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“Music is the soundtrack of your life.” – Dick Clark
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Issue 39   May, 2016

Rhyme and rhythm: Musicians know how to write

Dear Sue,
With the Billboard Music Awards taking place tonight, it seems timely to take another look at the masterful job musicians do at touching our hearts and souls. Their storytelling calls on many of the writer’s tools for expressive writing, such as:

Using metaphors and similes
Pale as a lightbulb / hanging on a wire
– The Tragically Hip, New Orleans is Sinking

Smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy
– Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk

Drawing on the senses:
The morning light steals across my windowpane / where webs of snow are driftin’
– Gordon Lightfoot, Song for a Winter’s Night

Using familiar words in unexpected ways:
When my soul was in the lost-and-found / You came along to claim it
– Carole King, Tapestry

Using rhyme and rhythm
This is my fight song / Take back my life song / Prove I’m alright song
– Rachel Platten, Fight Song

'Cause we're young and we're reckless / We'll take this way too far / It'll leave you breathless / Or with a nasty scar
– Taylor Swift, Blank Space

Expressing emotions and stories:
I’ve done all I can / to stand on her steps / with my heart in my hands
– John Mayer, Daughters

When I'm away, I will remember how you kissed me / Under the lamppost back on Sixth street / Hearing you whisper through the phone / "Wait for me to come home"
– Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid, Photograph

Being playful
I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's / His hair was perfect
Warren Zevon, Werewolves of London

So if you’re looking for writing inspiration, why not turn up the tunes?

When I last wrote about what writers can learn from musicians, I received this feedback:

“I love people, like musicians, who write rhythmically. An example would be Pat Conroy who wrote Prince of Tides. He writes likes he talks and talks like he’s singing.”
Barb Sawyers
 
“Here's one I've always loved although it never made it to the Top 10. It's not metaphorical but it is expressive: ‘I've got tears in my ears from lyin’ on my back / in my bed while I cry over you.’”
Jeanette King
(According to Google, it was written by Harold Barlow and sung by Homer and Jethro, the Weird Al Yankovic of the 1940s and 1950s.)

What music lyrics speak to you? HiFreelance writer Sue Hornert "reply" and share! And let me know if you'd like help making your newsletters sing. Sue's signature

Photo by Rob Jeanveau of IABC/Golden Horseshoe.

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