Writing Lyrics You Can Feel
by Kapa Freeman
Do you want to write song lyrics that people can feel? Here's a trick from one of my favorite CCM songwriters. Thank Matthew West for this one.
One of his more recent songs, "Truth Be Told" really pulls the heart strings. He gets this effect by using a technique that I call "Imagery pairs.".
Before I get into how to make one, let me show you why they make lyrics so easy to feel. People are hardwired to connect more with visual lyrics.
It's simply human nature. If you want someone to feel something, you can't just tell them about it. They have to experience it for themselves. And if you want them to experience it for themselves, they have to SEE it for themselves.
It's one thing to tell someone that their words hurt you. It's another thing to tell them: "You stabbed me in the heart with a sentence!"
So, the more visual, the more emotional impact, but there is a drawback. Sometimes lyrics can get TOO visual. And you're using so many images, people don't actually get what you're trying to say. That's where "imagery pairs" come in. This is a technique I developed from listening to songs like "Truth Be Told."
Basically, it's just a pair of two lines of lyrics. One is a statement. The other is a picture. The order doesn't matter as longs as you have both. The statement makes sure people know what you're talking about. The picture makes sure they feel it.
Enter Matthew West:
- "Lie number one you're supposed to have it all together. (*Statement*)
- And when they ask how you're doing Just smile and tell them, 'Never better' (*Picture*)"
The first line is simply a statement of a fact. No image in your head at all. The second paints a scene of a person asking a question, and the other responding with a false smile... Paints a picture in your head. It's a subtle picture, but it's a picture.
It's strategies like these that make the difference between songs that are "pretty good..." and songs that people are hardwired to love. All it takes is an understanding of the psychology behind the songs we love. The strategies that Hit-songwriters use to write them, and having a process that puts those strategies in your songs consistently.
Kapa Freeman is the Founder and Songwriting Coach of The Intentional Songwriter, whose goal is to help musicians become publisher-ready songwriters so they can access songwriter-only income streams that pay more money for less of their time.
After taking an "assembly line approach" to songwriting, Kepa added consistency to his songwriting and went from song rejections to publishing deals over the course of a year. Now he uses this same approach to help musicians go from beginning to publisher-ready songwriters in a matter of weeks.