Today's guest blogger Joe Scala combined a Beatles approved chord with a really original approach to writing lyric in one of his recent songs...
I used an interesting process on the FAWM song Take A Photograph. I wrote the moody echo-y music first, but I had no idea where to go with the lyrics. The obvious direction was something along the lines of “I am lonely, I am empty, I am nothing” but this isn’t the kind of song I want to write. It’s ok to be moody; you don’t have to be depressed.
An idea came to me – from out of nowhere it seemed, although it probably un-buried itself from my memory from a writing class in college – to use photos as inspiration. (I often use poetry by Frost, Whitman, Dickinson, but I was tired of that method). I pulled up flickr and looked at the daily photos. I saw a lot of stuff, and when something struck me, I wrote a description of what I saw.
It started with very basic, prose-y stuff: “a gray and brown train riding along with a town in the background”. But then I kept pushing myself to write more, what else could I find? I added some flowery descriptions. I repeated this for 3 or four photos, and I expected to find some good lines for the song in there. I didn’t. Everything still looked boring. So I printed out all of my descriptions like this:
I looked for interesting phrases across the lines, stuff that I would never have written, although I kinda did, and just found it. I circled lots of stuff. From there, I constructed a new list of possible lyrics. Once I found the lines “Take a photograph / Fill it up with what you see” it suggested a pattern to the verses, and away I went. I pieced the song together from there. It’s interesting how the verses each reflect one of the photos, even though I chopped everything to bits.
I was browsing Beatles Songwriting Academy for an easy idea to use and found “Ticket 44 – Use the Minor 5.” While I was messing around with a chord progression, a pretty standard one actually, I looked for a place to insert the minor 5, an unexpected twist. This lead me to the structure of the verses that I ended up with. I used my new Hamlet pedal and set the reverb to 12 (yes it goes to 12!) to get the eerie arpeggiated guitar tracks.
Joe Scala is a 'regular guy with a regular job' from Baltimore MD who is also the guitarist in The Katie Bowers Band and Katie & Joe. You can check out some of their music here and listen to another Beatles related tune by Joe here.
Want to read about more regular guys using Beatles songwriting knowhow? Here you go!
This post originally appeared on Joe's blog (thanks Joe!).