Songwriting is arguably one of the most compelling art forms. It is humanity looking back at itself – giving us the ability to reflect in profound ways. A song about heartbreak has the power to bring a person to their knees by ways of evoking memories that are universal. One of our most important missions as songwriters is to present universal experiences to listeners in human and accessible ways.
Making human experiences come off as interesting in music demands a delicate balance. By simply saying “I’m in love and am very happy in this moment,” you may be missing out on an opportunity for greater creative license. However, that same idea presented as “Since I found you, I don’t feel like eating spiders anymore,” rings cryptic and obscure past the point of comprehension.
Universally relatable topics mean your lyrics will take shape as ideas that your listeners can identify with. Be mindful not to veer off course with overly complex descriptions, as you may risk alienating your audience. A balance needs to be struck between clear descriptions and complex ideas and structure. You may need to go through lots of trial and error, but it is essential in developing your original voice as a songwriter and lyricist.
Taking yourself out of the song
Try taking yourself out of your song for a moment. If you weren’t the creator, would you listen to this song and be able to understand it? Is the story you hear forgettable or something other people could hear themselves in? Taking yourself out of the equation will give you clarity and direction.
Not every song needs to be relatable
There’s many directions that a song can take. There is no definitive rule that songs need to be about anything specific. However, if you center your music around a universal human experience, you’ll be sure to grab your listeners’ attention. Not only will your lyrics be easily understood, they will be unique, compelling and poetic.
Be patient with yourself – even professional songwriters spend decades trying to nail this. Perhaps on your first couple of songs, you may not be able to write deeply about topics. Just keep in mind that every new song is a fresh opportunity! Seize the chance to reach people through your music and give them something fascinating and real to hold on to.