What is in a word, a lyric, a poem?
We are bombarded by words, phrases and catchy soundbites wherever we go, it is totally relentless, and for us to escape somewhere devoid of words is now very difficult. However for our ancestors solitude was easy to find and therefore words were recognised as having far more power than they do today. Because of the abundance words they seem to have been devalued, or have they?
When you realise that your pocket is being picked continuously by what you have been told which always seems to come from some authority somewhere, some scientist, some politician, some expert, one begins to see that words have not lost any of their power to influence. However we have been taught that power does not reside in words per se because that would be too ridiculous too unscientific but I believe they do. They are hypnotic state changing bundles of power.
As a musician I continuously see the power of the great pop song which seems to have its own life force about it. It seems never to die, some going on for hundreds of years if we classify great choral music as pop songs of their time.
The composers of hymns knew very well the power of words setting quotes from spiritual books to music but something that great works such as these and great poetry have in common is that they allude to something and are not literal. If the words are just what they say literally there is no power in any of the above. Maybe it is our involvement with words in the literal sense that has blinded us to what they can really do however this is not been missed by either the mass media or politicians so why have we lost faith in the power of words?
Maybe our loss of faith comes from the realisation that we cannot easily make change by logical argument on the face of it this seems to fly in the face of what we been taught but the reality is that reasoned debate does not have the power of the words behind them because they are the wrong words in the wrong setting.
Over the past year we have seen that both the UK and in America where one side will play the emotional card against the other sides logical argument and in both cases the emotional card won. The emotional card creates a power that manifests itself in the soundbite just in the same way that a good piece of poetry can eloquently draw to it and emotional response of the listener. Logical arguments not do this unless you are somebody skilled in rhetoric, of which many politicians today clearly are not.
There is power in the poetic then there must be more to words than what they mean consciously, think of the power of a great song lyric to conjure up a memory or a sense of being part of something bigger, great pop songs excel at this, particularly the ones that transcend time.
So how do we get back into the power of the words? Maybe we should put the scientific rational aspect to one side and feel out what the words mean to you as you start to craft the lyrics. Do not tell a listener what it is but paint a picture with words in their mind. Again suspending your belief in what you’ve been taught about the logic of word is a good exercise and obviously reading poetry and lyrics of people who inspire you will help greatly. Take chances with words, express something deep think of it as a courtship with your own language.
Maybe this is what we can take into the New Year; writing great songs. What would you do with this great skill? Dreaming about this might help in putting them down on paper in the most picturesque way.
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