I was at a funeral for an old acquaintance yesterday and on the way home it occurred to me that there were a lot of lines and phrases spoken by others that I could easily use in a song lyric some time in the future. Quite often you may have come across the idea of reading or watching TV or seeing a movie to find some inspiration, but the truth is that your very own life is probably a great source if you handle it just right.
Of course, many of you already write about your own life, and many songs you’ve heard over the years are a reflection of the writer’s life, not just fiction. But instead of writing about the typical things like love, loss, partying (:-)) and every other clichéd topic, there are probably events or snippets of conversation happening around you all the time that might make for interesting lyrics. So any of you out there complaining (and many of you do!) that you don’t have anything to write about, maybe you only need to open your ears and eyes a little more. Almost anything can inspire a song lyric if you know what to do with it.
For instance, one thing that was said yesterday by the brother of the person who passed away was that in losing his brother, he learned something about him, and he also remembered something that he had forgotten. The “new” learning came in the form of stories that people told him after his brother died. The thing he had forgotten was how he had always thought of his brother as his hero. I could see turning that into an idea for a song. Another idea that came to me was when the pastor spoke about how we only know a part of a person, and when we get together during such an occasion, the memories others have, when we put them all together, paint a much more complete picture of that person.
Do you see what I mean? Whatever lyric came out of that wouldn’t even have to be about death, only about getting to know someone, or a kind of philosophy of life.
I’m not even afraid to share these ideas with you because I know that if you use them, you would probably write a completely different song than I would :-) Years ago I used to lead a kind of online songwriting workshop on a songwriting message board I used to hang out on, where I would get everyone to submit a song title. Then we’d vote on the title and have a week or two to write a song around that title. Sometimes it wasn’t a title, but just a lyric idea. It was a great exercise, but what it taught me most was how completely different all of the songs were that came out of it.
So take something from my experience above, if you like, or pay more attention to your own experiences and don’t be afraid to share them. You never know where you’ll find a new song!