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Stuck in a Rhyming Rut.


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Firstly, hi, new guy on the forum. I hope to learn some, and share what I do know.

 

I'm working on a song that I really can't get to work. I keep getting stuck in a rhyming pattern that I can't get myself out of. A rhyming pattern would work nicely in rap, but this is to be a country song if I can ever get it written. Have a look. The tempo will be fairly slow, little faster over the chorus.

 

He stole her away from me, like a thief in the night

She's happy to be with him, 'cause they don't ever fight.

Her life is fun and joy, she's as happy as she can be,

I got surprised the other day when that low-down thief called me.

 

Chorus.

She's driving him bonkers, he wants to give her back.

She was a princess for a while but now he's under attack.

He takes her to the movies, and she's makes his life pure hell,

He said I must be made of steel, to have dealt with her so well.

 

Pretty as she is, she could have modeled in Italy,

But to tell the truth, I'm kinda glad she aint with me.

Her mood, her mouth, the way she whined all day,

His nerves are gettin' threadbare, but he wanted it that way.

 

Chorus.

 

I was sad for a time, after he did that dirty crime,

I smile a lot now; she's making sure he gets hard time.

She made my life a misery, and he couldn't even see,

by takin' her away, it was a favor he did for me.

 

Chorus, Repeat.

 

That's it, I've reworked it a couple times, and it still doesn't sound just right. I'd be grateful for any tips.

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First, hi, Caster, and welcome to the forum!

 

 

Of course, working from the page, someone reading lyrics without hearing the song may not get onto the proper flow right away. But, yes, there do seem to be some awkward cadences in there. I even picked up my guitar to have a go at fitting the lines to my own conception of how they might go. Syllable counts varied considerably -- but I noticed a lot of the lines had 13 syllables in them -- a few had considerably more; but, of course, some trick delivery and syncopation could get around those variations to some extent.

 

Since you say you've tried different approaches, I'm sure you've at least considered moving the rhyme scheme from an AABB sort of thing to an ABAB scheme. While that could take some serious rewriting, it might help quite a bit on the sing/song, rhyme-bound feel issue. And there are a fair number of somewhat awkward bits, and that might give you (another) chance to iron some of that out.

 

Moving away from rhyme issues, I couldn't help but feel like that, while the song starts with a solid, coherent idea -- the guy whose gal was stolen realizing maybe he's the lucky one (I've got a couple of those myself, at least one based on real life :D ) -- that it meanders a bit and threatens to lose focus at times with some quite possibly unnecessary distractions or bits of ideas that don't really link up, even though it looks like they were intended to. For instance, the chorus...

 

She's driving him bonkers, he wants to give her back.

She was a princess for a while but now he's under attack.

He takes her to the movies, and she's makes his life pure hell,

He said I must be made of steel, to have dealt with her so well.

Maybe the movies bit is designed to tie to the made of steel line (they're seeing a Superman movie?) -- but as it hits my ear, it doesn't hook up. In fact, the chorus, which generally has to carry the most weight in a pop song, seems kind of ill-fitting. Bonkers is a fun word... but this isn't really a fun stanza (except maybe from a schadenfreude perspective). And, while princess can mean many things in many situations, I typically think of someone who is spoiled by privilege, since it's so often used as a pejorative. ("She's such a little princess.") So when it's contrarily conjoined by but, I'm thrown off a little at first, because I initially took princess as a negative. So that's a bit of a distraction. And then the movies line... I just don't get what the movies has to do with anything, unless it's supposed to be shorthand for the other guy being a good boyfriend... (But it almost seems like it would need more evidence to support that: he takes her to the movies, he takes her out to dinner, he brings her flowers, etc.)

 

And then when we cut to the last verse, I got thrown of the mark again, at first, because it took me a second to figure out the dirty crime was just the other guy stealing the singer's GF. Dirty crime seems so dramatic. But stealing a girlfriend? That's what folks in country songs do. ;) The last lines wrap up the plot and conclusion of the song pretty explicitly, but by the time we get there, that might not be necessary if the song was building its meaning and impact a little better as it moves along.

 

I think you've definitely got a good, workable central idea here, and some good supporting ideas, but I'm afraid it still seems to need some love and attention in the re-writing arena. Maybe you need to break it down (again, I guess) and try reassembling it a little differently -- and that would also give you a chance to try a different approach with the rhyme scheme and cadence, as well.

 

Definitely a worthy project to pursue, and I suspect that the effort, if approached with the right frame of open mind, could prove a good learning experience!

 

:thu:

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Little confession after the fact, that's piece is the first I've tried to write. With your comments in mind, I could have done worse, and I've only been thinking about it/studying it for a few days. I'm learning a LOT from the whole process. I'll keep working on it with your thoughts in mind.

 

TJ.

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I admit, after reading the lyric, something is not quite right about it, but it has nothing to do with the rhyme scheme. Of course, if you were to use the exact same rhyme pattern in every song you write, it would get monotonous, but it works fine for this song.

 

It took me a little while to figure out what bothered me about the lyrics

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Little confession after the fact, that's piece is the first I've tried to write. With your comments in mind, I could have done worse, and I've only been thinking about it/studying it for a few days. I'm learning a LOT from the whole process. I'll keep working on it with your thoughts in mind.


TJ.

With that in mind, you're doing great!

 

You should have seen the first things I tried to write. (No you shouldn't.) Oh, my gosh, were mine bad. And it was especially difficult for me, since I considered myself a decent poet. (At the time, anyhow. :D But, you know, I did readings, got published in some little mags and such.) But write a rhyming verse?!? I was totally unprepared. Heck, I couldn't even seem to get a rhythmic verse going. I mean, I was just at sea. It took me many, many tries before I got something I could bear to play in front of someone.

 

You're off to a really solid start!

 

 

PS... Kurdy's suggestion about shaping the song to tell the story with a little more punch is really solid. Even when a song doesn't have a plot line, per se, it still may well have an arc, an emotional or intellectual movement from beginning to end. Of course, even a ballad (story song) doesn't have to have a linear plot. Jumping around on the timeline is a technique that goes back as far as some of the oldest of human epic stories.

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