Sunday, 12 June 2011

Buddy, can you spare a song?

I haven’t had a great deal of time to work on my latest novel recently, but I have been experimenting with a different kind of writing: song lyrics.

This came about because my friend Jason, a talented singer-songwriter, mentioned that he was thinking of writing some new songs on the guitar. (He also writes and records electronic music as part of the duo Blue Angel.) He said he’d always written his own lyrics before, and he thought it would be interesting to sing someone else’s. As a writer, would I be interested in coming up with something for him?

As it happens, I used to write a lot of poetry, and I was a regular attendee at poetry workshops and readings for most of my 20s. Then I decided I was ready to start writing fiction, which was where (I was pretty sure) my true talent lay, and gave up poetry as a distraction. I never wrote song lyrics per se, but that was mainly because I couldn’t put them to music myself and didn’t know anyone who’d be interested in doing so for me. As a music fan, I’ve always like the idea of being a lyric writer.

So now I’m getting back in touch with a much more concise form of writing than fiction, and one where rhythm is a central concern. I’ve also been consulting my old rhyming dictionary for the first time in many years. It’s challenging, like using a muscle you haven’t exercised for a long time, but a lot of fun too. Of course, it may not come to anything – but in my head, I’m already writing my acceptance speech for when I win an Ivor Novello award...