Saturday, March 6, 2010

Let's Write a Hit Song

Today, boys and girls, we’re going to write a Hit Song using the front page of today’s newspaper as our sole source of inspiration. Impossible you say? Maybe, but do you really have anything else better to do? No, I didn’t think so.

You’ll be happy to know that being able to read music or play a musical instrument is not required in writing a Hit Song. All you need is a pencil and a sheet of paper. A highlighter might come in handy, but I’ll leave that up to you.

To begin, read the headlines on the front page of today’s newspaper and find a noun that piques your interest. (A noun is a person, place or thing. The word “pique” is a verb – but let's not get technical.) Write your noun on the sheet of paper then say it out loud, over and over again, until it no longer makes sense. Weird, isn’t it?

Next, find a word that rhymes with your chosen noun and write it NEAR your chosen noun, but not right next to it (you’ll need that space later for other useful words). For example, my chosen noun is “Starbucks.” And what rhymes with Starbucks? Woodchucks, of course.

Now, write down a few useful words in the aforesaid empty space (free associate them right off the top of your head), just to see how they fit. Don’t over-analyze what you’ve come up with because that will ruin spontaneity. Spontaneity is good. Analyzing is bad. (The Beatles never analyzed anything, and if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for you!)

For example, the first line of my new Hit Song goes like this: “Starbucks don’t serve woodchucks on Fridays.” See how easy that flows? See how I use perfectly good words to express an idea? See how I totally disregard certain grammatical conventions? Now it’s your turn, and don’t come back until you’re finished.

(WARNING: Never attend a grammatical convention. Listening to people fight about when to use a comma can make you want to drive your car off the nearest cliff.)

Back so soon? Good for you. Now it’s time to write our second sentence – and I promise it will be a breeze. Our second sentence is going to contain a bunch of gobbledy-gook – like “Oh-ly shock-a-diddle waddle musty huck-a-do.” Gobbledy-gook is great for audience sing-a-longs. Next, we repeat the first sentence (the one with our noun), then repeat the gobbledy-gook, but only the “Reader’s Digest” version. My version goes something like this:

Starbucks don’t serve woodchucks on Fridays
Oh-ly shock-a-diddle waddle musty huck-a-do
Starbucks don’t serve woodchucks on Fridays
Oh-ly shock-a-diddle huck-a-do.

With these four simple sentences, we now have “The Hook” of the song. “The Hook” is what music people refer to as “that part of a song that bounces around in the detainee’s head, forcing them to tell the truth when all other forms of torture, including water boarding, fail to achieve results. The detainee then has no recourse but to buy millions of CDs, thus forcing us to become billionaires (like we would really complain).”

Now that you have “The Hook,” find, circle, highlight, cut out, underline, or jot down (whatever floats your boat) a lot of other good words, string them together in a semi-coherent fashion resembling poetry, but refer to them as – what people in the music industry call them – lyrics.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Lyrics that rhyme are fine, but non-rhyming lyrics give the impression you are a deep thinker and that your song must hold some powerful meaning to your life. They’ll discuss your lyrics in songwriter groups, speculating why you chose to say “waddle” instead of “daddle,” and may even dub you as “The New John Lennon.”

And now that you have “The Hook” and a bunch of lyrics, you’re basically finished! Congratulations! You just wrote a hit song! Now it’s time for you to head out to Nashville, sell your song to Dolly Parton, become rich and famous, buy yourself a Learjet, move to Vegas, gamble away your money at the Black Jack table, be chased by the IRS for owing $3.4 billion in back taxes, skip the country to Aruba, and live happily ever after in a cave with three goats and a llama.

And to think – just five minutes ago you were just an ordinary guy, sitting on the couch reading the newspaper, waiting for a NASCAR race to begin.

1 comment:

  1. I know a family that has a llama and goats. The goats scream all day, but the llama hums -- no joke! Walks up and down the fenceline, humming!