American singer-songwriter and award-winning country star Brad Paisley believes songwriters should always think of the images their words will create in listeners’ minds when they’re working on new songs and writing lyrics.
“My idea of country music is always about the pictures it paints for you,” triple Grammy Award winner Paisley recently told ABC News Radio. “I don’t like songs that don’t give me images in my mind.”
Paisley—who has sold over 12 million albums and has won 28 country music awards—says the same ‘visual’ approach to songwriting should also be applied to pop and rock songs. He points to The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ as a great example. “I don’t know totally what that song’s about, but you know, ‘On a dark desert highway’, you know, it’s just…you see everything they’re sayin’.”
Choosing words that paint a picture in the listener’s imagination is also important because it will enable you to reach him or her on an emotional level … and make them feel what you’re feeling.
This aspect of the craft of successful songwriting is a major challenge because you have to skilfully use powerful devices such as metaphor, simile, personification and rhyme within the constraints of a clearly defined song structure and rhythm. And you only have three minutes or so in which to get some vivid colours onto your lyrical canvas to captivate the listener.
That’s why many top writers’ lyrical language is often simpler and more down to earth—with short descriptive phrases that are easily understood and can therefore immediately connect with the listener.
Joni Mitchell is another singer-songwriter who has always taken a highly visual approach to songwriting: “My style of songwriting is influenced by cinema,” she once remarked. “I’m a frustrated filmmaker… It’s very visual. You’re scoring the actress, but the actress is singing the lines and trying to get them as conversational as film.”
Joni added: “A fan once said to me, ‘Girl, you make me see pictures in my head!’ and I took that as a great compliment. That’s exactly my intention.”
“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.
“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE SONGS IN THE STREAMING AGE – 40 MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT TO GET MORE STREAMS” - This book shows how the dominance of music streaming is having a profound impact on songwriting and the structure of songs. Songs that connect in the streaming world are no longer the same as songs that work on traditional media, like radio. Successful streaming now requires a different type of song. This means songwriters who want more plays on streaming platforms need to rethink their songwriting approach in order to meet the specific needs of streaming audiences. This book aims to provide a better understanding of the new building blocks of song structure in the streaming age. It examines essential elements found in the construction, melodies and lyrics of the biggest streaming hits – and highlights the most common errors made when these key components are built into a song. To help new songwriters avoid such mistakes in their own songs, the book provides 40 insightful tips and a comprehensive Checklist for creating more streaming-friendly songs. The book is now available from Amazon as a paperback and eBook, and also from leading eBook retailers like Apple Books, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.
‘HOW (NOT) TO WRITE A HIT SONG! – 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS’
With a 5-star rating at Amazon, this book takes a close look at the essential elements that are consistently found in the structure, melodies and lyrics of all hit songs.
It highlights the most common errors that are made when these key components are built into a song, so that new writers can try to avoid such mistakes in their own songs.
Most writers have had to endure the disappointment of having their songs rejected, and ended up asking: “Could I have done more to make my songs better?”.
“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song!” aims to help writers recognize weaknesses in their songs, so they can re-work them, make them stronger, and hopefully achieve the breakthrough they’re striving for.
The book includes a detailed checklist of 101 common mistakes that writers can measure their own songs against.
“HOW (NOT) TO WRITE GREAT LYRICS! 40 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN WRITING LYRICS FOR YOUR SONGS”
The 40 most common lyric writing mistakes are exposed in this new book by experienced music publisher and music consultant Brian Oliver.
Written in an easy, non-technical style, the book identifies the most frequent causes of lyric writing problems and aims to help aspiring songwriters steer clear of the many traps that they can easily fall into when writing lyrics for their songs.
“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics!” gives new writers a wide range of valuable advice – from how to prevent common errors in the basic construction of their song lyrics … through to the perils of making bad choices when it comes to titles, opening lines, lyrical hooks, verb selection, clichés, rhyming patterns, and many other issues.
The book includes a comprehensive checklist of more than 100 potential hazards that writers can measure their own lyrics against.
“SURPRISING RHYMING FOR SONGWRITERS AND POETS -THE ALTERNATIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY”
With more new songs being written than ever before, songwriters are finding it harder to sound original and craft rhymes that have not already been used. “SURPRISING RHYMING” is a new kind of rhyming dictionary that aims to make it easier for writers to avoid clichés and create rhymes people may not have heard before.
Based on an in-depth study of the ingenious rhymes used by some of the world’s greatest songwriters and lyricists, this book offers an astonishing array of thousands of alternative rhyme options. It contains rhyme types much broader than those found in traditional rhyming dictionaries which tend to stick to ‘perfect’ rhymes. Instead, it focuses on ‘imperfect’ rhymes that are less predictable than ‘pure’ rhymes—and are therefore more likely to surprise an audience. The book also includes many new words that have been added to standard dictionaries in recent years.
With 624 pages, the book is laid out clearly to make it quick and easy to find the perfect word to achieve a memorable rhyme. There are separate sections for one-, two- and three-syllable rhymes, along with many useful tips on rhyming.
“SURPRISING RHYMING” is available from Amazon as a paperback and an eBook. It’s also available as an eBook from Apple’s iTunes Store, Barnes & Noble and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.