Ideas

Where do they come from, the ideas and the inspiration? Personally, for me it varies a lot. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and have a complete lyric ready in my mind just waiting for me to find the time to write it down. Other times I see something that makes me want to tell a story. I can also get a sentence that I work around until I have some lyrics I’m happy with, and sometimes I just get a word that transforms me into a certain mood that inspires a lyric.  All these ways of writing are inspirational, and it is wonderful when it is possible to ride on the waves of inspiration.

Not every day comes with a creative flow. Sometimes graft is required. If the words fail me, I try to think of a rhythm instead; or I give myself a challenge to try and tell a story in very few words. I also love to write verses where every second line rhymes. (If you read my last blog, the lyric to the song “Darkness” is written in that fashion).

Having been writing for a few years, the subject matters may start to feel a bit similar. Even the way I structure a song lyric can start to feel a bit old. Verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, most times get you to a three-minute song, but it isn’t very original. A bridge always spices things up, and if you are anything like me (a bit wordy) the bridge gives you a chance to expand on your chosen subject matter.  I also try to vary the tempo as much as I possibly can between my verses and my choruses to make for more interesting melodies. Still, I have started to feel that on the rare occasions I am writing lyrics to a melody I’ve been given, it is much easier to find a more original subject to write about. The melody gives me that additional dimension and inspiration that verbally takes me to places I never would have considered without that specific melody.

Do I see not writing music as a handicap? Sometimes yes, because even though I still haven’t attempted to write a melody, I quite often “hear” a certain style of music when writing my lyrics. I sense it would be a good rock, pop, blues, jazz song or maybe a power ballad, but when the composer takes over the lyrics I can’t deny him or her their creative freedom when it comes to interpreting my words. Sometimes, if my feeling is very strong, I may suggest that genre, but so far, I have never insisted. If I were to write my own melodies I would get away from this kind of compromise, but so far I would have ended up with a poorer song in every instant, because even though music plays such a big part in my life, I have yet to attempt any kind of composing.

I’m going to leave you with a lyric of mine that got to the semi-finals in the UK Songwriting Competition in 2016. This is one time I went for the minimalistic approach in my verses, mainly because the first verse; “The cold empty feeling, when something is gone. To late to start over, to soon to move on.” just appeared to me as it is, and I built on that. Fredrik Holm is the composer and I’ll give you the link to a very early demo of the song too.

Take care and happy writing until next time!

Åsa

Alone 

The cold, empty feeling

when something is gone.

Too late to start over,

too soon to move on.

 

The joy of our meetings

has faded away.

If I’d seen it happen,

I’d asked it to stay.

 

Chorus

It feels like I’m standing

in the eye of the storm.

It’s cold and it’s weary,

I’m too numb to keep warm.

’cause deep down I know that it’s over,

and I’m all alone once again.

 

I miss being quiet

with you by my side.

Show weakness and sadness,

forget about pride.

 

To laugh about nothing,

to know what you think.

It’s all in the past now,

it went in a blink.

 

Chorus

©Åsa Sandberg 2016

https://soundcloud.com/noted-3/alone

Troubled soul, better writing?

It has been said that the best words come out of great suffering. It is also well documented through history that a lot of people with creative jobs have been, and are, very troubled souls. I don’t know when you can call yourself a writer? If the line goes at being signed by a real publisher or studio, I am still to earn that right. If it goes at the point where a certain amount of people has bought your self-published e-books, I suppose I am one. Personally, I think you should be allowed to call yourself a writer if your soul tells you that is what you are. Not everything can be measured in money and if writing is all that occupies your mind, and the only time you feel you have done something of value is when you have finished a new song lyric or what ever else you are writing, then you are a writer in my book.

What I am certain of is that I am a troubled soul. I so wish I wasn’t, but I’ve had to accept that we are what we are. I go through periods of deep darkness which I most times balance up with happier days. With age I feel the grey middle ground is where I spend most of my days.

What I have learned is that when I go into a very dark period in my life, it is impossible to write. The same goes for when I am extremely happy. It is when I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel from one of my dark periods that I am at my most prolific as a writer. Somehow this is when I can put words to what my soul searching has given me that time around. I wish I could say the same about my happy periods in life. I wish I could sum them up in happy words, happy stories, but writing happy lyrics is not as easy as it sounds. I have tried, but anything on paper from my “jolly-pen” always looks trivial and silly.

Where do I find a happy medium when it comes to how dark or light my words are? When it comes to light, happy, peaceful subjects I still must find my happy medium or I must find light words that still have meaning and depth. When it comes to darkness my problem is to keep my words within subject matters that the reader or listener can stomach.  Unfortunately, some of my experiences in life have been so dark that what is my “normal” can sometimes be way off the chart.

What people think is a good song lyric is also a cultural thing. My opinion, said with great fondness and in very broad stroke caricature, is that with a Nordic soul, which I have, there must be soul searching and melancholy in the words, to really hit home. Pain and hardship should seep through here and there. Obviously, this is a way of writing that feels very close to my heart. My problem is that my adoptive home country really doesn’t like deep conversations and having feelings out on display. In England it is appreciated if feelings are kept a bit at arm’s length and if spoken of, the feelings are shielded with great self-irony. In public it is felt best to keep things jolly and close to the surface.  

At times I have tied to keep my words jolly and written with a big portion of irony, but this can cause problems on the other side of the pond where self-irony isn’t so deeply routed in the DNA. I have had lyrics going well for me in England that has offended people in the States, so the happy middle ground is a very narrow patch of land.

In fairness, I think the worst thing to do is to try to figure out what kind of lyrics the critics, studios, agents etc. would want. I can only write what I have lived, and who I am, and how I have come to see our world through my experiences. To try to write as someone else or in a certain style takes me at least one step from what Is real and genuine. This makes my end-product weaker and takes away the real point of writing. Everything written should, at its best, be unique to the one putting the words on paper.

I will leave you with a lyric of mine that had some success in the UK Songwriting competition a couple of years back. It is called “Darkness” and I remember writing it after a period when I didn’t feel so good. Whether “Darkness” is good or bad is not mine to say, but it is proof of the fact that I belong to the group of people who seem to need the darker times of life to find my words. I will also share a link to a demo made of the song, if you feel like listening. The composer is Fredrik Holm. The singer’s name is Tine Sylvest.

Until next time. Take care and happy writing!

Åsa

Darkness

I’m looking for absolution

forgiveness I don’t deserve.

My heart needs a solution,

new hope I can preserve.

When I see my own reflection

I need to see one ounce of good.

Instead of the detection

of memories filled with blood.

 

Chorus

I’m surrounded by total darkness

because I can finally see

the horror I gladly created

as the person that used to be me.

My goal is to live every moment

a bit better than before.

To balance my previous actions

and feel a bit human once more.

 

I need to be able to feel,

my inside is dark and cold.

It’s time to break the seal

let painful truths unfold.

One day I want to be better,

as a person deserving to live.

Feel my happiness matters

know I’ve got good to give.

 Chorus

©Åsa Sandberg 2013

Personal style versus how it’s “supposed to be”

Sometimes I do miss the days, four years ago, when I’d just started to write song lyrics and the words just poured out. For many years I had been thinking that writing lyrics might be something I could do, but I happened to know a few very good writers and felt a bit silly even thinking I could simulate what they were doing. My respect for the craft was so big that it took me until 2013 before my enormous interest in music and my curiosity concerning whether I could write song lyrics, made me step over that psychological hindrance I had built up for myself and start to write.
I discovered one thing I had going for me very quickly. I wrote very even lyrics when it came to syllables. Later, I realised this isn’t always a good thing for the composer, but it was a good start. A second thing that became my personal style almost immediately, was to never shy away from any subject matter that happened to cross my mind. I think this had a lot to do with me being born in Finland in the Swedish speaking area of the country. Here we were saturated with something called “Swedish dance-band music” and let’s just say that isn’t a genre known for its originality in lyrical expressions. It is a musical style that deserves its place and makes a lot of people very happy, but it is not for me. Lyrically it contains a lot of “I love you, you love me, think how happy we could be!” Subconsciously I have a feeling I avoided the subject of love because of an unintentional imprint of “Swedish dance-band music” that anybody born where I was, is carrying around. I should be grateful to this music genre from my childhood, because what ever else critics have had time to say about my lyrics during the last four years, one thing they all agree on is that my subject matters are original, or, if they have been tried and tested before, I look at them from a different angle.
A third thing that moulded me in my formative twelve months of lyric writing was my use of language. Having sent quite a few of my earlier lyrics for evaluation lately, I often get told that I’m not ‘chatty’ enough. A song lyric should be something you say, not something that is written in a book. I do agree with this but finding something ‘chatty’ enough is something I am struggling with. Most times, whichever sentence is being evaluated, is something I really would say. This makes me think that what I have written is more a sign of my personal style and way of talking than anything else. Granted, Swedish is my first language and even after 22 years in England I will never have that intuitiveness about the English language that a native has. It probably also means that I find different words normal than a native would.
Valid is an example of a word I was told recently that isn’t chatty enough. To me it is a common enough word. This is how I had used it;

“Aiming high as a challenge,
all good fun to me.
The stars, a valid option.
Or the top of a tree!”

I’m not saying the word is a good choice, but what makes me consider it to be the right word for my personal style of writing is that the song-lyrics this verse is a part of rolled out of me in less than five minutes. I didn’t think. It was instinctive and came from my gut. To me this means that the word “valid” is a natural part of my vocabulary. It is how I talk in my daily life. It belongs to my “chat”.

 

This is where I’m struggling now. I am not a contracted writer yet, but I would like to be. How much of my personality will I have to give up and instead form my writing to the “hit-code” if I am to reach my goal? Would I even have the skill to write in a certain “hit-code” if I tried? Another problem is that the critics in USA have a totally different opinion to my lyrics than those in Britain. Where one can see the glimpse in my eyes, the other one misses it.

 

What I am certain of is that if I were to write a pure quality lyric I’m sure (or at least I hope) it would be recognised for what it is. So, I suppose that is what I need to aim for if I wish to keep my integrity as a lyric writer. Until I do, I will take in the things of the constructive criticism I’m given that feels right. I will re-model myself where there is a need to and keep as much of my personality as possible in my word choices.

 

Billy Joel has written one of my all time favourite lyrics. His song “Piano Man” transports me directly to the bar he is talking about and I just love the story he is telling the listener. Especially these lines are talking to me;

“And the waitress is practising politics

As the businessmen slowly get stoned

Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness

But it’s better than drinking alone”

 

Take care until next time and happy writing!

Åsa

Welcome

It is lovely that you dropped in. This is a brand-new blog that will talk about anything that has to do with lyric writing. I will share my thoughts about my attempts, successes and failures and share lyrics that I love from singers and performers around the world.

On this page, if you look for where I tell you about my aim with this blog, I am also sharing a song with you that is very close to my heart. It is called “Before” and as a welcome gift I want to share my lyrics to that song with you too.

Last summer I started to work with people suffering from dementia. They really got under my skin and more than anything I would have wanted to ask them about who they were befor their illness took over. Sadly they couldn’t give an answer to that question anymore, but I wrote these lyrics about my thoughts.

Simon Finn www.simonfinnsongwriter.com has written the beautiful music.

 

Befor

I wish I would have known you

before the fog rolled in.

A time when you could tell me

who you had really been.

 

Before your gaze grew weary,

and nothing more seemed clear.

When you felt strong and certain,

and not so full of fear.

 

Chorus

I wonder who you were before?

Before you changed inside,

and all you knew was pushed aside.

I wonder who you were before?

Before what’s you just died.

Before your mind went out to hide.

I wonder who you were before?

 

At times, the curtains open

to let the sunshine in.

A sudden burst of summer

looks certain to begin.

 

Your eyes are clear and happy,

right now, you know your name,

but then the light starts fading

and all is just the same.

 

Chorus

I wonder who you were before?

Before you changed inside,

and all you knew was pushed aside.

I wonder who you were before?

Before what’s you just died.

Before your mind went out to hide.

I wonder who you were before?

Åsa Sandberg©2017

 

Take care until next time!

Asa