Doing It To Music

As some of you will know, the blog has a sort of 'outside track' where I occasionally post my attempts at song lyrics.  I generally post them mid-week and I bury them down the posts a bit so they're not easily found and don't hog the front page.

Many of the lyrics come from little twitter exchanges or some phrase I hear and latch onto. One or two of the lyrics have been set to music by talented friends and that has been a source of great pleasure to me. Generally though, they sit here in the murky depths of the blog and mind their own business. That's okay too.

The point is, my lyric writing invariably starts with words. I'm a word person so it's probably understandable that things would kick off there. Besides, I don't have any music to work with. All of which makes me wonder from time-to-time, could I do it to music? Supposing I had no twitter inspiration, no neat phrase to toy with. Supposing I had only a tune...

Last night I was listening to a favorite little tune of mine. 'The Death of Falstaff'  by Patrick Doyle from his lovely soundtrack to Kenneth Branagh's version of Henry V. Here it is on YouTube, in case you don't know it.

The question I posed myself was whether I could write a lyric with nothing but the tune.

I had a go. I left out the middle bit and stuck with the main theme so, when you're singing along (ha) you need to let the awkward middle bit play through before you attempt the last verse.

What I learned is that I can be mawkish. It's a slightly mawkish tune (it's a funeral for God's sake) so maybe that forgives a bit, you tell me. I also confirmed what I feared, that it is terribly easy to slip into cliches and well-trodden imagery. It's a challenge to garner some worthy thought and guide it into the music.

I'll keep trying, I think. If anyone has a spare tune... well, you know.

Here's the lyric. Try singing along to the Youtube clip.

I dare you.


Were everything to me
But still I couldn’t see
You wanted to be free
Now all alone it’s

Who makes the stars seem bright
Who holds me through the night
and tells me it’s all right
To be alone but

Made every dream seem real
You showed me how to feel
Now show me how to heal
and live away from

Made every dream seem real
You showed me how to feel
Now show me how to heal
and live away from…


Karen Redman said...

So lovely, Ken. You shouldn't ever hide your musical blogs. And it isn't mawkish ... it's sensitive & a very perfect conclusion to Valentine's Day.

Jim Murdoch said...

Song lyrics aren’t bad poetry. They’re their own thing and some truly awful lyrics (when read on their own) spring to life when accompanied by the melody for which they were designed; a certain Bob Dylan springs to mind in this regard. This is a perfectly passable effort if, as you say, a little safe and predictable. I’ve done this before, taken a tune and written lyrics to go. I’ve also taken a song and replaced the lyrics which is something Paul McCartney does; he writes temporary/nonsense lyrics and then goes back and swaps them for something he’s happier with. The reason I know this is because when he wrote ‘Waterfalls’ he kept his original lyrics.

Here’s one I wrote… Christ, it must be twenty years ago now. The CHORUS is at the end:

    Torch Song

    The north wind blows cold every day.
    It blows me memories
    and feelings I have never known.

    I close my eyes but the tears remain.
    They might be joyful,
    they might be sad—you never know.


    I used to see you all of the time.
    We used to be close
    but the miles have come between us now.

    We used to talk, yes, I trusted you then.
    We used to be close,
    hey, we used to be so many things.


    So please don’t give me your sympathy.
    It’s not what I want.
    I don’t know what to do with it.

    And please don’t look deep into my eyes.
    You’ll see yourself there
    but I don’t know what to do with you.


    It’s true that I’ve done things to my cost.
    Some things have been broken,
    some things have been lost or sold.

    I know that changes often take time
    but the years roll on by
    and I’m not the silly kid you knew.




    I love you.
    I love you.
    Well I can carry a torch or I can carry a cross
    but which one should I carry for you?
    Which one should I carry for you?

See if you can work out what the original song was. Here’s a link to the song to see if you’re right. If it’s any help it was a female singer songwriter from the eighties who’s still on the go but it’s years since I’ve heard anything else by her.

Gerry said...

That works well, Ken. Lovely stuff.