The song didn't happen over night. And what I'm about to share is still the abbreviated version. Songwriting is most often 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. It's a life long journey with an ever changing scenery. The process below should help encourage and inspire you to keep exploring.
In continuation from the story shared above, the students and I spent a few hours constructing the first verse.
2 hours. 1 verse.
Why? Because we challenged ourselves to create an AABB rhyme scheme.
It's not easy. Let me show you what I'm talking about. Here's the rhyming words we decided on.
words, burn, overflows, soul = A A B B
First, you'll recognize we used some imperfect rhymes. "Words" and "burn" aren't perfect rhymes. This keeps it from feeling cheesy and to too predictable.
Furthermore, we worked really hard to load the content of the lyrics preceding each rhyme. This is supper important. I would argue, it's more important than rhyming at all.
Lyrics should have layers of depth, continuity and integrity, while still feeling relatable.
A poor example being something like:
We can never be apart
You really want my heart
How could this love be
Now I can finally see
It just... hurts.
Unless you're going for the Dr. Seuss thing. #fan But one would still critique the lack of continuity above.
In our verse, there's a sense of story being told. Each line nuances the last, and anticipates the next.
On my drive home that night, I started singing what would become Chorus A. I safely opened the iPhone voice memo app and recorded some ideas so I'd remember them later.
Fast forward a few months.
I'd kept working on the lyrics and adding verses while keeping the students involved in the process. But there was something missing. I felt it. And when that happens, I've learned that enticing Evan Wickham into a songwriting session usually results in a positive outcome. 60% of the time, it works every time!
The trick is relatively easy- you simply start playing something while Evan is present in the room and he'll naturally be drawn to wherever the music is being created (Hint: he really likes Disney and Sting)
Like a cat to string! He can't help himself.
Evan is a fantastic songwriter like his brother Phil. He gets it. It's always nice to know someone like him who you can bounce ideas off of. His addition to the song was exactly what it needed.
This is when the Chorus B would arrive. Naturally, it comes after the Chorus A section- "Lord, I need Your Spirit to fill my heart again." Some people might call this the hook. It's the part that goes "with Your love... lo-ve, lo-ve".
I remember Evan said something like, "I've been listening to the new Adele record. She'd totally do something like that."
Fast forward an entire year!
We grew enough confidence in the song to start playing it live for our college group. This helped a ton!
First, it allowed us to feel out how people would respond, and to be frank, if the song was any good. Secondly, it let us develop some of the production elements like what sounds and rhythms to use. We also searched for an arrangement that best suited the song.
What did we learn? The Bridge was way too word-y.
It was really more like a 3rd verse that became a Bridge. So during the recording process we scratched the wordy Bridge it and tried something more simple.
We kept the alternate chord progression and melody because it provided a nice variation (or lift) from the rest of the song, but the lyrics got reduced to what I will call a simple praise moment- "Let Your Glory fall, Hallelujah!".
"Let Your Glory fall, Hallelujah!"
So much more I could say about all the decisions that went into this song becoming what you hear today. Hopefully you caught all the indirect tips as well like - the value of co-writing, variants on lyrical depth, or using voice memo.
Please share comments. I'd love to know what has been most challenging and most helpful for you as a songwriter.
Check out the acoustic version lyric video for Your Love