Tuesday, 21 September 2010

(Thats enough of that! - Ed)

I was thinking today, of the differences in writing a song, and in writing a novel or piece of prose.  There's obviously a fair degree of difference between the two art forms, but I'm wondering if there's something to be learned from writing.

In the world of publishing, as far as I dimly comprehend it, a writer has an "editor", perhaps a slightly older person, who is not entirely unsympathetic to your work, but who ultimately wants the writing to "succeed" in some fashion.  Usually for the financial gain of the publisher, but not always for that goal alone.

The writer submits a draft; the editor adds comments, such as "starts to wander a bit in the middle", "needs to be a bit shorter in this chapter", "are you sure the character would have said that at the end?",  the writer makes amendments, and re-submits.  (The reader should bear in mind at this point, that the above is based upon my loose understanding of such things).

However, the important part is the process not only of re-writing, tweaking words around and all that, but to listen to someone else's thoughts on the thing.  Someone whom you trust, but who is outside of the creative process in question.  I've been doing that with a new song recently, and it's been very beneficial.  I've been hearing how certain lines are hackneyed, pompous, and over-used.  And, they are.  I've been lazy, and they need to be altered.

I have suggested changing a word or phrase in a song to different songwriters over the years.  It's resulted in precisely zero changed songs.  I remember Lou Reed remarking that re-writing lyrics was "not his favourite thing", but he did do that on his album "New York", and the result was critically lauded.

So, singer/songwriters, get off your precious soapbox ass about your lyrics! (That's enough of that - Ed).


  1. Reading this put me in mind of Raymond Carver:

  2. A very interesting article indeed G, many thanks for that

  3. I have, in the past, based several songs on Raymond Carver's prose...

    Good post Nelson...