Let it All Flow

Kapitano's 3 rules for not getting bogged down in songwriting:

1) Don't write about things that matter to you.

If you do, you'll wind up spending days painfully trying to make the words mean exactly what you want, while still scanning and rhyming. Or else you'll sacrifice scan and rhyme for sense - and the result will be a tedious lecture and a lousy song.

2) Don't worry if it doesn't mean quite what you intended, or indeed anything at all.

Look a "Whiter Shade of Pale". Look at the back catalog of Duran Duran. Look at just about everything written by Vince Clarke for any of his bands. These songs mean absolutely bugger all - or to put it another way, they're evocative, intriguing, oblique, suggestive, and productively ambiguous.

3) If you can't find a good rhyme or rhythm, find another word or sentence to rhyme or, er, ryth.

I somehow doubt that "ryth" is a word, but it should be. We need a word meaning "to have a particular rhythmic pattern".

Music is about form. The fact that lyrics have content is an awkward concession to the notion that songs can and should communicate in the same way that sentences do.

It's the kind of notion that's self-evident, until you think about it for five seconds and realise you can't explain why it's self-evident. On the grounds that it isn't.

I've got two songs written - one with a backing track done - and a lot of notes for others that might go somewhere if I can manage to follow my own rules.


  1. Good luck with the song writing. Speaking of great bands with weird lyrics, I have to say New Order is one of those. Not only are the lyrics weird, but most of their song titles do NOT match the songs! Like my fave songs, Bizarre Love Triangle and True Faith; those titles did not match the lyrics at all!

  2. I think much depends on the genre of music for the quality of lyrics.

    There are some bands that just make me grind my teeth, their lyrics are so awful. Ian VanDahl come to mind.

    There are some who seem to get it right every time. Faithless are big up on my fave list.

    Let me guess, I've just made you grind your teeth?

  3. @Eroswings:

    Yes, Bernard Sumner is a great one for words that sound like the mean something...but probably don't.

    True Faith is the song that got me into New Order, and then Joy Division.


    I rate Faithless highly. Lyrically and musically.

    I know I've heard some Ian VanDahl, but which song were his, and what they were about, no idea.

    But what you said about genre and lyric quality got me thinking. I'll post something short about it when there's

    (a) a fully formed idea
    (b) some time, and
    (c) no headache