• Ryan Hope

Lyricism and Creative Self-Destruction

I feel, right now, my greatest weakness is compelling lyrics. The kind that leave you consistently turning them over in your mind, finding new and original ways to interpret them each time. The ones that leave you heartbroken, or distraught, or alive. Some of my favourite music is lyrically driven, from the story telling on a typical track from The Lumineers or resourceful yet manic lyricism you’d find on a Bon Iver record. Yet with all this inspiration, I’m always left feeling disappointed with my wordplay, or my flow, or any other aspect of my lyrical craft.

Contrarily, I feel so much more fluent melodically. Catchy riffs or motifs seem to come second hand now. It’s easy to say that as a songwriter, you write songs for yourself, and this selfish outlook is nothing I shy away from. The melodies I write for myself get stuck in my head for days. I fall in love with the dance of my harmonies (perhaps my rudimentary knowledge of the subject makes the topic more wondrous) - I become very attached to what I write, for better or worse. And it is with this attachment that I cannot seem to consistently put compelling lyrics to these melodies, I always feel that I could do better, my melodies deserve better than half-baked, strewn together lyrics. Regardless of how long I spend writing them, my opinions towards them remain staunch.

When I am not writing, I feel I have so much to say, overwhelmed by all the different ways to say it, and yet when I sit down the write - I cannot. The words do not accurately describe the way I feel. They do not reflect me anymore.

Ed Sheeran, regardless of the controversial value of his output in regards to the commercial music scene, is ‘prolificism’ is to be admired. Once saying in an interview, “songwriting is like a dirty tap, you must let the water flow out to clear the bad stuff, to allow the good stuff to flow out”. I desperately need to put myself into this mindset, I need to write consistently and much more. Currently I write every song as if I was going to release it publicly, despite there being no pressure to do so.

I feel this lyrical weakness stems from my unadvisable habit of workshopping songs for weeks, or even months. This habit leaving plenty of mental breathing room to become overly critical of what I have written, leaving me removing and rewriting large sections of songs. Moving forward, I am going to attempt finishing draft versions of songs, rather than writing them in several stages. This change hopefully allowing me to actually feel at ease with a piece lyrically, rather than repeatedly committing acts of creative self-destruction. Ever onwards and upwards.

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