Diary of a Songwriter
Writing a song can’t be that hard, right? Threadbare editor-in-chief, Aoife O’ Connor finds out...
eing able to write flawless lyrics has always been dream of mine every since I was a teenager swooning over Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On.’ Thankfully, I’ve outgrown Celine and her power ballads and have since moved onto singing (well attempting) songs more within my vocal range. As you might be well aware, folk music is awash with talented lyricists who I have the utmost respect and admiration for. So I’ve decided to finally take the plunge and go about writing my very first song. As a journalist words tend to come to me pretty easily. You hit the odd brick wall, but give me a strong coffee and my old reliable iTunes playlist and before long I’ve hopped the wall, on the other side laughing at what seemed like an impossible hurdle. This time round though, I’m not so sure I’ll be laughing all that soon. I’ve decided to sign up for a songwriting course which will take place over eight long weeks in which I will be personally tutored by the talented Mick Flannery who I’ve known since I first met him two years ago when he was on the road in Ireland promoting his second studio album ‘White Lies.’ A former stone mason, he’s proof that with the right attitude and dedication anyone can write wonderful lyrics. My first assignment was to listen to my favourite artists and songs and write down the lyrics and what I like about them. In the lead up to this monumental decision I’ve been listening to a wide range of artists, examining the lyrics, the songs composition and making sense of the point or message of the story that they are trying to get across.
Since I was interviewing Josh Ritter for this launch issue of Threadbare (see page 34), I delved into his albums both past and present. To say the least his words are astounding. ‘The Curse’ on his latest album, ‘So The World Runs Away’ is simply captivating. The song tells the story so eloquently as he does, of a Egyptian mummy discovered by an archaeologist with whom he falls in love with. The song begins ever so simply, “He opens his eyes/ Falls in love at first sight/ With the girl in the doorway/ What beautiful lines/ Heart full of life/ After thousands of years, what a face to wake up to.” Emotion overflows from Ritter’s lyrics so much so my heart was heavy when the song came to an end. Since he has been named one of the Greatest Songwriters of our time, perhaps I was setting the bar a little too high. Next up were Local Natives, who are slowly but steadily getting recognition for their stunning debut album ‘Gorilla Manor.’ Like the California lifestyle, these boys’ lyrics are laid back and effortless. Take their first single ‘Airplanes,’ which is an ode to lead singer Taylor Rice’s grandfather who died before he was born. The heartfelt lyrics give a fleeting glimpse of what the man was like, “The desk where you sit inside of a frame made of wood/ I keep those chopsticks you had from when you taught abroad in Japan.” After clicking repeat a couple of times, the whole prospect of putting pen to paper and writing my own song, be it inspiration from imagination or memory did seem less daunting. Turn the page so you can see for yourself the lyrics of Josh Ritter and Local Natives! (Oh and turn to page 64 to learn how to play the songs on the guitar).
NEXT MONTH: Aoife checks in with a progress report.
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