In Evernote, I have a list of principles I aim to live by that I read each and every morning called “Good Day.” And truthfully, if I stick to these principles, I’ll have not only a good day, but I’ll live a great and full life.
Towards the end of this list, there’s a principle I’ve been harnessing to make me a better songwriter. It reads: Dive deep and catch the lyrics living.
The idea to dive deep is found in the book Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison, and I believe Anne Lamott may have touched on the idea in her book Bird by Bird. Diving deep invokes the story of an ancient pearl diver.
A native girl was diving for pearls, as she did every day. But on this morning, she saw the most beautiful pearl she’d ever seen. Its mysterious glow was calling to her. But the pearl was far deeper than any she had ever harvested.
Each morning, she would take her deepest breath and dive as far as she could. At first, she couldn’t even make it half way to the pearl. But each morning, she’d find she could dive just a few inches deeper. Until one day, she was able to retrieve the pearl.
Songwriting is the same way.
You slowly and patiently teach yourself to dive deeper for more meaningful lyrics. To look more inward. To dissect your circumstances and the world around you. To question it, and to look at it from a fresh perspective.
Catch The Lyrics Living
Lyrics are alive. They are more than words on a page. They’re truths and ideas and emotions captured and molded carefully into words. When a lyric first hits you, don’t let it escape. You must capture it!
And you can’t just write it down. You have to chew on it and digest it. You have to figure out what it’s trying to say to you. Is there a better way to phrase it? Is there more to the lyric than there seems on the surface? Is there a story to be told or a lesson to be learned from it? You need to capture all this while the lyric is still living in your heart.
I use Evernote to capture my lyrics. In Evernote, I have a notebook called Lyric Field. And I set up a little iOS app called FastEver to quickly add a note to that specific notebook. It’s much faster than waiting for Evernote to load, and will wait to sync until you have service if for some reason you’re without it.
Capturing ideas and lyrics is so important as a songwriter. It’s your responsibility to catch those thoughts and put them into words, and to share them with the world. If you don’t, and you let the lyric die there in your heart without taking it apart and recording it, you’ve robbed the world of a pearl that was meant to be seen and experienced by all.