Reflecting on my process for writing the lyrics.
Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

Reflecting on my process for writing lyrics

If you have ever wondered what goes through someone’s mind when they are writing lyrics? You might find this interesting. It is based on notes I sent to David Vachell (songwriter and Songwriting Magic Group administrator) prior to our recent Songwriting Magic live Zoom event; reflecting on my own lyric writing process for the song, I hope and pray, you get the love you need.

Stumbling across a tune

While messing around on my guitar I came up with a tune. A tune that I felt was expressing sadness.

From that vague notion I was writing down lines and words, just trying to get some kind of start. I wrote down the line, ‘I see your coat on a wooden peg’, which instantly made me think of someone losing their partner.

I was also thinking about the podcaster and comedian, Mark Marin – as he recency lost his girlfriend – so the idea of grief formed in my head. I listen to his Podcast religiously, so I was well aware of what he was going through.

From that I started wondering if there was such a thing as songs about grief? I did a Google search and it turns out there are a host of such songs.

Trying to write lyrics that are honest and truthful

I realised I did not want to write anything on this topic that was flippant or not honest. It needed to be truthful and not treat the subject lightly.

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Not wanting to just make up ‘clever story’ I tried to draw on my own experience. When my mother passed away I was not present. We did not realise the severity of her condition, so did not expect her to pass. On top of that, when we were not informed of how poorly she was, which meant we were unable to get to the hospital in time. As you can imagine it wasn’t a happy time and I remember it well.

That was in my head. However I did not want it to seem as if this was a documentation of a personal experience – so I was trying to make it true – but not singular.

Although I wrote down lots of words and phrases and went down lots of lyrical dead-ends. However, when I wrote the first verse it all came out exactly as it is now, within a few seconds.


Not say goodbye
Not comfort you
Not hold your hand
Nor see you through

Staying away from Cliché

The second verse also went down lots of dead ends – relating to ‘dark clouds’ and ‘grieving’ – which all felt cliched. Again I drew from my own experience and tried to think what my real emotions where when my mother passed away. One of those was anger. Anger at how it happened and anger that I was not there. Illogical, but that was what I felt. So I used the idea of an ‘angry heart’ as the core idea for the second verse.


An angry heart
Can never heal
It bears the scars
Of the pain you feel

The end of the ‘journey’

After that I brought my songwriter experience to bear and realised that the song needed to come to a satisfying close – as far as the arc of the ‘story’ was concerned. So I wrote the last verse to be a lightening of the mood and to give a feeling of hope.

As for the chorus – it came together in bits and pieces. I started with something quite complex and wordy but ended up with two simple and repetitive phrases.


I hope and pray
You get the love you need

That’s my story of writing those lyrics for the song I hope and pray, you get the love you need.

The Finished Lyric

I hope and pray, you get the love you need


Not say goodbye
Not comfort you
Not hold your hand
Nor see you through


Your memories
Of yesterday
The life you held
you now replay


An angry heart
Can never heal
It bears the scars
Of the pain you feel


So now we pray
You get the love you need
So now we pray
You get the love you need
So now we pray
You get the love you need
So now we pray
You get the love you need


I hope some day
I see you smile
I hope some day
I hear you sing
I hope some day
You find your peace
I know some day
You’ll get release


I hope and pray
You get the love you need
I hope and pray
You get the love you need
I hope and pray
You get the love you need
I hope and pray
You get the love you need
I hope and pray
You get the love you need
I hope and pray
You get the love you need


Not say goodbye
Not comfort you

Epilogue

By the time I’d written the words, I’d gone off the tune. It felt like a bit of a dirge. I changed the tune and the rhythm and re-wrote the lyrics to fit. I recorded a rough demo. However, despite the creative energy I’ve put into crafting this song, I’m not happy with it – it hasn’t got the magic. I’ve since abandoned it.

Another set of orphaned lyrics. Feel free to take them and use them as a catalyst for you own song.

If you have any thoughts in relation to this article, I’d love to hear them. Please add your comments below.

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

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