As the Republican National Convention hobbles along defiling and raping the nation’s ears and sensibilities, I offer a respite in the form of another installment of Bread Crumbs from the Void. My special recipe for bi-weekly goodness contains no additives, preservatives, or politically charged bullshit – unless, of course you consider politically incorrect content. There is a metric shit ton of that ingredient!
Unlike other self-aggrandizing douchebag loons I will never use any of my creative platforms to voice a decidedly narrow-minded political viewpoint. An online comments section has proven time and time again to be little more than an intellectual abyss where thoughtful and informed debate goes to die. I, for one, will not invite two diametrically and unyieldingly opposed points of view to my shindig where they can have the opportunity to shout at each other in the dark whilst hiding behind the anonymity of an online handle.
Fuck that noise.
My articles, comics, stories, etc. are for entertainment purposes and meant for anyone who wants to enjoy them. If you are someone who needs to lambaste a person who disagrees with you simply to prove your little pee-pee can still get hard I do not want to be around you. If you have a problem getting on board, then there’s the (virtual) door. Get the fuck out.
That said, I am about to crank this sumbitch up to eleven because it is time to talk about songwriting!
From the Whores’ Mouth
Musicians and songwriters are sluts. Some of my favorite people are in bands, so I am in no fashion disparaging their extracurricular activities. They deserve the smorgasbord of genitals offered to them on a nightly basis. They produce brilliant, evocative, gut-wrenching art garnering the accolades and wet crotches.
Being a whore is a necessity in their line of work. Aside from fucking anything that moves, they must pimp themselves and their music to allow adoring fans, record labels, managers, etc. access to their talents. In turn they are (hopefully) granted fruitful careers.
They are still whores. I’m going to sit this dance out and let a few of my favorite whores give you a little insight into their own creative songwriting process. I would not want to step on any toes and, more importantly, unlike me they actually know what they are talking about… Mostly.
Jaime Mora (La Creacion, http://lacreacionmusic.com/)
Whenever I sit with pen in hand, notebook and whiskey on the rocks, hunched over my guitar ready to write a song, I recall a conversation I had several years back when I started my endeavor into conveying my chicken scratch to melody. “Jaime, how do you write a song? What is your method?” she asked me. To be honest I had never really thought of “how” I write a song. Shit, I was just as lost as her. After a few seconds of thinking of what made me want to write I replied with a question of my own, “If you only had three minutes to express everything you ever wanted to say to someone, to the world, what would you say?” She looked at me strangely and said “Wow, ummm, I’m not sure. That sounds impossible.” I chuckled and answered, “Well that’s how I write, I suppose, and I do it over and over again hoping to make the impossible probable.” I forget the rest, I assume I got drunk soon after that, but that has stayed with me and my mind set when I pick up my six string ready to put chords to my words.
Over the years I have learned various ways of song writing. The most common is you pick a topic, set some generic chords, look for everyday words and make sure they have a hook somewhere. A very fucking commercialized and monotonous form of pumping out music for the masses that only seem to want the next single spoon fed to them. Don’t get me wrong, as being someone in the industry I have had my fair share of taking part of such projects, but I still always keep in mind my method. I’m a self-taught musician so I don’t know much about theory or much about the different scales, so I don’t get into any of that. I strum a few chords; find something that sounds right for me. Maybe write down the first words that come to me along with the resonance of the strings. I write everything down, whether I want to keep it or not it gets put down on paper, post-it, or used up tissue. Remember you want to say everything, so now is your chance. Go for it. After a while you trim the fat, sip some whiskey, regroup your thoughts and you start seeing the words come together. You start hearing the song come together. This is the part where you have to set the time limit for it. For airplay on most radio stations the standard time is an average of about 3 minutes and it’s a good rule of thumb to follow and set your music as such, because after all is said and done, all the work you put into your creation, you only get 3 minutes to convey it to the world.
Juan Pablo de Anda (https://m.soundcloud.com/juan-pablo-de-anda-munoz)
In my opinion, All musicians have a sixth sense that not everyone has but I we can’t explain it, it’s a feeling that you know when it’s the right time to start writing a song. Some days are better than others, you can spend 5 hours trying to write a song and only 1 verse came out of those 5 hours or you can spend 5 minutes and write one of your best songs. In my experience my songs have come out right after a situation I experienced either good or bad, those are the moments where I feel super inspired and lyrics, music and melody come out easily and beautifully. The process I use to write my songs it’s simple, first I think of the meaning and point of the song and then I start messing around with my guitar or piano to find a good set of chords that accommodate the feeling I want to express through that song, after I find those chords, I play them for a while until a melody comes to my head. After I have the melody of the song, that’s when the writing process begins. To me, lyrics should accommodate to the music and not the other way around because music is what’s going make you feel, you can say “I love you” on a pop song or you can say I love you on a trash metal song n feel completely different. So the writing process is the last step I take to finish up a song. A lot of people have asked me how do I come up with the songs? And my answer is, “the 6th sense God gave musicians to cheer up this trip on earth”.
Writing lyrics is the last step I take before finishing up a song. I always try to have different structures on my lyrics. Usually a song begins with a verse but sometimes I like starting a song with the chorus. It all depends on the meaning of the song I guess. My process is simple: on my verses I try to explain everything that’s behind the main point of the song. Choruses on my songs I try to make them catchy. Lyrics on a chorus have to be short and of course they have to rhyme. That’s what people are going to remember and sing along on concerts. My structure normally is Intro, verse 1, verse 2, pre chorus, chorus, solo, verse3, chorus and outro. I think it’s just a standard structure on writing a song but we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. I like people to think to understand my lyrics, I don’t want them to listen to them and get bored. That’s why I try to write metaphors so they can accommodate my lyrics however it’s convenient to them.
Randy Dowdy (Hate For State, https://www.reverbnation.com/hateforstate)
My song writing process usually goes 1 of 2 ways. Sometimes I write lyrics with a general idea of what chord progression I plan to use then I will sit down with my bass and put the 2 together. When writing with “Hate For State” sometimes we will come up with a song or chord progression and after all the changes are worked out, we record it, then I record myself humming a melody over the top of it. I’ll play that back and come up with lyrics that fit that vocal melody. When it comes to subject or theme of the lyrics, sometimes I use current world events for inspiration, daily life drama that everyone can relate to, my own personal experiences and stories from others.
The Break Down
Writing song lyrics can not only be difficult and frustrating, but also dangerous. You need to walk a tight rope between being genuine and being clever. You want to take readers on a spiritual journey while still telling a concise story. To a degree you can think of it as euphonious micro fiction set to a backing track. That said, writing lyrics are a completely different animal than tackling a short story or a poem.
Some of the same rules apply though.
The temptation to dip into the platitudes and showcase your pseudo profundities may be difficult to shake. Trust me when I say listeners would much rather have lyrics which are relatable and do not come off as pontifications from the asshole of some disingenuous cock-snot. Lyrics should not be something that requires a protractor or text book to decipher (yeah, I am looking at you Rush!).
Have a specific subject — or target if you aim to work out some aggression — in mind and do not stray too far from the path. Bring in your personal experience and say what only you can say. Most importantly remember that great writing is rewriting. This principle goes triple or quadruple for songwriting considering the finite space you have to express your idea. If you are ever satisfied with your first draft, I can guarantee you that it sucks sweaty donkey balls.
If you would like to hear me elaborate a bit more on my own process, you can find links to a couple of interviews conducted recently with me on my website at: https://alexschumacherart.com/about/. Drop me a line from the contact page if you have any other questions, complaints, or declarations of lust.
Feel free to holler at my good pals Jaime and JP if you have any further questions on lyrics as well.
Bread Crumbs from the Void will return in two weeks, when I spring head first into the brick wall of writing scripts. Until next time, keep scribbling you freaks.