Louis Arch, Statue of Liberty, Lincoln Memorial
Center = tragedy, terrorism, building 7 mystery
Liberty = patriotic, freedom, Ishtar
= violence, boredom
person, place or
thing is addressed as if it will answer
This provides a
fresh approach to familiar subjects. It's a
address difficult themes not easily treatable by the 1st, 2nd or 3rd
who "You" is referring to.
Keep it consistent throughout the lyric.
for me Argentina"
"Vincent" (or an absent
"Time don't run out on me"
subjects and brainstorm them. Attributes
for the subjects include: praising, critical, outraged,
disappointed, loving, dependable.
give the subject a quality it doesn't posses. Clouds
not puffs of smoke.
for the whole or a whole for
food is McDonald's"
Raw material for finished product:
"You look great in silk"
Trade name for generic product
"Give me a
for the whole term
"Gimme some T.L.C."
The most common
is "place for an event" where the place becomes an
adjective. "Gettysburg address" or "Persian Gulf
a series of parts for the whole:
"Bobby and Jackie and Jack" (Kennedy's)
subject like "exercise" with examples:
Weight lifts, rowing, stretching, throwing
useful as a lyrical treatment than as a design device.
current works and find places to employ this strategy.
something with an attribute or symbol
place of cause
place of subject
Subject in place of
to the grave"
Birth and death Symbol in place of
Time and work Symbol in place of
mightier than the
sword." Literature and combat
in place of effect
"The face cream that erases years
in place of owner "A
sharkskin suit (person) is coming
up the street."
in place of the controlled "Bernstein (the orchestra)
gave a great
Location in place of industry "Detroit (the auto
industry) is making profits"
in place of the contained "Lets have a
brown bag (food inside)
Creator in place of the creation
"You've got a
poet (poetry book) in your pocket"
substitutes a harsh one
"He died" = "The
angels took him home"
This can be
effective for handling sexual matters.
Replace an abstract idea with a symbol of it.
"Taking an interest in my
in bed" = "Extra blankets for the
characters act out their emotional states with their
proper name for a subject, object or emotion.
It's a comparison
that can be defined as "one that, one who, those which, that which," etc.
Effect in place of cause
The price is too high
Effect in place of cause
The flight is short
"moment" can be effective for this. Maalox
device allows you to group people with habitual
= worker "Number
cruncher" = analyst
"Second hand rose"
image is used
in both a literal
and figurative way.
Rain = rain and trouble
the roses" (enjoy life's little things)
and dance" (face life with courage)
Words that sound the the same but have different
spelling (Rome, roam)
the tracks, train an employee).
a word or phrase expresses two different
"On the other hand"
hand the singer is
attracted to someone, but on the other hand is his wedding
repeat a key word with different
"Make time for
"What's good about goodbye?"
"A ring where a ring used to be."
list of homophones. Expand one into a fun
(whatever comes to mind).
your meanings are understandable and appropriate to the
of the meanings is crude or sexual.
Sequential pun plots
meaning of the pun is delayed until the end of the song.
are you so mean to me? Don't you know
what you mean to me?
a verb in
different ways to link dissimilar ideas.
"I held my breath when you held the door for me."
contradictory words for ironic emphasis.
"Make haste slowly"
sounds of silence"
"Killing me softly"
word to maintain perfect rhyme or regulate the
Make a noun into a verb
"They stonewalled my idea"
Turn something into a noun
whipped out his ego"
"Usually" (4 syllables) "u-sha-ly" (3 syllables)
"yoosh-ly" (2 syllables)
Force the word to rhyme "Boy
(portmanteau) Mix two words to make another. Smoke and fog = smog
Make a new word using the first letter of other
Make up meaningless words "I am the
I am the walrus, Goo Goo Goo Chube."
Add prefixes or suffixes to change word meanings
"disgruntled, disheveled and uncouth"
"gruntled, sheveled, and couth.
Make new words using
Jesus, Ghandi, Casanova, Lillith, Hercules etc.
God, saint, healer, master, womanizer, Goddess,
strong man, psycopath, etc.
Try to make words that embody both the name and the
characteristic, or that allow you to define the characteristic.
notable = a "Cassanotable" reputation.
"How is this love?"
"Post office buddy"
"If you're reading this"
"She works hard for the money"
"Anything you can do I can do better"
peoples attention fast.
The word "sex" is the
only word that works better.
lyrics don't supply an answer (or expect one) but some want to be
resolved. Decide which applies.
Who, what, where, when, why, do, how, have, will, can, would
thing called love" "Where have all the
is asked at the start of the song and is answered at the end.
"Who stole my heart anyway? No one but you"
who I saw today? You!" (The woman who finds her
husband out on a date)
" is the best example of a phone call song.
Listening to one side of a phone call moves a plot forward and reveals character aspects.
good for telling people off or thanking them. It's more
a letter plot.
of phone relationships:
Secretary - wife
Police - hostage
plot. Decide who's talking. Every word should
like it's being spoken.
audience know that it's overhearing a phone
call. You don't want to confuse them.
You can use the
singers reaction to suggest what's being said on the other end of the
note left behind) makes the message more
effective and the song more memorable.
The letter has more plot
possibilities than the phone call.
works for plots that are difficult to address like child abuse or
have a plot
Make a list of people you'd send a letter to and
Make a list of conceptual groups of people you'd send a
letter to: "thieves, taxi drivers, doctors, government
Make a list of concerns that you have, and then list the people you'd
for each one.
with "Dear _____, " ends with a closing "warm regards," (or
something similar) and maybe has a P.S.
P.S. is the most powerful moment in the song.
with a setting is more distinctive and memorable.
happening right now.
action happened in
have a plot idea:
the potential settings that spring to mind. What person
in each setting is telling the story? Pick the best one.
opening line should identify the "Who, What, Where."
"On a train going
nowhere, I met a gamblin' man"
the listener into the scene. Lyrics that describe images are
setting can stay in one place, change, or keep moving (in
the setting changes, write a transitional line to inform the listener.
vehicle is an underused strategy.
the past situation behind (wistfully, reluctantly or
towards a future destination (anxiously or eagerly)
pop songs are in first or second person.
Third person is less
common, and thus more interesting. It's also very effective
song subjects that are difficult to handle in first person.
The singer of the third person song is NOT the
character in the story.
Singers like each other.
Singers dislike each other.
scenario that gives them a reason for the conversation (attraction,
Think of a song title.
they like each other:
lines for the two singers. Which lines are sung separately
they dislike each
your characters criticize each other, contradict and interrupt each
"It's getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes"
"We've only just begun"
"How am I supposed to live without you?"
"Love will lead you back"
caring, understanding and
desire and lust.
tone varies from playful and subtle to blunt and vulgar. Keep
it consistent throughout the lyric.
subject in songwriting.
can be: sought,
found, lost, strayed, stolen, regretted, revived, regained, tragic,
Emotions range from tension and
conflict for the cheaters to anguish for the injured spouse.
guilty husband ending an affair.
wife speaking to the mistress.
bartender surveying the pickup scene.
you write the song from the cheaters perspective, make the
They could admit to having feelings
of conflict and guilt.
you write it in third
person avoid being preachy. Show the effects of cheating and
hurt it causes others.
You can try using the viewpoint of an onlooker; a waiter in a
cafe of the desk clerk
Try a telephone
calls her husbands secretary, or the
wife answers the phone when the mistress calls.
lost that lovin'
am I supposed to live
"Baby come back"
The time frame,
setting, motivations and emotions are often unclear.
does the singer feel?
alone? If people are together, who are they? Where
thinking or talking?
You don't have
to include the answers in the lyric, but you should know them
someday, we'll get back together again. This song plot requires a clear scenario.
Why did the
characters separate in the
someone cheating? Were
they too young? Career issues? Parent
viewpoint, (you) is the most effective.
the singer thinking the words or
This also works well as a duet.
Parent & Child
"Cat's in the cradle"
"I get by with
a little help from my friends"
Song, music, dance
of the night"
"Candle in the wind"
(Princess Dianna, Marilyn Monroe)
"We are the world"
"Climb every mountain"
Appreciation for good parenting. Regret
for a flawed relationship. Anxiety
over impending parenthood.
strategies such as Apostrophe
viewpoint), the Letter
, or the Phone
is a basic human need.
a "thinking out loud" lyric.
the collective consciousness.
about what you believe in.
Beauty lies within.
It's not what
you say, it's what you do.
others the way you want to be treated.
Don't forget your goals.
more than you planned to.
Love yourself first.
Enjoy today, tomorrow may never come.
Practice makes perfect.
Share your appreciation of friendship with a duet.
playful, heartfelt, appreciative, loving, angry, abusive
that the characters are "lovers" rather than friends, unless that's
what you want.
Consider the feelings you've never expressed. What would you do for
music and dance
words often appear symbolically in lyrics.
heard that song and dance before" = I've heard it all before,
don't lie to me.
your own kind of music" = Be your own person
you want to dance" = Do you want to have sex?
in the dark" = Facing life's uncertainties
concepts can also be literal, representing musics charm, romance and
"I love a piano"
"Song sung blue"
musicians: "Piano man"
it's a coffee
break or carnival cruise. It's a universal desire.
Reality is what you perceive. Real is what you make real.
way you hope it would be (if your lucky)
The way you imagine it would be (but it's highly unlikely)
A fanciful notion that's impossible
are accepted patterns in the way we describe the world.
Wolf = evil Dog =
faithful Snake = trickery Owl = Goddess
= purity Blue = sad
braggart, the wanderer, the know it
all, the businessman, the waiting woman, etc.
Beauty = value
Arriving in the city
parenthood, old age, unemployed
people often embody archetypes.
These images can add charm
and memorability to a song.
= Freemason who created the UN and the man who owns the federal reserve.
Monroe = Sex appeal
famous people have impacted your life?
Should you praise
them or criticize them?
famous enough? People need to understand the
viewpoint works well (you), but any
viewpoint is valid.
of social commentary or we're screwed. Get on it.
wistful, critical, outraged,
"I watch TV... I get
lot. I try to put that in a
-Hank Williams, Jr.
provide hope and inspiration. Audiences love a character
that is struggling to overcome.
"If I'm doing my job
help people hold onto their own humanity"
These songs use terms like "you, you're, you'll, or we."
a new trend in Christian music that has been popularized by
YES FM. It's called the subtle influence
People in need of the most love
and spiritual help are the same people that won't listen to positive
music. Bands like 21 Pilots invoke a positive mood without
preachy. Nobody wants to hear "you're going to hell," but they
will listen to songs that tell them they're loved and
special. There's a demand for positive
music in the world.
be successful if you promote positive energy and good
It's as simple as that. Understand the spirit energy in this
some is very positive and some is very negative.
Focus on uplifting:
2. The people around you
3. The world
If you do that, you'll be successful as a musician and every door will
open. If you're reading this, it's for a
reason. You have a
to make positive music and influence peoples lives. You
it. Keep the spirit of love inside your heart and do what's best for your fans and the earth.