Skip to content

about rewriting

... and rewriting rewrites ;-)

Once you've completed a song text after struggling with the flow, refining the meter, checking its rhyme structure for consistency, or tweaking it here and there it has become your 'Baby' and you feel responsible for its 'health' and integrity. Smaller adaptions are often needed anyway to fix the flow as soon as the song is actually sung and a particular line or intonation sounds clumsy. But it's hard to change anything substantially.

Yet if you are writing for other people you have to do exactly that all the time. Eventually you get used to it. Sometimes I gave up - namely when I was asked to add another verse in a song that tells a story. I find it next to impossible to add a 'chapter' to a complete story without messing it up. It's easier with 'generic' lyrics that simply descibe some mood or attitude in a general manner. What I call 'episodic lyrics' (each verse dealing with something quite different but somehow covering a common ground) are also easily extendible.

I wrote, adapted, and rewrote "silver stream" for a Canadian partner who never finished the song as far as I know. Since I like its lyrics a lot I decided to set them to music myself which required more adaptions. All minor ones - no harm done.

These days, after finishing a new backing track I browsed my 'unsung' lyrics and discovered "too much" that seemed to fit well. Except that I would need verses (or actually two blocks of two verses) that were twice as long, and a bridge that would have to be 2.5 times as long. The chorus also needed to be adapted, and shortened a bit. Fortunately, "too much" are 'generic' lyrics.

As the new verses are twice as long I could simply join the two original verses. That was a quick one:


in the park, in the zoo
at the bar, on the loo
whatever I do
I keep thinking of you

... (chorus)

on the road, in the street
where I go, where I eat
where my heart beats
I keep feeling the heat


became:

in the park, in the zoo
at the bar, on the loo
wherever I am, whatever I do
I keep thinking of you - thinking of you

on the road, in the street
where I go, where I eat
where I live and my heart beats
I keep feeling the heat - feeling the heat


All I now needed was another block with the same meter and rhyme structure:

sound asleep, wide awake
during work, at my break
when I have a tea and cake
I am feeling the ache - feeling the ache

when stressed out, when at ease
when pissed off, when I'm pleased
if it is "Wow!", if is "Geeze!"
you get me down on my knees - down on my knees


The bridge could be extended in a similar manner:

give me a sign
if I stand a chance
or show me a way
out of my trance


No change so far. Then I just added the following parts:

drop me a note
give me a vote
or make up your mind
to dash my hope

hear my plea
come clean with me
and end my agony


Also the chorus was rather generic and repetitive, which made it easy to shorten.

Original chorus:

I want you
too much
I need you
too much
I love you
too much
you mean much
too much
to me


New chorus:

I want you too much
I need you too much
you mean much too much
to me


I may have to add a little something in the last 'line' making it "too much for me" or so. I will know when I sing it.

Stay tuned, have fun,
Bernd

don't tell me what I know

Done! Once the ideas come flowing...

You only need to find just one perfect match for each part of the melody (verse, chorus, lift, bridge), then the rest is routine. As lifts Holger wanted just "Aaaah" as he sung in the sketch. Nothing for me to do there. Then he told me that he would need four verses, and that he would like to have a male and a femal part in the song because MotorPlanet has two singers, himself and Nici. That meant that I should have to tell two different stories - or perspectives - that, in a way, share the same message.

I made them both cheat on the other ;-) I'm quite happy with what I've come up, I hope MotorPlanet will be, too:


HE
no use that you beat 'bout the bush
don't think that I don't know what happened
I sort of smell another man

hey girl, _ just get off your tush
I'm sick of all your lame excuses
just make your exit while you can

Aaaah...

don't tell me
don't tell me
what I know

I can see
I can see
'cause it shows

SHE
you're right it's gone on for awhile
did you think that I'm your possession
I have the right to have some fun

I am honest, without guile
while you had girls in quick succession
maybe it's better if I'm gone

Aaaah...

don't tell me
don't tell me
what I know

I can see
I can see
'cause it shows

BOTH
don't tell me
don't tell me
what I know

I can see
I can see
'cause it shows

......

NOTES:
"hey girl, _ just get off your tush"
needs a little rest after "girl" to match the tune

"man", "can", "fun", "gone"
might be sung as
ma-an, ca-an, fu-un, gu-un (to fit the 'template' perfectly)

there's no such thing as writer's block!

Ever heard someone say he's got writer's block? Actually this tells quite a bit about the speaker - more so than about his condition. Translated it simply means "I'm an arrogant shit". How so?

First
"Writer's block" in the strict sense does not exist. If you can - physically - write, all you still need are thoughts to write down. Any thoughts. As there is no moment in your waking state without thoughts* there is nothing to prevent you from simply putting them down in writing. A state that could be called writer's block can not exist.

Second:
What the term actually stands for from the perspective of the 'suffering' artist is: "I cannot come up with ideas to put down at the moment that comply with my standards... because I am the greatest, I could write hits - if I didn't suffer from writer's block." If the persons in question would not believe - or try to make others believe - that they were the greatest they would have no problem writing just anything. They could always change lines, delete whole blocks of text, or rewrite the lot, couldn't they? There is no use criticizing yourself before you have done or written anything. Criticism can come once there is a result. And you need not show anybody anyway before you're satisfied yourself.

My tipp: if you want to write (lyrics, poetry, fiction, songs) simply start writing. Anything. Store in a scrap 'book' whatever you cannot use at the moment - or maybe never. And forget about writing a hit song. What's a hit and what is not is not up to you to decide anyway - the (music) market takes care of that.

Bernd



*as a matter of fact, many people actually train to achieve a state without thinking while being aware. One method is called transcendental meditation (TM). If you're good at it you manage to have no thought or perception for about one or two seconds (it seems to last much longer when you are meditating, but from the outside perspective it usually only lasts just a second or even only a fragment of a second!). The first thought that destroys this beautiful - euphoric(!) - state is "Wow, I'm not thinking", by the way. The next thought is: "Shit, I just thought that I was not thinking" ;-)

Two new MotorPlanet songs in the making

Writing for MotorPlanet, my long lasting partners, means replacing 'Gibberish' (any nonsense text that Holger sings to mark the vocal line) with proper words, or, as I call it, applying my template method.

In song #1 Holger uses fragments of an older song that we wrote together as a substitute for the chorus:

I'm gonna
I'm gonna
get my share


... sung twice, then repated. That's easy. I made it:

don't tell me
don't tell me
what I know

I can see
I can see
'cause it shows


My idea behind it: 'she' commences to tell me that there is another - but 'I' already thought as much. My proposed title will be "don't tell me what I know".

To write the verses I first have to learn how many verses there will be at the end. Holger only sent one sound file each for the verses and the chorus, so that I cannot tell the structure of the song. It's no use telling a story, only to discover later that you have to squeeze in another part or cut one out. Yet I've begun writing fragments, nontheless.

Nonsense-version/template (as far as I could make out):

Hey girl, what you're talking about
it's just my bad that I'm a sinner
but I found out that I love you


my words - at this moment:

what's all that beatin' 'bout the bush - the middle stress does not 'sit', I have to re-check against the tune
bite back what you are tryin' to say-ay - "tryin'" sung like one syllable
maybe use it with another man - crap? Maybe too cryptic

Hey girl, just get off your tush - needs a pause to fit: Hey girl _ just get off your tush
I'm sick of all your lame excuses - perfect match
just make your exit while you can - got to check the stress at the end, might not work

I actually like the second part. But it's still early days.

topline writing for myself

That's what I normally do when creating my own songs: I prepare a backing track and then try to come up with a fitting vocal line and lyrics. Track 2016-A, a rather driving track with 150 bps, will become "hell or high water" (or maybe "come hell or high water"). It's very Rock Bernd:

Baby, you do me, you do me a lot
Baby, I do you, I do you a lot
maybe it's true that we're all that we got
walking the hire wire till one day we'll drop

come
hell or high water
I told 'ya we will be fine
hell or high water
till we got to draw the line
worn out, happy, or dead

up to the climax and never look back
when done gettin' ready for the next love attack
we hardly leave time to just hit the sack
live at the limit - and no cutting back

come
hell or high water
I told 'ya we will be fine
hell or high water
till we got to draw the line
worn out, happy, or dead

come
hell or high water
I told 'ya we will be fine
hell or high water
till we got to draw the line
worn out, happy, or dead


Make love and have fun!