Writing a killer rock song doesn’t come easily to everyone. Sure, your best friend churns them out like butter while you struggle to come up with a single lyric that you’re moderately happy with. But that could be because you operate in a different way. To explain: your friend is most likely a naturally creative person who goes through life via an organic flow. You, on the other hand, need structure and method to go about your everyday interactions with the world around. This is quite a crucial factor in producing creative content of any kind, be it writing a song or painting a picture. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to build a musical repertoire of your own. Instead of seeking out your non-existent muse, give these simple steps a try. A word of warning: make sure to follow the steps in order because they build on each other.
The first thing that you need when you’re trying to write a song of any kind is a general theme. Most rock songs are based on real-life experiences such as a conflict in love, rebellion, faith, and the like. The basic idea is that it should in some way be controversial. But be careful! Too much time spent thinking about a theme that reinvents the wheel will hinder your process. Instead, stop once you’ve come up with three ideas and select one of them.
Found your theme? Well done, that’s the hardest part. Next, pick a title for your song. This is where you have the most creative freedom. You can choose from literally anything, such as a saying, a quote from the book, or a piece of the chorus. Just be careful not to plagiarize; not only is this a lousy thing to do but it is also illegal. Check on YouTube to make sure that no one has picked the same title before you run with the first one that comes to mind.
Once you’ve got the title for your song, the next part is to build a hook around it. Play around with the words of your title until you’ve come up with something catchy. If you end up with something that gets stuck in your head, there’s a good chance other people will feel the same way. For example, the Rolling Stones song “Paint it Black” boasts the incredibly addictive hook “I see a red door and I want to paint it black.”
Got a hook that you’re happy with and that you can’t get out of your head? Excellent. The next project is to build a chorus around it. Because the hook is a crucial part of the chorus, it should be mentioned regularly throughout the song. The chorus itself needs to be in the song a minimum of three times to give it rhythm and structure. For instance, the chorus of “Starman,” by David Bowie, introduces the hook “There’s a starman, waiting in the sky” in the first line of the song.
Finally, you can to write the meat of your song: the lyrics. While the chorus can remain vague and picturesque, the lyrics themselves need to include specific imagery and examples. Try your hand at literary forms like metaphors and alliterations as they will give your song more depth. A good chorus gave your listener a decent idea of what your song is about, but a well-crafted set of lyrics will bring your point to life.
The most difficult part of writing lyrics is the first verse. Once you’ve got that together with at least a semblance of a melody, the rest will come easily.