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Catherine Hol

I do appreciate you taking the time to emphasize the importance of good lyrics. And the very best writers can invoke profound emotions in the listener, it's true.

Yet not all great lyricists have the pain factor you describe ... surely some are also great because they are intellectual rather than emotional, and trigger thoughts rather than feelings?

And others are great because they are so funny or satirical.

Jackie Henrion

I enjoyed this article. It resonates with me and advice I have heard from other accomplished songwriters, who have suggested that good lyricists explore "vertically" for their best material. During my "free writing" process, I find subjects that cause me to cry end up being the best ones lyrically.

Aaron Gibson

Thanks for pointing out that us lyricists matter :)
The problem is that I've gotten used to expressing so many thoughts in so few verses, that I'm finding it near impossible to do any long form writing, like a book.


Michael J Peade

Interesting. Alive, with slight bleeding, festering words, but there is no pain. Feel, feel with me. http://lnk.ms/CKMWH

Jay Weinberg

I agree with Catherine Hol. I've got a lot of lyrical content that deals with the aspect of pain, tragedy and loss - but it's actually the last place I write from most of the time. I think what we are looking for in great lyrics is a deeply enriched use of language coupled with a desire to communicate honest experience.

That's when "I can't express my love in words." turns into "Words are like coffins for those who think." (yes that's a lyric from one of my tunes)

Like Catherine said, lyrics can be funny, thought provoking, or filled with angst. The great challenge of the lyricist is crafting something intensely personal and simultaneously universally resonant.


Agreed! It's not only about being emotional.

Kyle Bylin

I guess I didn't mean to imply that all lyrics must be derived from loss. But from 14 - 21 were my prime lyric writing years and that life transition is more app to be biased toward such experiences. Your certainly right though, lyrics can be about all things. The thing I intended to focus on isn't necessary pain or tragedy, but something that you feel deep inside you. When honest about such things, when that kind of emotion wells up inside you, I think it's a very powerful moment of expression. This is merely my attempt to put such a feeling into context. Sadly, it is the things that we are brutally honest about that hurt us that most as humans are prone to defy all odds to preserve what they hold to be true.

Kyle Bylin

Well, I assure that it's possible. I converted my lyric writer to essayist. It takes time.

Kyle Bylin

As always Jackie, thank you for reading. It's funny though, as writers, we don't need our own lives to be going badly. We're just as capable of putting ourselves inside others and deconstructing the obfuscation of their worlds too. I'd argue that a large part of my pieces were never truly about my own life at all. It does, however, get confusing when things in your life correlate with what your writing, but that doesn't mean that what you're writing is inspired by your own tragedy.


I have just had this brought up by one of my friends in my own songwriting. She told me all my songs have something to do with a girl. I have had some highs and lows in my relationships, and I guess that is where all my raw emotion and feeling comes from, so I have to agree!

Andre From Idlewood

Kyle Bylin

Oh yeah. Girls inspire songs -- that's for sure. Most songs in pop culture are about loving someone that doesn't love you back. 

Andrew Mengede

This article covers the emotional aspects of lyricism, however that's not the only approach. A fair bit of effort goes into other aspects of the task as well, such as developing good writing skills and researching topics for songs.

Not every lyricist is a tender soul gushing tears from emotional wounds, there's a bit more to it than that.

Jordan Martin

Brilliant piece.

Andrew Mengede

I agree, if only I had read this I wouldn't rephrase it later. I judge lyricists on the intelligence of their work, rather than their emotional power.

Paul Thomas

A good article although we don't always write with bleeding thoughts & feelings, sometimes we write about concrete & iron & spiders, monkeys & flies in cups of tea & stuff ........:)!

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