Hal David, one of the greatest lyricists of all time, always believed it was essential for writers to stay as objective as possible about their lyrics. He stressed the importance of being able to step outside of yourself and hear the song from the listener’s point of view.
“One thing a lyricist must learn is not to fall in love with his own lines,” David once remarked. “Once you learn that, you can walk away from the lyric and look at it with a reasonable degree of objectivity.”
A common mistake among many new lyricists is their failure to take a step back and recognize when they are using over-elaborate imagery and ‘poetic’ lyrics that just don’t work with the song. Far from being impressed with how clever and creative the lyricist is, music publishers and A&R executives are more likely to see unnecessarily flowery language as a sign of inexperience.
Trying too hard to be ‘different’ and artistic can often result in lyrics that simply sound pretentious and self-indulgent. If your lyrics don’t come across as genuine, listeners may find it hard to connect with your song.
And some lyricists may not realize that they are in danger of boring listeners by simply pouring out fact after fact as they tell the song’s story. You have to paint a picture in the listener’s imagination so that you can reach him or her on an emotional level and stimulate a response.
To make it easier for listeners to remember your lyrics, it’s important to keep them simple and conversational. Hal David was a master at conveying what he wanted to say in the most concise way possible, despite the complexity of some of Burt Bacharach’s melodies.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Bacharach and David wrote some of the most enduring pop songs of all time. Their classic hits included ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’, ‘This Guy’s in Love with You’, ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’, ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose’, ‘Walk On By’, ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love’, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’, ‘The Look of Love’, and ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, amongst many others.
“In writing, I search for believability, simplicity and emotional impact,” Hal David once explained. “Simplicity is often the hardest thing to achieve.”
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“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a paperback, or as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.