I Write the Songs

Hello everybody. A miracle is about to happen … Someone’s finally updating her blog!!!

My topic of choice for today is one of my great loves: music. And some of what I have to say here also relates to Christian contemporary/gospel music, but could apply to any type, I think.

By the title you might have deduced that I am a songwriter. Do I write the songs? Hell, no. Or at least let me say that I have tried, but have produced nothing I’m prepared to let anyone hear. This blog post is about writing songs, though – about my opinions about what makes a good song good, focusing on lyrics. I say opinions, because I am no songwriting expert.

This last week I had to learn a song to sing in church on Sunday. It’s a fairly modern song, but for the sake of not running the risk of slandering anyone, I will not mention it. I liked the song, it had a great rhythm, a nice funky beat, but the words were all choppy. Half-sentences placed next to each other, with no thread. To me it felt like the song had no purpose, and did not inspire me to do anything. Words felt like they were thrown together on a page, strung together to fit into a tune. This got me thinking about what I like in a good lyric.

The song I referred to is not the first modern gospel song that has made me react that way. I’m not picking on anyone in particular, I’m just mentioning a trend that I don’t like, and which I see happening more and more. I know this doesn’t happen only in gospel music, but it is the most disturbing to me when I hear it there.

To me it feels like music is being churned together, and the focus is not on making good music, but selling CD’s, making cool music to keep people listening to the nothingness that is assailing our ears of late. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily entirely wrong – we all have to make a living. Note also that I am generalizing here. There are still people making good music today. 

Here are my opinions on what a good song’s lyrics should have.

Firstly, like with anything else, whether it be a good book, a good speech, or anything good you can think of, the most important thing it must have is a purpose. You must at least have something to say. Note: Purpose doesn’t mean you have to be super-serious. To make a dance song, my purpose would be to make a song where the lyrics and beat would make you itch to get onto the floor. For a love-song, my purpose would either be to declare my love for someone, tell him that I miss him and want him back, etc. Even if you write a silly song, you must have a purpose: to write a silly song. One of my favourite silly songs is this one from Eiffel 65. Do you still remember this one?

In songs of a religious nature, purpose is even more poignant. It is my conviction that if you are a Christian, you should have something to say, a song to sing, because the Song is in you. If you are writing Christian music, and have nothing to say, then don’t write – pray. But yes, there are days where we feel down in the dumps, and you don’t have a song to sing. Even therein lies a song. Here’s an example:

Compare these two songs from the same CD, and listen to the words. Then tell me which one had the clearest detectable purpose.

The next thing I think a lyric should have is to have a logical train of thought – that is, unless your song is purposefully illogical.  If you’ve worked out your purpose, the logical train of thought should follow. You must take me, your hearer, with you on the journey that led you to write this masterpiece.

Following on from that, the song needs to inspire or move me to do something, whether it is to cuddle up with my boyfriend, dance till my feet fall off, or at least think about what you’re trying to convey.

These are my mundane (and sometimes brutally honest) opinions on what a good song should contain. Let’s go write the songs that make the whole world sing.

Leave a comment please :-)