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My song about the industry dillemma (LeeFlier, especially, please read)


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Here is a link to the lyric to my "Dylanish protest song" if anyone's interested in checking it out or making a comment. Like many songs I write, I think it's my masterpiece. ;) What do I know. Thanks for taking the time to review.

 

Say, Lee, I sent you a private message but disregard it since it's old info now.

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Zipping refers to a compression scheme generally used for data files to reduce the size of a file so it will take less time to download or take up less space on a hard drive. It is not recommended or used much for audio files because of the possibility of introducing errors. Ripping is the process of extracting digital audio from a CD to a hard drive, and if you own the CD, is perfectly legal under the Terms Of Fair Use. I think the words you are looking for in your song are downloading and burning.
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Duke,

 

Sorry I didn't respond to your PM, I forget to check them sometimes.

 

Anyway... Wewus is correct, for starters, about the terminology "zip 'em and rip 'em." Audio files are hardly ever zipped, and ripping itself is perfectly legal. In fact the head of NARAS was laughed at by many people for using the term "ripping" disparagingly in his speech at the Grammies. He made it pretty obvious that he didn't know what he was talking about, so his intended target audience didn't listen.

 

Aside from that... I dunno, I think like I said about the last lyric you shared with us, that you're still a bit awkward with your turn of phrase. I should state a personal prejudice right off the bat: "Topical" songs are hard to get right anyway, I tend to shy away from them myself. The reasons for that are: 1) once the issue you're writing about passes into history, the song becomes kind of irrelevant and a lot of people won't "get it" anymore, and 2) It invites strict literalism lyrically, which I'm not a big fan of either.

 

By saying I avoid literalism I don't mean that I try to make everything deliberately vague and symbolic so that people will have to "work" to understand what I'm talking about! Quite the opposite actually. But I try not to name names, I think it's awkward. For example... Bob Dylan has written a lot of songs that people could call political or "protest" songs, which if you lived in the 60's, obviously related to things that were happening at that time. BUT you didn't have to know what the events actually were, to relate to the song. That's what made Dylan such a huge cut above other "protest" writers of the day IMO. "Masters of War" could obviously have been said to be about Vietnam, but Dylan never mentions Vietnam or any specific events about Vietnam. The song is all about the hypocrisy and callousness of the warlords and politicians, and it could be applied to ANY war at any time in history. So Dylan took something that really angered him in his own time and made it into a song about a universal human theme.

 

Some friends of mine put together a tribute to the September 11th victims, and they used a song on it written by two of them. The song is called "Can't Cry Hard Enough," and it's an absolutely beautiful song, I dare anybody to listen to it without crying their eyes out. It was a perfect song for Sept. 11th - and yet it was not written for that occasion. It was written in the mid 80's about a friend of the writers who died of AIDS. They could have been more literal about this in the song, and mentioned AIDS specifically, but they didn't, and that's what makes the song great. The pain and loss expressed in the song speaks for itself, and anyone can relate to it who's experienced such loss. The song was also used in a television special about a young figure skater who died of a heart attack at age 27. In fact, the song doesn't even specifically mention death - it could be referring to a broken marriage or relationship, a child leaving home, it's just about feeling the loss of a loved one's presence.

 

One of the same writers wrote another song on a subsequent album, which DID specifically mention AIDS. The lyrics talk about various friends that he lost and in the chorus he says "If they could only find a cure." It was a decent enough song with a good melody, and certainly dealt with an important subject, but it didn't pack anywhere near the punch of "I Can't Cry Hard Enough." And didn't do as well with the public either. So even with the same writer (well, one of them anyway) and the same subject matter, focusing on the universal emotional context of the song got the point across, literalism didn't. "I can't cry hard enough for you to hear me now" says so much more than "They really need to find a cure for AIDS because my friends are all dying from it."

 

There've been a few topical writers who are really good, and some people really like that kind of stuff, but it's never done much for me for the most part. And I don't think it's necessarily the best thing to start writing with either, there are too many potential pitfalls. If I were you I'd try to evoke the FEELING that you get when you hear about people downloading someone's work without ever intending to pay for it. You touched on the idea that maybe it's greed that makes them do it, so maybe the song can focus more on greed and the smug sense of entitlement so many people have today. That could apply to a lot of situations, not just downloading. Slipping a line or two in that mentions downloading, kind of a sly reference, might be kind of cool... but I just don't personally think it works the way it is. Just my own opinion.

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Originally posted by BassGuy21:

Originally posted by george costanza:

I don't think I've heard the word "paradigm" in a song before... :thu:

Soundgarden used it... Don't remember which song though.
Well, then, now that I think, there was that big "hit" from the Depression era :"Brother, Can You (S)Paradigm?" :rolleyes:
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Okay, I'll take all of this in... but comments about "zip 'em and rip 'em"... uh, I put that in there not in a literal since but because I think it's catchy and the average person totally identifies with it regarding files. Poetic license, pure and simple. I think 99.9% of everybody would not know that it doesn't EXACTLY pertain. But it kinda pertains.

 

As far as the song not working... DAMN, I thought it was a good one. Hell, a masterpiece. Man, this ain't easy.

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BTW, obviously, I'm new to songwriting and I am going to digest everything people on here say... BUT... I identify with lyrics that are conversational and just easily understood. When I read abstract stuff... often I'm thinking "Puhleeze... what the heck do you MEAN?"

 

Abstract stuff that's well done is very nice but often, I will see what I consider a not very talented songwriter just boring the hell out of me. Know what I mean? For probably the past 7 or 8 years, I have listened to a lot of country music and it's not abstract at all, mostly. So, I dunno about my style... I dunno. My songs are countryish, bluesish, folkish, popish, you name it. But I usually do not write abstract stuff.

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Duke,

 

If you read my post again, I made a point of mentioning that I'm NOT talking about writing "abstract" or "symbolic" stuff. I'm not into that either most of the time - I do prefer conversational, direct and easily understood. But there's a difference between "straightforward" and "literal." That was what I was trying to explain in the examples I gave.

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When you start changing the meaning of specific technical words to make them fit into a song you've gone way beyond poectic license. Anybody that does almost anything with computers knows what a zip file is. Anybody that works with digital audio knows what ripping is. Are you trying to just appeal to people who don't have computers? Those people probably don't care or know anything about digital rights management which is what the song is about.
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Dave,

 

Lee's right on with regard to literalism in songwriting. If you're not really careful, things start sounding (or reading) hokey/corny...like a bad jingle.

 

Just my opinion, but like Lee...I try to avoid that style of writing as a foundation for a lyric. It can be a useful "spice" in an overall lyric, but too much of one spice and it won't taste good.

Jeffrey Altergott

"Look at you, you like to fly...so dangerously high."

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Originally posted by Lee Flier:

...Aside from that... I dunno, I think like I said about the last lyric you shared with us, that you're still a bit awkward with your turn of phrase...

Hi, Lee. I'd really like to know more about what you mean by that. Awkward in what way, exactly? Can you give me a specific?

 

Heck, I need a songwriter mentor person like a staff writer would have. Or maybe a staff writer wouldn't need any help.

 

I reread your entire post, so you don't have to say that again. I am not offended in any way by constructive criticism. Other than what has already been mentioned, I just don't quite understand what's wrong with whatever I'm doing in this song... except for what you've already said. Other than the fact that this is topical and you said you don't generally go for that, is there anything specific you see? Or is it not specific, but general?

 

I went back and read some Willie Nelson lyrics and I'm thinking "Gee, I sometimes write kinda like that." Not meaning I'm good, I'm just thinking I write kinda like he does on some songs.

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Originally posted by Lee Flier:

Duke,

 

Can you name some of Willie's songs whose lyrics you think are in a similar vein? Maybe a constructive way to approach this would be to do a comparison. If I know what you're shooting for that would help a lot.

Time Of The Preacher from Red Headed Stranger album is one. From liner notes, there are pieces of it...

 

It was a time of the preacher

When the story began

Of the choice of a lady

And the love of a man

How he loved her so dearly

He went out of his mind

When she left him for someone

That she'd left behind

 

He found them that evening

In a tavern in town

In a quiet little out of the way place

And they smiled at each other

As he walked throught the door

And they died with their smiles on their faces

 

As I read this, I'm thinking that I often write in this style. I write a lot where the syllable count is pretty close and it's AABB or ABAB rhyme. About 90+% of the time, my rhymes are pretty close instead of "soft" or whatever they call it. I usually will work to get mind/find rather than something like mind/time.

 

Self-critiquing, I want to work to get more imagery, I do know that. And I'm always fighting writing with too many words. I have noticed a lot of good songs aren't very wordy. Although, some songs work fine and are very wordy.

 

Thanks!

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BTW, comments in this thread about "incorrect" use of zip/rip terms... I changed it to this...

 

Like zippin' and rippin', it's close to the same

And hey, it's there, let's play the new game

 

CHORUS 1:

The service is free, not even a penny

Ain't worried about that, they've all earned plenty

Like zippin' and rippin', I'm packin' a byte

Can't be concerned 'bout not royalty fight

 

For some reason, I like the sound of zip/rip in this song. Plus, from the getgo, I noted the double meaning of "rip" in this song... that rip also means "take away" or "hurt."

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Duke,

 

OK I see what you mean now about writing in a similar style to Willie - you're talking about actual structure, usage of rhyme and things like that.

 

But really, IMO that is one of the least important aspects of what makes a good songwriter. If you ignore the technical side of song structure and just focus on the actual words, you'll see that Willie's stuff is a lot simpler, "less wordy" as you say, and more evocative.

 

About your revisions... I think "zip and rip" sound good together but the fact is that I just don't think they fit in with the idea of the song, and trying to MAKE them fit the idea of the song just because you like the way the phrase sounds isn't going to cut it.

 

As for what I mean by "awkwardness" in your phrasing, well, I do think it's more of a general thing. I could pick apart a lot of specifics but that would take a lot of time and I don't know if it would help very much. Many of your lines sound as if you're trying to force words to fit into a certain structure or rhyme rather than using the best words to convey the idea.

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Originally posted by Lee Flier:

...As for what I mean by "awkwardness" in your phrasing, well, I do think it's more of a general thing. I could pick apart a lot of specifics but that would take a lot of time and I don't know if it would help very much. Many of your lines sound as if you're trying to force words to fit into a certain structure or rhyme rather than using the best words to convey the idea.

Okay, thanks for the reply. Every time I get a comment from someone, it carries weight. However, I have my own opinion. I mean, when I read back over something like that song, I'm thinking "Now, that is just very well done. That's some very clever phrasing." So, you disagree. Now, I gotta figure out who's right. ;)

 

Maybe if I spend a few weeks on this one and whack out a lot of it, searching for the gem lines, I can make it better. Although, like I say, I do recognize that "wordy" songs can work. And BTW, I do have some songs that are mucho less wordy.

 

What I'd like to do (and actually plan to do) is get a professional song guru to critique me. They can be hired for not too much money. $50 to $100 per song. My dillemma now is to figure out which songs out of about 40 are the ones. Right now, I have about 25 of the 40 that I think are "good." Meaning, fair to good.

 

Point being, how the heck does someone learn to do this? I've bought books and that did help. If one were a staff writer, I'm sure they'd groom your technique. But I'm just a rookie, so I got a lot to learn.

 

Ending on a positive note, I will say that the past several weeks, after I started writing again after several months NOT writing, it seems to come much easier. Meaning, practice makes perfect. I think what I'll do is dissect maybe a dozen of my fave songs and just figure out what makes 'em tick. That could prove interesting.

 

Geez, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Thanks again!

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