[MUSIC] Lyrics are very important. In fact, they're so important you could take an entire course on lyric writing and Berklee has a wonderful one on Coursera called Songwriting taught my good friend and colleague Pat Pattison. Right here right now, I'm going to share with you five skills. Five tools that you can employ to at least start making some real progress on writing better lyrics, more meaningful lyrics. Lyrics that are going to move the listener in more and deeper ways. So, the first thing is to use sensory language. Sensory language is language that basically triggers our senses. Our senses being taste, touch, sight, smell and sound. So using language that makes us put images in our brain makes us feel things. Like the last verse of Eleanor Rigby, for instance, when Father Mackenzie is wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave. That's something that whenever I hear it, I can smell the dirt. I can feel it in between my hands and I can actually see him doing this. Now, that is actually exciting areas of my brain that would not have been excited when somebody was just singing something that didn't put any sensory language into the lyric at all. So number one, use sensory language. Number two is to tell us a story. Stories are basically the oldest art form that there is. We used to sit around the campfires and tell each other stories. And if you think about it, almost every single art form in western art that takes place over time basically tells stories. Whether these are TV shows, or movies, or short stories, or novels, or operas, we are just suckers for storytelling and this doesn't have to be a huge story. This can be little vignettes. Paul Simon is great at writing little, teeny stories that maybe only take four lines. I'd advise that you go listen to Graceland. There are so many just little stories. Each verse is a little bit of a story and it's just enough to put you there, to put some images in your brain and to really connect emotionally. I think the reason we respond to stories so much is that they're so human and all great art really tells us something about the human experience. Because we're all interested in what other humans are going through, because we have the same emotions. We have the same feelings. So do a little bit of story telling and that will help keep people really involved in your songs, as well. Number three is to avoid cliches. So many songs just put together one cliche after another, after another. Oftentimes, when I'm doing workshops with people who are inspiring to write songs, we'll look at the lyric and every single line almost is a cliche that you could name a song after. And if you get on Google and you type in, I love you so much or she left me or she'll never be back again or almost every line. You can Google it and you would find probably five or ten songs that are also named that exact same thing. There are many ways to say something and just stringing together cliches is basically surrendering the vocal, I think [LAUGH] to just getting into the background. Again, to reference Paul Simon, he did a clinic here at Berklee a few years ago where he was talking about the second verse of a song called Darling Lorraine. And he said, he sat down and the first line he wrote was actually a cliche about all his life he'd been a wanderer. And he said, he wrote that line and thought, man, that's really a cliche. What am I going to do about that? And he decided to turn it on its head. In the very next line, he said, well, not really. I've always just lived close to my parents. So, he actually realized he wrote that cliche and then kind of decided how to handle it. I think it's almost impossible to just avoid cliches entirely and never ever write a cliche, but I think it's important to be intentional about it. If you're going to write a cliche, make sure that what comes before it and what comes after it makes it to where you're not just writing a cliche after a cliche, after a cliche and getting people to not even listen to the lyrics at all. Number four is to save something for later. The way that you can tell whether or not you're doing this is if you will look at and sing through the first verse and the first chorus. If everything you're going to say in the song is basically already said by the time you get through the first verse and the first chorus, then you might think about making that first verse the third verse. Or taking some lines out of that or say, doing something to where there's a reason for us to stick around. If you've basically just given us the entire story, the entire thesis of the song in that first verse and the first chorus, then why should we stick around for the second verse, for the bridge, for the last verse? You want to have a little something going on that's going to advance the story. That's going to have a different point of view on it. Maybe is going to bring in a different character. Maybe you give us a different example of what that main theme is. So think about saving something for later and it's going to really make it more interesting for us to stick around. And then number five is I want to challenge you to try writing a great chorus. There's this old adage among record producers, which is that a good chorus is something you can sing along with the second time it comes around. And a great chorus is a chorus that you'll actually be singing before it gets done the first time. There is a hormone that is produced in the human brain called oxytoscin, which is released in different situations, including when people are making love with each other, when mothers are breastfeeding their young. And it's called the trust hormone, because it has the consequence of actually creating trust between the people who are present when it is being produced. Interestingly enough that this oxytocin hormone is actually produced as well when people sing together. So, it can be a really powerful thing to write a chorus that is going to have people sing together. When I work with young singer, songwriters, they're often a little freaked out at first when I suggest that this one line right here is really good. You might want to repeat that three times and make that into a chorus. And when we write it down, they see it written three times in a row. They're just kind of startled. They're thinking, can we do that? I mean, aren't we supposed to be coming up with new material? And of course, it's fine obviously to have that same line happen a few times. In fact, it's really desirable. The Beatles were fantastic about writing great choruses. If you think about Hey Jude, for instance, great chorus. Very innovative song form, by the way, I would point out. The chorus doesn't get there until almost halfway through the record and then the entire second half of the record is the chorus over, and over, and over again. Back in the day when The Beatles were actually recording and putting out records that song Hey Jude, which is half chorus was their best selling single ever by a factor of about 2.5. So, something about having a great chorus is not a bad thing. And if you think about so many Beatles songs, they are very concise. They have few words in the chorus and they have one central theme. All You Need is Love is a great example, as well. It just repeats that line a few times and then kind of turns it on its head a little bit, and then comes right back. The rock band Queen, when they were coming up and they were starting to get better gigs and opening for bigger acts. They noticed that the big acts that they were opening for, their audiences would sing along to their songs and they actually got together, Freddie Mercury and Brian May. And said, we need to write some songs that people can actually sing along with the chorus if we want to get to this next level. They went home after deciding this and they wrote We Will Rock You, and they wrote We Are the Champions. And both of those are fantastic sing-alongs obviously, and that did do exactly what they were hoping it would do. It took them to the next level. So if you've never written a song that really has a strong chorus, has a chorus that's so catchy and has so few words that people can actually sing it by the end of the first time that it comes up in the song. I just encourage you to give it a shot, you might really like it. People might really respond to it in a way that it could be a revelation for your songwriting. So once again, use sensory language, tell us a story, avoid cliches, save something for later. Don't just tell us everything in the first verse and chorus. And finally, try writing a great chorus.