I tell people that I may only have one duck...but I always try to get it "in a row" :) Well, before you finish a song one thing you should do is to check on your songwriting ducks and get them in a row. What I mean is as you do your final "tweak", which thanks to Becky Buller I now call the "God-particle tweak" (the smallest tweak known to man!) two of the things on your checklist should be "party" and "tense"!! Today I'm going to concentrate on "party" :)
Your song will either be written in "first party", "second party" or "third party". Songwriter's are partyin' kind of people!!!
First party is where the song is sung from the singer's personal perspective. The song is from the singer's point of view. First person includes words like: I, we, my, mine, us, ours.
Second party is to address the listener "as I just did". This is directed at the listener. I includes words like: you, your, or if you are writing bluegrass or country probably "y'all" LOL.
Third party refers to other people or situations and the singer is mainly the story teller or narrator. Third party includes words like: him, her, it, his, hers, they, them.
OK...so why is this important? IF YOUR SONG JUMPS PARTIES IT WILL CONFUSE THE LISTENER!! You don't want to be confusing your listener in any way. If you are the singer and telling the story first person the entire song should be I, me, mine, my, ours, or us!! If you throw in a "you"...oops...you just jumped party. Now, this can be easy to do so you need a sharp eye/ear to hear this and make sure you correct it before declaring your song "finished"!! It is similar with second or third party...just make sure the "party" or point of view of the song does not change from line to line or verse to verse. Of course there may be exceptions to this but they tend to be very few and far between and would be done "intentionally" for effect. If you know the rule, you can break it at times for effect but you don't want to be breaking rules "by accident" :)
What are some of the advantages or disadvantages in setting a "point of view" for your song?
1. When you set a song in the first person...many times only "one" gender can sing the song. This isn't always the case if you keep the song "gender neutral". But if you have male or female perspectives in the song from first person it will limit the song to that specific gender and will need to be done by specifically man or woman singer. Not good or bad...just a limiting factor in where and to whom you pitch your song. A first party song however can be VERY POWERFUL sung from a personal perspective. A story sung in first person can really strum the heartstrings when done right!!
2. First person, being a personal perspective, may or may not appeal to a singer. If you write a song where the singer is singing from personal experience and is a drunk, a cheater, not a very positive character etc...you may have trouble getting the song "cut" in some genres. The singer has to go on stage to sing the song and portray himself/herself as THAT person in the song. If the person singing/performing the song doesn't want to be identified as THAT person night after night on stage your song has no chance to be cut by that singer. Many times it would be better to tell those kind of songs with the singer as the "story teller" or third person.
3. Second person can be effective but again it can be limiting talking about "you". If the singer is talking about his wife or her husband then it should be sung by the appropriate gender. i.e "you never loved me like you should". Again, this can be gender neutral within the song but takes a good ear in writing to make this happen. This is still from more of a personal perspective and #2 can apply here as well.
4. Third person is neutral as the singer is telling the story and really has no part in the actual events taking place. This makes it gender neutral and a third party song can usually be sung by a male or female vocal so it does expand the market for pitching your song. Singing about someone else cheating, drinking, killing someone in a murder ballad, or other is much easier to do than "being" the character in the song doing the cheating, drinking or killing!! :) The song can also tell a poignant story and be powerful as well.
So, it is VERY IMPORTANT to keep your "party" or "point of view" the same throughout the song and not jump back and forth or from one to another. The next blog will talk a little about "tense". Past, present or future". Back to the future and all that stuff LOLOL!!!
Had a GREAT time seeing friends, playing music and pitching songs at Joe Mullins Southern Ohio Music Festival this weekend!!! I got to hear The Spinney Brothers and also Mike Cleveland & Flamekeeper perform my songs "Grandpa's Way of Life" and "Fiddlin' Joe" respectively...both songs that I wrote and they took to the #1 slot in bluegrass music. WHAT A THRILL!!!! :) Got to hear the fine band of "Feller & Hill" sing my song "The Old Kentucky Man as well. I LOVE IT!! Fires me up to write more music!!!!
Just a few thoughts for today and remember: Write more...whine less!!!