SUPPORTING YOUR SONG’S BIG IDEA
That is the songwriter equivalent of Michelangelo being asked why there was an odd lump of granite on the angel’s head and answering “I thought it resembled a squirrel, so I left it.” Settling for “non-angel” lines will KILL your song just as they would mess up your statue if you were a sculptor. Those lines take the listener out of your song, which usually means that they move on to something else. If you couldn’t see the angel well enough to clearly carve it out, neither will the listener.
So, how do you reveal the angels in those song ideas? I start with a laser focus on exactly what it is I’m trying to say. The first step I take is to do a blueprint of what I intend to communicate in each section, with the chorus and my title being the core of my blueprint. Basically, a blueprint is an outline that contains one complete sentence that communicates what you want to say in each section of your song.
In some songs, I start with the song’s big idea and then flesh it out. Either way works, but in this song, we wanted to set a scene with lots of visuals and then bring in our “angel”. So, how do you apply that in your own songs. If you have done a clear blueprint, it’s easy to take your first draft of a lyric and compare it to your blueprint. Mark each line that doesn’t directly set up or support your big idea. If it’s heading off on a tangent, it’s not part of the angel and it needs to go.
Be especially careful that you don’t let desperation for a rhyme cause you to leave a big ugly lump of granite on the angel’s face. If you can’t say something that reveals the angel, then change your rhyme to something that works better. And learn to let go of lines that might be great or clever, but don’t give you a clear view of the angel. If you can learn to clearly see the angel you are writing about and convert that into a blueprint, you’ve won half of the battle. The other half is simply staying true to the blueprint and carving away things that don’t contribute to or support it.
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