A list song
A metaphor for my list song article Photo: "Foods I Like, Poesy's list, the flat, Hackney, London, UK" by gruntzooki CC

Write a list song

A list song is a song based on (unsurprisingly) a list; it could be as simple as a list of the things you like or a list of things related to a particular topic. In this exercise, you are going to write your own list song.

To get started, first have a listen to some popular list songs (look for the lyrics online before listening).

  • “50 ways to leave your lover” (Paul Simon)
  • “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (Bob Dylan)
  • “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” (Chuck Berry)
  • “Art Eats Art” (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)
  • “California Girls” (The Beach Boys)
  • “If I Were a Boy (Beyoncé) [6]
  • “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin)
  • “Man on the Moon” (R.E.M.)
  • “Never Gonna Give You Up” (Rick Astley)
  • “Not” (Big Thief)
  • “Penny Lane” (Beatles)

Now, get started. Choose a topic to your liking and make a list; write down as many items as you can – and then write some more. 🙂 At this point don’t worry about trying to write lyrics – all you are doing is gathering ideas and getting your creativity into gear.

Once you have done that, experiment with the order of your items – to find something in then that makes sense to you.

Now start thinking about how you could turn these into lyrics; you could either use each item as an idea for a verse or string the items together in a way that rhymes and have a rhythm to them. While doing this, play your instrument and sing the words/phrases in your list until you find a way into your new song. Don’t worry about finding a ‘great chord progression’ just strum/play and sing. You start by sticking to a single chord – and let your instincts tell you when to change and what to change to. You are experimenting with the words as you do that; the words themselves and they way you are singing them will suggest a direction for your melody and chord changes.

Post your results to the Facebook group. I am looking forward to hear ing your new song. 🙂

Photo: “Foods I Like, Poesy’s list, the flat, Hackney, London, UK” by gruntzooki CC