A pretty common question songwriters get is “Which comes first? Music or lyrics?” and the answer is different for everyone. The answer varies even with me. Much of the time I’ll sit down and start messing around with drum beats and bass lines, a guitar riff, or piano chords. Then I’ll hum out some words to fit the tunes. Other times I will have complete sets of lyrics finished long before I know how the music will go.
With the RPM Challenge I have to record 10 songs in twenty-eight days, and I’m finding it most effective to write lyrics first. I went to 3rd Coast Cafe on Saturday night and within about two hours had finished the lyrics to song #1 which is titled “Only God Can Hear You Sing”. When I got home, I took out my accordion and started to map out the chords. Within 5 more hours, I had most of the song recorded. I still need to come up with music for the bridge, and when that’s done it’s time to put down the vocal track.
Now, back to quality vs. quantity…
I think these lyrics are pretty good. But I don’t have time to be confident, I only have time to trust. I’ve been writing songs for about thirty years, so I’d like to think my instincts are good enough that I’m going to come up with something decent.
There’s no time to waste! Today I came up with the lyrics to song #2 which is called “Teeth But Didn’t Bite”, which is about the crippling nature of fear. I’m sitting at Kopi Cafe and have 1 hour and 38 minutes left on my laptop battery which I am going to use to tweak some of the words and ideas. Incidentally, I’m using the Evernote App to keep track of all the lyrics. It’s a nice bit of software that allows the songs to stay in sync across all my devices.
So, back to tweaking I go. Thanks for reading and I’ll check in again with you soon!