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Old 09-21-2005, 04:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Arty Ambiguity or Specific Storytelling?

Hi everybody,

I'm currently songwriting with a band. The music is going extremely well but when it comes to lyrics we've had some disagreement. The other band member who contributes to the lyrics is adamant that we should write lyrics which just revolve around a general theme, so that they're open to interpretation, whereas I'm equally firm that the lyrics should tell a story (with a beginning, development and conclusion if possible).

His argument is that if you write around a common, everyday theme then everybody will be able to relate to it. My view is that this approach usually produces lyrics which are so boring and directionless that nobody will listen to the lyrics in the first place - at least with a story it gives the listener something to think about, even if its badly written.

Now to the crux of this post - which side do you fall on? Do you think that lyrics should tell a story or should they be vague and open to interpretation? If you write vague lyrics can they end up accidentally saying more than you intended? When a story is told, does everybody find the same meaning in it?

Also, do you prefer simple words in songs or overextended expositions of the wordsmith's thesaurus inspired verbosity?

I promise not to use any of your comments for the purpose of band arguments!
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Old 09-21-2005, 09:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I agree that song lyrics should be like a story because when I write a song I pick a story from my life and put it down on paper in song form.
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Old 09-22-2005, 07:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Very good post.

I am more into the ambiguity of lyrics (as you can probably tell from my contributions to this forum) but story's are also good depending on how the story is told and what it involves. The style should take into account your talents, your bands music, and what message you have to convey


and i like big words but ones that most people know, just don't use everyday.
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Old 09-23-2005, 01:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You tell your band leader I said he's an idiot. You know who else wants "lyrics everyone can relate to"? Every throwaway artist in every genre ever. If you bought a CD on the strength of one song, and you then realized the other songs were complete ****. Go read the lyrics to any non-hit song. You'll see there ambigious. Theres a reason for that, because no one really relates. No one ever says "oh yeah that unnameable person did that terrible thing to me and went off with that other nameless him" god this is jsut like my life.
People can relate to stories if you give them one. Books don't get ambiguous, and the classics sell millions. How many Default CD's compared to Bob Dylan CD's are out there? Give details, no one likes the general gossip, they all want the dirt. Give them it. I can't stress this enough. Ambiguity is horrid horrid ****.
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Old 09-23-2005, 02:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Each approach has it's merits. Each style has produced innumerable hits, often times, with bands having hit with each style. (i.e., The Beatles, with any number of boy/girl songs, the most common message in songwriting history, and also with songs like Eleanor Rigby.)

Why pigeonhole yourself in to one type of songwriting style anyway? Write what you see, how you feel. If it tells a story, fine. If it simply conveys an emotion, just as fine.

There are no rules when it comes to creativity.

And as far as which side of the fence I personally fall on, it's both. Music is what whets one's own personal musical palate. That's the beauty of it. The same as the tongue having several different tastes buds that respond differently to sweet, sour, salty, etc, so do the musical taste buds respond to the many flavors of music.

Try them all.
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Old 09-23-2005, 06:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBig3KilledMyRainDog
I can't stress this enough. Ambiguity is horrid horrid ****.
Its bad in the example you gave but i think that some of my moe ambigious work is pretty good. details can confuse.
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Old 09-23-2005, 06:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Let him write songs how he wants to , write your own songs how you want to.And then let the whole band vote on which ones are the best.

Simple
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Old 09-23-2005, 10:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riseagainstrocks
Its bad in the example you gave but i think that some of my moe ambigious work is pretty good. details can confuse.
Examples
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Old 09-23-2005, 11:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Hatemonger
Let him write songs how he wants to , write your own songs how you want to.And then let the whole band vote on which ones are the best.

Simple
This makes valid sense. If your band is a democracy, the best music will be what is played.

Be prepared for lots of arguments. LOL.

Either way, keep writing your own stuff, even if no one ever hears it but you.
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Old 09-24-2005, 12:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I like both, I love hidden metaphors in songs. I do like some songs that tell a story though, but usually the story is related to something else.
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