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Writing lyrics without the words ME, YOU or I

 
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Lightweight
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Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 59
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:27 pm    Post subject: Writing lyrics without the words ME, YOU or I Reply with quote

Has anyone done this successfully? Very difficult i find.
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billbaker
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Joined: 31 May 2006
Posts: 2199
Location: Vienna, Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Off the top of my head... It depend on how you classify the type of song you are writing. Type - not style. And if you have an extensive/eclectic knowledge of pop you can find some.

First - don't try to write a love song - lennon/mcc said that I-You-Me were the cornerstones of their stuff - they went out of the way to throw in as many pronouns as possible.

Advice songs - You Aughta Know, You better watch out..., "Forget" You - hard to write in 3rd person.

Relationship, break-up, blues; all heavily personal. Don't put words in someone else's mouth - their voice is almost always first person.

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What doesn't have the dreaded I-You-Me? The impersonal/objective. You aren't listening to Country. You'll find lots of "story" songs without 1st person references. Typically, country "story" type songs only introduce the "I" as a twist at the end to personalize it.

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There's an inherent distance to writing without gratuitous pronouns - the work arounds can get awkward tho' - you'll start talking about yourself like Elmo does on Sesame Street "Elmo is going to have breakfast now... Elmo is hungry because Elmo just woke up..."

You can maintain the impersonal for only so long before you have to throw in an I-you-me out of grammatical necessity. You can get away with it for a while if you write "Image" or objective/descriptive lyrics (think trippy 60's era Rolling Stones or Doors). These fall into a category that classical poets used to call odes - praise of an object or place that related the color of the experience of winter rather than saying "snow was falling on ME". But without pronouns it will start sounding like Haiku.

And that might actually be a good place to start. Haiku is almost exclusively that image/place driven 3rd person/no self (dare I say Zen?) lyrical style. Get a book of haiku poems and see what you can do with re-writing the images into English standard poetic metre.


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billbaker

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