Straight to DVD

A few days ago, I heard the expression “Straight to DVD” somewhere. The expression was obviously born in the film industry about less successful films that never made it to the cinema but instead went straight to DVD. Since then the expression has developed to mean anything less successful. I.e. “It didn’t work. It went straight to DVD.”

I was surprised when I heard the words, because it was a very young person that said it, and since DVDs are starting to become obsolete, I thought this expression was on its way out too. Since the expression obviously still can be understood, I decided to write a brand-new song lyric around it. Having done so, I felt I wanted to share my work method with you today around this new lyric.

At first, I imagined I would write quite a wordy ballad, because “Straight to DVD” is basically something sad and a failure. For a while I was pondering whether to wallow in some self-pity, but I quickly thought better of it. Then I started to find three scenarios for three verses where different people are failing in various undertakings, but I didn’t go that way either because I felt the story would become fragmented. Four lines per verse and therefore also per life story really didn’t seem enough.

The best thing that could happen with the song for me to move forward quickly, did happen when I went out for a walk with my dog Columbo this morning. Then I suddenly got the rhythm I wanted for my chorus. It went like this;

Dum-dum-dum-Straight to DVD
Straight to DVD
Straight to DVD
Straight to DVD
Straight to DVD
Straight to DVD.

The rhythm felt very positive, so I decided to write a story which might look like it was going to end badly, but which comes together in the end. A story with a beginning, a middle and a happy ending.

I found this girl and boy who were both lovely, happy kids growing up in different places but with the same dream. To tie them together at the start in the verses where I introduce them, I made lines three and four of the four-line long verses identical for the boy and the girl., like this:

One upon a time there was a girl
Pretty as a picture or a pearl.
Planned a life, for everyone to see
but was it really, ever meant to be?

Once upon a time there was a boy,
gorgeous as they come and full of joy.
Planned a life for everyone to see,
but was it really, ever meant to be?

Then we come to the chorus, or chorus 1 in this case, because, knowing the future of our boy and girl, I also knew the chorus had to change the second time around. This is how chorus 1 looks;

Chorus 1
Their lives went straight to DVD
Straight to DVD
They wanted the red carpet but went
straight to DVD.
Straight to DVD.
Straight to DVD.
They couldn’t catch the spotlight so went
straight to DVD.

Right! Life isn’t turning out so well for our two hopefuls at this stage of the song so I decided to move forward in time a couple of decades and change all that. This is where we get our middle and the first part of the end to the story.

Verse 3 goes like this;

Decades on, the man and woman met,
love was instant on that movie set.
Planned a life together from that day,
just left the glitz behind and walked away.

As you can see, if that is the story, there is no way I can put in the same version of the chorus a second time around. There is no “Straight to DVD” in their life story from that moment on. Instead it is a success story. The story that had always been written especially for them in the stars. It just took a little time for everything to align before life started to make sense and became a success. Maybe not the kind of success they had planned, but a success story never the less.
Still, some people may think it is a failure to walk away from the glitz, so I address that in the first line of Chorus 2, but after that I explain how their life together is anything but “straight to DVD.”
Here we go;

Chorus 2
You may think; straight to DVD.
Straight to DVD
But they got what they wanted, no more
straight to DVD
Happy as can be,
love had set them free.
They won the world together, no more
straight to DVD.
They won the world together, their own
billboard privately.
©Åsa Sandberg 2018

It is a very strange experience for me to explain my work process and how I was thinking while writing. I’ve been told that if I have to explain my song-lyrics I’ve got a problem, but personally I feel with this song there is a clear, beginning, middle and end. It has got a hook that I repeat often etc. My question mark is possibly that I decided to give the last clue to the “happily ever after” in the last line of the second chorus. Personally, I like that idea, but I’m not an evaluator or competition judge. I’m sure I’ll still do some tweaking to the song and after that I’ll just have to wait and see if my first lyric anno 2018 will go straight to DVD or get some attention.

Take care until next time and happy writing!



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