Showing posts with label lyrics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lyrics. Show all posts

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Just Completed A Songwriter Survey

I'd completely forgotten that I had completed a songwriter's survey back in 2009.  It was called a "songwriting, health and well-being" survey, conducted by somebody with a "Dr." in front of his name in Hertfordshire, UK.

Interestingly, one of my very first "fake CD's: was this:

So, I apparently have a kinship with this doctor ~ doctor of psychology, I might add.

This week, I received a follow-up email, asking for my participation once again.

So, I said, okay, I'm bored.  Let's take a look at this.

The survey began by asking if I'd had any life-changing events in the past couple of years.


Then it went on to list a bunch of medical conditions, and asked how severely I suffered from any of them (in the past month).

I'm not entirely sure what that has to do with songwriting, but I did tell him about my allergies.

One of the questions was in regard to "irritability".  Well, who doesn't have that??  I have that at least once a day!  I don't necessarily think that's a medical condition.  I just think it's a byproduct of living in this world.

For example, I had a severe bout of irritability on Friday, when our system went down for three freakin' hours at work.

In fact, I was so irritable, I made a video cartoon of the whole situation:

The IS Guy
by: MichelleAnd

So, Dr. Mindbender, don't blame me for my irritability.  But take it for what it's worth.  I don't think I've written any irritable songs, ever, because that would just irritate me, and why would I want to irritate myself?  That would take all the fun out of writing (which isn't all that much fun to begin with).

But, it's all hocus-pocus, I'm sure.  I'm sure that the good doctor can somehow connect the dots of my song lyrics with some sort of malady that I am apparently suffering from.  Although, again, an allergic rash cannot really account for any of the songs I've written.  That I know of.

The survey also asked questions about "how I feel about myself".  Am I hyper-critical?  Well, yea!  Do I call myself names?  If "idiot" and "imbecile" are names, yes.  Doesn't everybody do that?  At least when they completely screw something up?  That seems normal to me.

Not that I want to "cut myself", as one of the questions asked.  I'm not insane.  I'm just your normal, average, insecure person.  And being the practical gal that I am, I wouldn't want to have to clean up the mess, frankly.

Do I "crave close relationships, but not trust that people will be there for me?"  Oh, blah blah blah.  I'm not nineteen.  I think I can pretty much handle whatever happens to come my way, at this point in my life.  If not, I think I need to go back and start over.

Do I "like myself"?  Well, sure.  I like myself okay.  I'm used to myself.  I don't really have any other frame of reference.  I've lived with myself for fifty-six-and-three-fourths years, so, yes, I'm comfortable.  I'm really kind of over that whole "examine one's life" sort of thing, for the most part.  I strive to be a better person, yes, but I've had a long time to get used to myself, and changes, if any miraculously occur, will be minimal.

The last part of the survey, however, was sort of fun.  It asked me to paste 10 song lyrics that I'd written since I'd completed the survey in 2009.

I honestly don't keep track anymore, so I had to exclude some of my better lyrics, because I had apparently written them before the cutoff, although they seem relatively new to me, so I'm either in a time warp or I'm suffering from some sort of song amnesia.

And, to make matters worse, the songs I wrote for FAWM in 2010, I never transferred to a word doc.  They're all handwritten in a spiral notebook.

The survey asked how many songs I'd written since 2009, and I guesstimated 40, which is pretty good, considering that I haven't written a song in over a year.

So, I kind of scanned my song lyrics, to narrow my choices down to 10, and I found that I had a bunch of good ones.  Too bad the actual songs aren't that good.  But the lyrics are grand-ish.

Being mindful of that fact that this was a psychologist asking the questions, I looked for some kind of hidden motivation or my lyrics.

Granted, the majority of my lyrics are either wistful or sad, but aren't most songs??  I mean, how many happy songs does one hear anyway?  Other than "Walkin' On Sunshine"?

But it was still kind of fun to look back, and, it's not an MMPI test, but I get what the guy (sorry, doctor) is looking for.  Some sort of window into the soul, or the psyche.

I ended up including about eight sad songs, and two happy ones.  That seems about right.

Here's a sad one:


There's an ice storm
Gettin' close, they say
You better get on in
This cold don't look
Like it will subside

Lock your windows
Latch the door behind
It creeps in silently
It gets into your bones
Into your mind

Ice storms, quiet storms
Crackin' hearts in two
Ice storms don't warn
Look out for me and you

You can see it
Through the window panes
When they leave their shades undrawn
They didn't see the chill
'Til it came on

As he sits there
Starin' silently
While she hides away upstairs
They wonder if they ever even cared

Ice storms, quiet storms
Crackin' hearts in two
Ice storms don't warn
Look out for me and you

Pull the covers over, babe
We're gonna keep us warm
Stay inside and we'll be fine
We can fight the storm
We can fight the storm

Ice storms, quiet storms
Crackin' hearts in two
Ice storms don't warn
Look out for me and you

Look out for me and you


Here's a happy one:


Tall lemonade
In the shade of the tree
No one around
‘Cept the birds and me
It’s a cool, cool day
Wastin’ my time away

Puffy white clouds
On a pallet of blue
Conspire with me
For a daydream or two
It’s a cool, cool day
Wastin’ my time away

Everybody says
You gotta do somethin’
I know that’s not true
If somethin’ means nothin’
I’m on board
Cuz that’s what I’m gonna do

The bees go about
Their work silently
I don’t bother them
They don’t bother with me
We’re sharin’ the flowers
While I’m wasting my time away

Everybody says
You must do somethin’
I know that’s not true
If somethin’ means nothin’
Then I’m on board
And that’s what I’m gonna do

The sun’s wavin’’ goodbye
On an orange halo
I think I’ll linger awhile
I’m not ready to go
It’s been a perfect day
Wastin’ my time away


I think the motivation, oftentimes, for a songwriter, is to write in the present.   And if I am sad, wistful, or if I am irritable, what better way to vent than in a song?  It's not that I don't write some happy songs, but, frankly, those are written out of either boredom or desperation, or out of the effects of a couple of drinks.

For the record, I was feeling sort of lazy, so I didn't do an in-depth analysis of the best all-time lyrics that I ever wrote.  I tend to go by "feel", because you know those artistic folks.  They don't actually "think".  They just "feel".  But these felt right.

NOTE:  Feel free to stop reading here.  I'm mainly including these other eight songs, because I never actually transcribed the lyrics anywhere, and I kinda would like to have access to them.

Here are the other eight.  The recordings are horrible.  One must possess the patience of a saint to actually listen to them. 


I feel like I’m lost
In a thousand towns
Where nobody wants to know my name
Hard as I knock
The doors hold their locks
And it keeps getting’ colder every day

I said your sign says friendly town
They said, that means to each other
The shades are drawn, I don’t belong
I guess I’ll move along

It’s time to right what’s turned out to be wrong

I feel like I’m lost
In a thousand towns
Where nobody wants to know my name
Hard as I knock
The doors hold their locks
It’s time to start all over again

My bag never was unpacked
That simplifies the goin’
I’d say my goodbyes
But no one’s here to tell
I won’t forget this little slice of hell

I feel like I’m lost
In a thousand towns
Where nobody wants to know my name
Don’t change your locks
I’m not gonna knock
You won’t have to see me again

©  Michelle Anderson  2010


It’s two o’clock
And I’m still awake
And I don’t know why
I’m up so late
I got the wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ ‘round blues

I’m gonna hate myself
When it’s five a.m.
And I’m blurrin’ the lines
Between live and dead
Sure hate those wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ around blues

I blame you
It’s almost three
You don’t what
What you’re doin’ to me

It’s time for me
To go to bed
I gotta get you
Outta my head
I got the wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ ‘round blues

I blame you
Cuz now it’s four
I just can take
This anymore

Nighty night
It’ll be a short night’s sleep
It’s not even worth
Botherin’ the sheep
I got the wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ ‘round blues

Wanderin’ around
Head spinnin’ ‘round blues



Broken hearts
Missing parts
Feels undone

Muddy skies
Empty eyes
See no one

Never sung
Never begun
When you’re only one

Turn away from hope
It’s fadin’
Can’t go on like this
Much more

Tell yourself lies
Say it’s all right
To be on your own

Cold dark hurts
Dreams desert
And you’re all alone


RUNDOWN TOWN (Yes, I like "towns")

Things never change
In this rundown town
Except it gets more
Run down

People disappear
And they never come back
And the store windows
Are black

They say why you don’t you go
I say hell if I know
Is it any better someplace else

The devil that you know
Might not give a real good show
But I’ve determined life
Is just like that

I walk down the streets
Of this rundown town
I can close my eyes
And know the way

From time to time somebody goes
Leaves little curios behind
I pick them up  
And haul them away

They say why don’t you go
I say hell if I know
It don’t feel like this is my day  

The cracks are getting deeper
And my bones startin’ to moan
But I’ve determined life
Is just that way

©  Michelle Anderson  08-19-11


Words can hurt
Silence costs
You’re lost in anger
I'm just lost

Another day
Another ride
Too lonely, too hurt
To even cry

Can’t say
I’ve stopped trying
I still need to understand
Doesn’t matter
To an unclasped hand

You just might
Say that you love me
But tonight

Chalk up the day
I’ll be a stone
You don’t want me
I’ll leave you alone

Can’t say
I’ve stopped trying
I still need to understand
Doesn’t matter
To an unclasped hand

I’ve done something
I don’t know
Does it matter
I’ll fall asleep alone

Words hurt
Silence costs
I’m feeling
Feeling so lost

© Michelle Anderson 02-18-11


There’s a place I want to take you
Tonight, somewhere so quiet
Away from the house, past the windbreak trees
Nobody knows this place but me

Hold my hand, I’ll guide you
Through the low-hanging branches
That long ago stepped back, a path
They made for nights like this

Stars tumble from an envelope of sky
A blackbird tilts across the moon
I can be anything at all here
Somehow I always knew
What I’d choose to be is
Alone with you

The breeze brushes across your face
Enough to blow the stars in
In the fields lying fallow
Our bare feet kiss the ground

Nestled by this cottonwood
Is a clutch of red wildflowers
Would you mind if I picked
This one for you

As the stars tumble from an envelope of sky
A blackbird tilts across the moon
I can be anything at all here
Somehow I always knew
What I’d choose to be is
Alone with you

No one has ever seen it
Quite like this
All I'm needin’ now
Is your soft kiss

Stars tumble from an envelope of sky
A blackbird tilts across the moon
I can be anything at all here
Somehow I always knew
What I’d choose to be is
Alone with you

© Michelle Anderson 02-19-11


 My best friend has gone away
I wonder where she is
I wonder if she’s singin’ out
Like she always did

Road tales, imposed travails
Intersecting lines
But now she left with no farewell
And I’m cryin’ why

Yesterday I saw
Somethin’ that made me laugh
Then I looked around and realized
Nobody else would understand

My best friend’s still dancin’ ‘round
It’s just with someone else
She’s prob’ly laughin’ at me now
Knowin’ she’ll see me again

But I miss her



I rolled with you down that road
A hundred miles ago
As we grazed that prairie sky

Songs would fade to static there
The sky it was so dark
And we traced the midnight line

All those years I was your biggest fan
But maybe now it’s time to say goodnight
It hurts to hold on endlessly
Even after all these years I still can’t smile

You left your guitar just lying there
No one dared pick it up
So I thought maybe I would

No stones, no thrones, just flesh and bone
And livin’ for a song
Capturing time when it was good

All those years I was your biggest fan
But the pain, it never goes away
I can’t go on like this endlessly
Maybe we should decide to say goodbye

They can say they knew you well, all right
But you and I both know
How the stars glowed on those dark prairie nights

©  Michelle Anderson  2010

It was fun, I admit, to look back.  It almost makes me want to write again.  Almost.

And if I was to psychoanalyze myself, I would say, well, she's a syrupy sentimentalist, with underlying feelings of rejection,  She tends to dwell on the dark side of relationships; yet, she has an optimist's eye for the healing power of nature.

And she's lazy.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Okay, Lyric-Only Writers, You Can Flog Me Now

I've said some harsh, I guess you could say, things about lyric-only writers in previous blogs. However, I still stand by my statement: Lyrics are not songs. I think I said, unless you can strum them on a guitar, or plink them out on a keyboard, they're not songs. True!

I will, though, say that just sitting and writing lyrics is not as easy as it seems at first glance.

Not that hard, but not necessarily easy.

What brings me to this enlightenment? Simply, it's February, and that means it's time for FAWM, or more specifically, February Album Writing Month.

If you're familiar with my blog, FAWM means, in essence, write 14 songs in 28 days.

I still shudder in horror when I think about FAWM, 2010. Okay, horror isn't quite the right word. More like shudder in "exhaustion". I pushed myself really, really hard last year, to accomplish FAWM's goal, and I did it!

This year, however, I just didn't feel that I had the stamina to do what I did in 2010; yet I couldn't bring myself to NOT participate in FAWM (Once you've done it, you're hooked; really.)

So, the compromise? Write 14 lyrics.

I'm still part of the FAWM community; still an active participant; just not with the crushing commitment of not only writing the songs, but recording stupid demos of them as well.

So, all is good, right?

Sort of.

I find that I, in essence, do write the songs, at least in my head, while I conjure up the lyrics. It's the only way I know. And yea, I've got the chord progressions rattling around up there, too.

I, frankly, don't know how someone who doesn't know music can write a coherent lyric. It's not a matter of doing syllable counts, for God's sake. I mean, when you sing it, it's going to be totally different anyway. I wonder if lyric-only writers get bogged down in the minutia of making sure each line is exactly the same length as the one before it. Nobody sings that way!

So, okay, this does sound condescending, and I don't mean it to. But, on the other hand, since I've done, let's see, six lyrics now (and it's only February 4), I'm really itching to pick up the guitar and play the damn things. Having something echoing in your head is all well and good, but it's the same as fantasizing that Johnny Depp is going to swashbuckle on your doorstep and sweep you away (is "swashbuckle" a verb?) It's not reality; it's a fantasy.

Lyrics are NOT songs. You need a MELODY. You need somebody to SING them.

But anyway, if you want to know how to write songs, I did find this:

Have you ever wanted to write a song? (YES!) And maybe have it recorded by a famous singer? (SURE!) Maybe it could even hit the "top ten" chart? (WHY NOT?)

While this actually happens to some lyricists and songwriters, the chances are slim for a person to reach that height of success. But, what the heck! If you have an idea for a song, you might as well write it down and organize it into a song. Even if it never enters the front door of a recording studio, you will still have the bragging rights to your family and friends that you are a lyricist! (WOO-HOO!)

There is no set way to write the lyrics to a song, but there are a few basics that you will need to know in order to reach your goal. In this article, you will learn about organizing your own personal thoughts and turning them into song lyrics.

The first step is to write down who your audience is (NO ONE!). You will need to keep this in mind while writing the lyrics so you can target them (THE NON-EXISTENT AUDIENCE). After all, if you were writing a song for children you would certainly avoid adult material of any kind (HMMM....DEPENDS).

Next, write down the subject of the song ("JOHN BOUGHT A TRACTOR"), the idea or the message you want to convey ("I'M WRITING A SONG!), and the story the song will tell. The subject of the song might be falling in love; the message might be that there is someone for everyone; the story might tell of a man and a woman who meet and fall madly in love with each other (OKAY!).

This is a good time to write down the words to the chorus of the song. The chorus is a bridge or connection from one verse to the next (WELL, TECHNICALLY A "BRIDGE" IS A "BRIDGE", AND A CHORUS IS SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM A "BRIDGE", BUT WHY QUIBBLE, I GUESS?). It must make sense to sing the words of the chorus in between the verses. From the chorus, you will also need to make-up a catchy title for your song ("JOHN BOUGHT A TRACTOR").

The next step is to write a rough draft of the first verse of your song. This verse should draw attention to your song and make your audience want to listen. Don't worry about it being perfect at this point; you will refine all the verses and the chorus later (BELIEVE ME!).

Now, of course, you will need to write the second verse (UNLESS YOU WANT A REALLY SHORT SONG!). In this part you will need to continue to tell the story and explain what the action is. Don't be too detailed; this is a three minute song, not an opera (HOWEVER, DON'T BE TOO VAGUE, OR NO ONE WILL HAVE A CLUE WHAT IN THE HELL YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT; BELIEVE ME; I KNOW).

Next comes the third verse (SERIOUSLY? I'M FINE WITH TWO, THANK YOU). Tell more about your story here, and add relevant information to your story (SORT OF A LAUNDRY LIST, IF YOU WILL). You really want to enhance the story line from verses one and two, because the next verse will close the song (NEXT VERSE?? FOUR VERSES?? WHAT IS THIS, AMERICAN PIE??).

It's time to close the song (THANK GOD!) by writing the fourth verse and bring it all together like the last chapter of a book (I, PERSONALLY, WOULD SKIP THE FOURTH VERSE; AND THE THIRD, FOR THAT MATTER).

Finally, read over your lyrics and change your sentences into lines. After you have lines, you will need to go back and change the ending words so they will rhyme (OH, COME ON). Do this with the chorus too. Every lyric should be of relatively-equal length so the song will glide along and not be choppy (AND BE ROTE; LIKE A ROBOT).

After you have completed writing your song, you may decide to write the music for it too (YOU MAY!). Or, if composing is not your thing, you could work with someone who does compose and complete your song! (GOOD LUCK THERE, PAL!)

So, there you have it. How to write a lyric; all FOUR verses of it! You can thank me later.

Meanwhile, I guess, against my wishes, I'm going to have to take the acoustic out of mothballs, and whip up a few of my 2011 lyrics, or else I'm just going to be really mad at myself. And I've probably got enough people mad at me already; I don't need to pile on.