If you are reading this as a budding lyric writer, I’d suggest you pay attention to my blog today. I have delved a bit further into the treasure trove of the song writing course “Success for your songs”, http://www.successforyoursongs.com and today I’m going to share something that made the penny drop for me when I read it.
Personally, I’ve gone from trying to make things a bit too complicated to become as simplistic as I possibly can. The text I’m sharing with you today from Anthony Ceseri has given me the blueprint as to how I can practise my similes or metaphors in ways to capture my audience from the word go. The language can still be simple, but I have to evoke people’s senses. This is what Antony says;
A great lyrical introduction is an excellent way to get your listeners interested in your story right off that bat. Plus, if it’s a snoozer, you run the risk of losing them. People have really short attention spans these days, so effectively grabbing their attention early is crucial. Having said that, I better get to my point… and make it quick!
I recently revisited a great example of a strong opening line in the song “Round Here” by Counting Crows. The first line of the song says:
“Step out the front door like a ghost into a fog, where no one notices the contrast of white on white.”
This is a great intro for a few reasons. The first is it’s really visual. Any time you engage the senses, you’re probably doing a good job of inviting people into your story. This line does that by engaging your sense of sight. It’s easy to picture a ghost and a fog as described here. Immediately, we set a stage of what this lyric will look like in our heads. It’s even fun to try and visualize the slight contrast that might actually be there between what we envision a ghost to look like and a thick fog.
In addition to that, this is a fantastic simile. There’s a comparison being made between someone who feels they just aren’t being noticed by the world, and a ghost in a fog. The element that ties these two thoughts together to make it an effective simile, is the idea that no one can see this person. It works very well.
This opening line is also very intriguing. After hearing it, I already want to know more because it’s so interesting. Had the first line had the same idea, but been said more simplistically and generically, I wouldn’t care as much. What if the song had opened with a line like this:
“Step out the front door, feeling like no one can see me.”
Eh. Suddenly I just don’t care as much anymore. I mean, it’s basically saying the same thing as the real first line, but in a bland, non-descriptive and generic way. Maybe I’d listen carefully to the rest of the lyrics. But maybe I wouldn’t. The “ghost into a fog line” is infinitely stronger and makes me want to stick around for more.
You can see how putting a really strong line up front is a great way to get your listeners excited about your story right off the bat. Granted, you want to keep them interested as your story continues along, but that first line can be crucial to getting their attention. Good imagery with a strong simile or metaphor, like we saw in the opening line of “Round Here,” is an awesome way to get your song rolling.
I do hope you find that just as useful as I did!
Take care and Happy Writing!