There’s a difference

I became frustrated yesterday.

(I get frustrated a lot.)

When I become frustrated, I either realize something from it, or stay frustrated until I do. It’s a learning experience.

So anyway, as I was saying, I was frustrated yesterday. I was frustrated because I know I can write well (hence why you’re here reading this), and I was trying to write some lyrics. I mean, I’m not much of a singer, but lyrics are still words – and you know I love those. I’ve written about two full length “songs” but they just weren’t working for me. I just wasn’t feelin’ ’em.

If you’re a writer, you probably know what I’m talking about: the grammar is fine, the amount of syllables, the words, EVERYTHING is fine, but when you read it back to yourself again and again, over and overandoverandover, it ISN’T fine to you, no matter what anyone else says (“It looks fine.” “NO IT DOESN’T. What is wrong with me?!?!?!”). You pinpoint the area giving you trouble, switch words around, look for synonyms, try flipping entire paragraphs to achieve the flow you want because your spidey-writer sense is telling you something isn’t balanced. Reading it is like trying to walk with one shoe tied tighter than the other – doable, but to the sensitive person, extremely annoying.

As I was saying, that was happening to EVERYTHING I wrote. It was exactly what I wanted to say (and I have to say, for an amateur poet, quite good), but I didn’t like it. More and more frustrated I became until IT HIT ME. (cliche alert!!)

I realized that while lyrics and poetry are essentially the same, they are worlds apart to the deep and tireless thinker (moi). Poetry is pretty much someone elegantly spattering whatever words they feel are right on a page and making something beautiful. You can go by rules (rhyme, meter, etc.), or say “the heck with this!” and go free verse (a favorite of mine. Wonder why…). So, poetry is great, and inside that is lyrics.

On paper, lyrics just look like a poem. To the naked eye. Because, as I said, they essentially are. But (on par with my nature, I do a lot of contradicting, whether it be against my own self or other opinions, so bear with me), to the ear, they most definitely are something a little different. Unlike poetry, they are meant for listening. You can surely read poetry aloud, or you can read it to yourself. Silent reading doesn’t really work for a lot of lyrics (this doesn’t apply to every set of lyrics, obviously, but a good amount) because they are missing something – music. The music is part of the lyrics.

I tried putting music to my own lyrics, but I wasn’t feeling it, and I knew I never would. I may have written some nice poems, but there was one thing I had overlooked:

I am a writer by nature. An enthusiastic writer. Of stories. And that makes me exceptionally WORDY.

I was forgetting that the music helps portray the idea – I don’t need to be specific. I don’t need to include EVERYTHING I think of, that’s the music’s job, man!! Being vague is a song’s job!! I can steer people in the right direction of what I’m thinking, but the music is the sensation that really takes them there. Or, I could pull a trick, and lead them in two different directions. But most importantly, I’ve got to translate what’s in here *pounds chest and points to head* into a medium made for ears.

In conclusion, what I learned:

  • IT’S OKAY TO BE VAGUE. That is why I am also a writer – to get those words out.
  • Let the music do its job. Make music for the ears, not the eyes. It’s about the feeling not the genius synonym I came up with.
  • Lastly, please do not write what I think I should write: write what I want to write. The key is NOT to impress, but to express. (I take all credit for that fantastic line and will use it everywhere. I can’t believe I wrote that, that wasn’t even planned!! I am a pro rhymer. What uuuuuup.)
  • I’m a pretty good poet.
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3 thoughts on “There’s a difference

  1. Pingback: Check it | Music Brew

  2. I’ve encountered the same problem as you when trying to write lyrics–they look fine as poetry on paper, but when put to a melody and rhythm, they seem awkward and clumsy. I either need to write in complete, cohesive prose sentences, or express myself through free-form groups of words that are elegant and resounding (it’s as hard as it sounds, and definitely not my greatest talent). Songwriters have a fascinating ability, one that I’m quite envious of.

    • Thank you!! I’ve taken to coming up with the riff or melody first, and just making up the words as I play it. Surprisingly, the less sense I make, the better they sound!

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