Writing Lyrics #

I want to start writing lyrics, but it’s not coming naturally to me.

One of the things I definitely am doing when I think about writing lyrics is that I try and really think about what the song is “really” about. However, I don’t think that that’s important or nessecary? I really like coming up with these turns of phrase that are appealing in some way, even if I haven’t figured out what exactly it means.

As a matter of fact, tons of lyrics are like this, where they have a sharp appeal without meaning something clear and deliberate. While I think cohesiveness is valuable, i think this pop-iness is also valuable.

There’s a handful of tricks for this that high school english teaches like rhyme and alliteration, but these things are a little simple and boring.

An idea that I have that’s a lot more fun is playing with the latent connotations of words. It’s pretty easy to say something like, “Oh, think of a random word and then think of another word that juxtaposes that word”. There’s a lot of directions in which you can juxtapose, and I think thinking of more unconventional ways to juxtapose them lead to more interesting results. If we start with the world “Ocean”, a shallow juxtaposition might be like “Burning ocean”. A more interesting juxtaposition might be something like “Sky Ocean”, which subverts the expectation that an ocean is on the ground, or “Ocean Walls”, which subverts the expectation that an ocean is a liquid, flexible thing, or “Oceans Within”, which subverts the expectation that an ocean is a vast external thing.

I think you can probably get better and/or more interesting concepts by subverting sentiments or relationships. A cliche version of this is something like “Sweet Pain”, which subverts the idea that pain is bad. besides the topic, there’s a few additional reasons this isn’t ideal.

For one, simplifying things down to “good” and “bad” is very simple and unnuanced. A phrase like “sweet pain” doesn’t connect the two at all beyond one being good and the other being bad.

furthermore, the relationship between the two isn’t fleshed out at all. there’s many ways to connect the two. Someone might be saying that all pain is sweet to them, or that the sweetness of some situations is worth the pain, or that pain that comes with sweetness is more dangerous. being able to strike a more specific feeling can do a lot to make words more compelling

Another factor is combining two generic words. Both “sweet” and “pain” could refer to so many high level things. A series of concrete things works much better. this encourages people to puzzle out how things are connected. it allows you to connect many different aspects of those things together.

Given these, it’s possible to come up with a ton of different ways to say the same things