In what I am retrospectively calling 'songwriting' month here on Scottish Fiction, there is a slightly serious side behind the Words With Friends Cup, and that is to put the spotlight on the art of songwriting. So I've asked our competitors if they would be kind enough to answer a few questions about their own experiences and opinions, and what is after all a hugely important part of music.
We all have our favourite lyrics, a line we wish we'd written. Music full of pulsating beats, jaw busting riffs, bone shattering bass lines and soaring vocals is great, but it's words that make us connect with a song, make us laugh, cry, cheer or grimace as the story being told unfolds.
So with that in mind, we spoke to Shambles Miller, Scottish Fiction's favourite bearded singer/songwriter.
As a musician, how do you balance the music with the words?
As a singer-songwriter, the lyrics are really important. Although I have songs with sections which lend themselves well to instrumental stuff, I rarely play with a band, so my songwriting tends to be geared towards the lyrical side. I guess for me the music augments whatever it is that I'm singing, to give greater impact to funny or light-hearted lines like "the world's about to end, so let's be more than friends...like maybe naked friends?" or add more weight and emotion to "there are more of us than there will ever be of them and we are stronger than they'll ever comprehend" or "it's the time you've spent together with the people who brought colour to the memories of your life", for example.
What is your approach to songwriting?
It differs from song to song but usually my best songs are the ones that just suddenly happen: for whatever reason some wee spark sets me off and I end up with the chords, melody, and lyrics very quickly. I'll write until I feel I've got some good stuff down then leave it to knock around the back of my head while I go do the dishes or walk the dog, basically anything that will distract my brain and let my subconscious do some work, until a new lyric or piece of melody pops in there. My dog always looks a bit pissed off when I cut his walk short to rush home and finish writing a song. Plus, he already hates it when I sing.
Is there a particular lyric that you wish you'd written?
Oooh, good question. There are so many! I've always loved "the Book of Love" (the Peter Gabriel version preferably) and all the lyrics in that song are great, especially the line:
"The book of love is long and boring, and written very long ago, it's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes, and things we're all too young to know".
It's the simplicity and beauty of that last part, the idea that no matter what age you are, every one of us is too young to ever fully comprehend the entirety of the thing that is love. In that way, love is a great equaliser.
Sorry, I bet you were expecting something daft there! I'm a romantic at heart really. I bet I'll probably think of another dozen lyrics as soon as you publish this! Oh, actually:
"God only knows what I'd be without you".
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