If you plan on being a great lyricist, you need to spend considerable time studying the master songwriters who came before you. Think about it. Who’s going to make a better Chef? Someone who has only tasted his own cooking or someone who has eaten at many different 5-star restaurants?
There’s a quick and easy way to do this. All you need is iTunes and a couple of AppleScripts. If you’re a Windows user, it’s not as simple, but it is still possible.
Get Lyrical is an AppleScript that will grab lyrics for the current or selected track and store them in the lyrics meta tag. If it can’t find the lyrics, then Google Lyric Search is a quick little script to help you find and store the lyrics manually.
Windows users can download iArt ($10) which will also fetch album art for you.
Now that you’ve got lyrics for your MP3 collection, it’s time to do some active listening. There’s something different about listening to a lyric in real time and seeing an entire lyric laid out in front of you. You can see how rhymes connect, how the verses progress, and see the lyric’s big picture when you read the entire lyric at once.
Pay close attention to beginnings and endings. Opening lines and rhyming positions are natural spotlights. Notice what words your favorite artists put in these places. Count lines and syllables. Get a feel for the flow. Watch the point of view and look for unique metaphors.
There’s a lot to pay attention to so narrow down your first scan of the lyric and look for a single lyric writing technique. Then move on to another. Finally, see how you can use what you’ve learned in your next song.
The bottom line is to find the time to study lyrics. Having lyrics stored in your music library or iPod makes it much easier to do.