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Posts tagged ‘lyrics’

The mysterious world of songwriting

Sometimes songs just come out, fully formed, as if they were coming from somewhere else, there’s really no effort at all. Other times you sweat for months and months over troubling chord sequences and niggling lyrics – it’s not always a happy ending. Some of them never get finished, they simply lie there on the factory floor, waiting for their carcasses to be stripped of good ideas that are plundered for newer songs with more chance of completion.

I know of few things more satisfying than that moment when a real tricksy bastard of a song finally gets finished. So I was thinking to myself while cycling home this evening, having just experienced this very moment of the final pieces of a puzzle slotting into place – the idea I’d been forming over the last few weeks or so had come together at last in the middle of Waterloo Bridge.

Waterloo Bridge - the site of many moments of creativityI’d been struggling over this song since last Summer and had performed it several times but something wasn’t quite right. If I was honest, I wasn’t really happy with the lyrics for the whole of the first verse. But I just wanted to get it out there so hoped I’d sort of get away with it.

‘Getting away with it’ lyrics are not really the kind I want to be writing. The kind of lyrics I aspire to are those where the juice could be sucked from each well-chosen word by every new listener and never run dry. I kept thinking of “One” by U2.

“One love, but we’re not the same
Well we hurt each other
Then we do it again”

Lyrics that are at once simple and profound, they make my heart turn over. So I was rejoicing on my bicycle that I had at least found a way to shift the block obstructing this song from being truly born. The new words seemed to fit better with the whole thing, as if they would help the song to know itself better.

I arrived home and picked up my guitar to seal the deal. The relief I felt was more like the feeling you have after painting a room that took a lot longer than you expected – there is a sense of weariness and resignation rather than outright celebration.

As I struck the final chord I made a mistake, but I liked it. So I kept playing, and another song began. And as I played, this new song just arose, fully formed, simple and profound, from the other, like an appendix to a long and gruelling novel. That’s what it feels like, an afterthought, or a second orgasm. Weirdly enough, the song appears to be about contentment.

Clapham Common - almost there

Lyrics to kill for

I am depressed. I am depressed because I went shopping for clothes, and a song came on – by Bruno Mars, as I later discovered. It’s called “The Lazy Song.” It didn’t make me lazy though, it made me want to punch someone. No not someone, him.

On reflection, it’s actually a rather accurate title. He was obviously feeling so lazy that he didn’t bother to write a decent melody, interesting chords or lyrics that made sense or had any meaning. I feel for him, because sometimes I also experience laziness. What I don’t understand is why he felt the need to inflict this particularly uncreative mood on the rest of us.

If you have hitherto been spared the joy of this song, the premise of it is that he doesn’t feel like doing anything. He then goes on to list all the things that ‘not feeling like doing anything’ is going to make him do. Wild isn’t it? Perhaps this irony is part of his genius. Perhaps it was a mistake. Who knows?

The lyrics themselves are equally blinding.

Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone, so leave a message at the tone

It’s a classic rhyme (phone/tone). Let’s face it, we’ve all thought about using it in a song, but something has always held us back. Well it didn’t hold him back. He’s obviously got a lot of balls. In fact we know he has. Because he tells us about them:

I’m gonna kick my feet up then stare at the fan
Turn the TV on, throw my hand in my pants
Nobody’s gon’ tell me I can’t

This is in the early part of the song, when he’s still wearing his pants. Later he expresses his intention to

…just strut in my birthday suit
And let everything hang loose

I don’t have a problem with this. I also enjoy walking around naked. Great. Pro-nudity. It’s just… well so what?

I’ll be lounging on the couch just chilling in my Snuggie
Click to MTV so they can teach me how to dougie
‘Cause in my castle I’m the freaking man

But what’s this? A rare moment of psychological insight? Mars lets the heavy veil of ‘inarticulate moron’ lift for a second to show us the hideous insecurity lurking beneath. In his castle he’s the freaking man. But what about outside on the street? A helpless bag of nerves? A blubbering emotional wreck? Is he being bullied? Does he use MTV to numb the pain of his freakiness?

Sadly, we never get to find out because he reverts to fantasy land.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up, do some P90X
Find a really nice girl, have some really nice sex
And she’s gonna scream out
This is great

Really nice? Is that the best you’ve got Bruno? No freakiness? No manliness? No balls-out strutting-ness? Just ‘really nice’? And twice in one line??? True laziness. I am beginning to alter my opinion of this man. He is a master of the genre.

I hope I have whetted your appetite sufficiently, because to properly revel in the glory of this musical travesty you really have to hear the song. And thanks to youtube, you can even gaze in horror at the appalling video.

Enjoy!