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How to write for the common man


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To write for the common man is to write songs with meaning

shared by, or comprehended by all.

 

Here are some important things to remember:

-We identify with the singer

A song is successful when an audience responds with recognition.

When they say, "Me, too," that is our applause.

-The psychology of a hit song

A successful song puts us in touch with our feelings. Put emotion

into your writing.

-The singer is the song

Write a song that a singer can relate to. A singer won't want to

sing a song that makes the singer look bad.

-The qualities of a standard

A standard is a song that remains popular years after it was

written because the lyrics have a timeless appeal.

 

Enjoy!

 

Graham English

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Fred, that's a good point. Sincerity is a must.

 

Having said that, it's important to remember that you are trying to communicate with an audience. If you want to reach the largest ammount of people that you can (that may not be your goal), then considering the audience is a very sincere gesture.

 

We tend to experience the same emotions. So if you're writing about love, everybody will understand. But if you write a line that says "I love you so much that it makes me want to kill you", you might lose some of your audience ;)

 

Writing for the common man isn't about selling out, it's about being a better communicator.

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Yes,reaching people is important---that's why Jeff Beck is more popular than John McLaughlin, for instance, though they have much the same skills.

 

But it's also important to pull people along a bit rather than just reinforce their current mindset...that's why the Beatles were better than the Eagles; Bob Dylan than BrOOOOce Springsteen or George Clinton than Prince.

 

Another aspect of good communication is to not sound pompous or didactic.

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Originally posted by Graham English:

Fred, that's a good point. Sincerity is a must.

 

Having said that, it's important to remember that you are trying to communicate with an audience. If you want to reach the largest ammount of people that you can (that may not be your goal), then considering the audience is a very sincere gesture.

 

We tend to experience the same emotions. So if you're writing about love, everybody will understand. But if you write a line that says "I love you so much that it makes me want to kill you", you might lose some of your audience ;)

 

Writing for the common man isn't about selling out, it's about being a better communicator.

I think you may have missed my point, though. I guess I was trying to say that once there is a distinction between yourself and the audience, an admission that you are different(and IMO, it sounded like you were saying "better" than the common man), then you run the risk of talking down to your audience. That's a dangerous place for an artist to be in. It almost feels like you were saying that you should "dumb it down" for the common man, so that they can relate to it better than they could if you spoke to them from "your level".

 

I say, respect the listener, and assume that they will get it. Well, at least from my standpoint. After all, I'm not that bright.

I really don't know what to put here.
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George, I could never concede that Jeff Beck and John McLaughlin have the same skills.

 

But I agree with your point.

 

And, this relation to the "common man" seemed to have worked for a good many artists. Like them or not...

 

Such as John Mellencamp, Bob Seger, and a shitload of bluesmen. They related. And the "common man" responded.

 

Give Graham some slack. Aaron Copeland composed "Fanfare for the Common Man", and wasn't being lofty.

 

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Originally posted by Swoop:

I think you may have missed my point, though. I guess I was trying to say that once there is a distinction between yourself and the audience, an admission that you are different(and IMO, it sounded like you were saying "better" than the common man), then you run the risk of talking down to your audience. That's a dangerous place for an artist to be in. It almost feels like you were saying that you should "dumb it down" for the common man, so that they can relate to it better than they could if you spoke to them from "your level".

Actually, Graham may have meant just the opposite. Some people, especially those who are just starting out writing, try to write songs that actually DO create a distinction between themselves and the audience, by trying to place themselves at a "higher" level. A common mistake is to write lyrics that sound "poetic", thus they come off sounding pompous, pretentious or at the least just plain awkward.

 

Writing "for the common man" has nothing to do with dumbing down, it's just the recognition that you as the songwriter aren't some kind of god foisting your clever wordsmithing on the ignorant masses, you're trying to speak to things that are universal human conditions, things that we all as humans (including yourself) experience and can relate to.

 

Yes, there are some people who really do "dumb down" their writing to appeal to the "lowest common denominator," but that's a different matter altogether.

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Originally posted by The Jesus:

Hey now, Prince was the man .

The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince (yes that's typed correctly) is cool but he does little to bring his audience any attitudes that they don't arrive with.

Contrast that with the fun but instructional aspect of PFunk in it's heyday.

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Real artists write what they feel. They have different vocabularies. You have to speak your truth and hope that somebody gets it.

 

If you are very good, your truth will touch something universal. If your not, it will sound pompous.

 

Otherwise it is contrived.

 

When Phil Spector was mixing "Unchained Melody" he told the engineer that he didn't think the song was stupid enough to be a hit.

 

He was conciously making music for kids.

 

Thats why Phil Spector was a great producer, but not a great artist.

Jotown:)

 

"It's all good: Except when it's Great"

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Originally posted by Jotown:

Real artists write what they feel. They have different vocabularies. You have to speak your truth and hope that somebody gets it.

 

If you are very good, your truth will touch something universal. If your not, it will sound pompous.

 

Otherwise it is contrived.

 

When Phil Spector was mixing "Unchained Melody" he told the engineer that he didn't think the song was stupid enough to be a hit.

 

He was conciously making music for kids.

 

Thats why Phil Spector was a great producer, but not a great artist.

:thu:
I really don't know what to put here.
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Here are some important things to remember:

lennon mccartney elvis led zeppelin johnny cash u2 hendrix cobain who rem matthews sting kravitz brian wilson dylan were/are writing for themselves and did not need a formula to write songs that were successful with the common man they just sat down and wrote songs if you need a formula something is probably not right it should happen naturally or not at all

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T. Ehl, All those you mentioned wrote songs that related to various people in a wide variety of society, or, if you will, the common man.

 

Except maybe Dylan, who was either having fun with words, or writing songs that were deceptively autobiographical. Some Dylan works spoke to people, and in some cases spoke FOR them.

 

If the fact they made scads of money in this fashion is why you say they did them for themselves, well...

 

I guess that means I spent almost thirty years building Cadillacs for myself!

 

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I think there is a balance between inspiration/talent and craft. I hear a lot of amateur songwriters doing a poor job of getting their message across.

 

Truth be told, I got this idea straight out of a very popular songwriting book. Yes, it's true, some people actually have to learn how to write a song.

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Such as John Mellencamp, Bob Seger, and a shitload of bluesmen. They related. And the "common man" responded.
Yet none of these were writing down to the common man. They were all writing in their own language and vocabulary. They were in fact,"The common man".

 

They wrote in their own words, in their own way, from their own heart.

 

That is where the common man in all of us resides.

Jotown:)

 

"It's all good: Except when it's Great"

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Originally posted by whitefang:

If the fact they made scads of money in this fashion is why you say they did them for themselves, well...

the motivation is not the question the process is none of them cared about following a formula or gathering an assortment of tips so they could write their songs they knew how to do it because they were talented i am not saying someone should not try but the real deal is you should be able to sit down and instantly have many options available to you
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Originally posted by Graham English:

I think there is a balance between inspiration/talent and craft. I hear a lot of amateur songwriters doing a poor job of getting their message across.

 

Truth be told, I got this idea straight out of a very popular songwriting book. Yes, it's true, some people actually have to learn how to write a song.

Question: Are you actually a songwriter, or are you just learning and quoting out of books? :)

Jotown:)

 

"It's all good: Except when it's Great"

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Now folks...

 

It's a thread on songwriting but, the guy's questions are posited to perhaps?

 

Enlighten?

 

Build accord?

 

Make sense?

 

Incite a dialogue?

 

Sell his products?

 

It's a curiosity...borderline spam, which I and others have been berated for here and elsewhere...fine line indeed... :confused:

 

Rob

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Originally posted by george costanza:

Originally posted by george costanza:

Beginning to get a bit full with yourself, Graham...

My opinion stands, reinforced.

 

Perhaps you should learn/teach Compacted Dis how to write the blues...

LOL!
I really don't know what to put here.
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