I’m not much of a lyricist. I have nothing but respect for those who can fully express themselves and get their points across within a three or four-minute song, but I need a leeway of around 100 000 words to do the same thing.
Having written a few simple songs on piano and guitar, I have tried multiple times to produce lyrics. The results are generally quite unpleasant. I never aim to produce such self-indulgent, pompous-sounding lyrics, and am always quite taken aback by how awful they sound. I’ve had a few attempts this year, most notably after listening to the Triple J Hottest 100, mishearing a lyric and deciding that “Inuit Bones” would be a good name for a song. Most of the time though, I try to avoid writing lyrics. I have enough distraction from my novels already.
There is only one set of lyrics I’ve written that I truly like. In 2010 when Crowded House were working on their album Intriguer, there was a competition (I think) to write and sing the title track’s lyrics. This track, I believe, was dropped from the album, and I don’t think lyrics were ever chosen (please correct me if I’m wrong). Though I didn’t submit them, I did attempt to write lyrics for “Intriguer.”
Sitting on my futon in my room, I wrote a commentary of what I could see around me and what I’d been doing recently, along with a few randomly drifting thoughts that were insistent they be recorded. Then I cut up the paper, put all the slips in a hat, and drew them out, one-by-one. The magic hat technique, it seems, is the only way for me to produce half-decent lyrics. Still a little pompous maybe, but I don’t think it’s so bad here. Listen to the tune, see if you can hear where they fit in.
Plug in your ears and let’s go, she won’t be talking when you start your next conversation
Happy suns and dancing hearts aren’t something to be gained by swindling
And I won’t talk for you, no.
Pull until every lash comes out, eyes all brittle and your lips morose
But keep a tight grip on her heart, you’re not a snapped cello string or some peg that won’t turn
And I won’t talk for you. I won’t talk for you.
I won’t talk for you. I won’t talk for you.
Happy suns and dancing hearts, come see light fall like a dart, come on now and play your part
You spent all day preparing and the next to recover, like an epic sing, like Carmina
Filled beyond measure with eloquence and understanding, but she’s still waiting, the plastic keyboards hammer it home
Visit her world for a day, be staggered, struck across the face
Hear the song of a beast, lion, lamb, or a friend
But I won’t talk for you
If you can’t help yourself, tell me why the three jackets over the back of your chair?
In over your head, and God knows you’ll end up sleeping on the floor again
Can’t just finish on a minor note, can do much more than that
But oh, for the cry of a whale, no creature louder to cover up
Time has it’s limits, but if your mind’s made up call to her
See light fall like a silver bullet
It’s no exquisite mistake