This week I thought I'd just quickly outline something I thought of to help me out of a rut in my own songwriting. It's one of those things that will trick you into writing something cool. I'm avoiding the word "exercise" here, because an exercise always seemed to be something that you did to develop certain songwriting "muscles," but were never actually things that you ended up using in a "real" song.
So here's the gist of the exercise:
Step One: LEARN a song by one of your songwriting heroes. Seriously. I don't think you can call yourself a "huge fan" if you don't learn any songs by the people you admire. Ideally, you should do this by ear...I know...kind of being a hard ass about it...it's for your own good kid. Better to learn by listening over and over again, than to learn by looking it up on some lyrics and chords website (that may or may not have the correct information).
Step Two: Write out the lyrics of your hero's song.
Step Three: Notice what's going on there. What's the rhyme scheme? What are the stress patterns?
Step four: On a separate piece of paper, write out ONLY the rhyme scheme with the rhyming words in their appropriate places, like this:
Now, obvoiusly, form the chorus rhymes, we are able to tell exactly which song this is coming from...so I would use the verse rhymes as a jumping off point. In other words, let's use the rhymes of the first verse to create a new story unique to our own perspective that uses these rhymes from this classic song to get our head into a new creative space...
you never told me why you had to go
you just bought a plane ticket for mexico
it was something you were running from, that much i knew
but when you got on the plane i didn't know what to do
....right...so the story is changed and probably now the rest of the rhymes from the other verses might not make so much sense now, but from this little "rutbuster," we now have the basis of a story...which is WAY more than we had before. I would probably also at least use the rhyme scheme of the chorus, since it contrasts well with that of the verse. Obviously, it would need to be rewritten about 50 more times...but the lesson is still the same: sometimes when you set up some rules for yourself, like, "I am going to use the rhyme scheme from the verses of 'Up On Cripple Creek' to springboard me into a song," you force yourself into thinking in ways you probably wouldn't ordinarily.
Mixing with my new studio monitors:
Still in touch with my old roommate who is now an audio engineer.
Still looking for a job....that pays more than $8.45 an hour (seriously?)
Early Willie Nelson
The Music Row Show
Early Jimmy Buffet