Occasionally people ask me what my lyrics are about and I often answer “nothing really!” This is actually never true but it does take away the need to explain about personal feelings that have been translated into words so that anyone else who fancies it can listen to them.
The truth is my lyrics always mean something to me, even though to the casual listener they might not make any sense whatsoever. This doesn’t mean that I write them to be ambiguous or anything as clever as that. It just means that they tumble out of my brain and onto a page and then they sort of stick around. To me they’re about relationships, break ups, bad days, arguments etc. They’re not usually about happy events. People often ask me about that and there’s a simple explanation. Sadness tends to stick around longer than happiness. Unfortunately you store it in your mind, mull it over and let it creep into all aspects of your day, week, month or year. Happiness on the other hand tends to be enjoyed and then quite often moved on from until you reminisce about it with the other people who were involved. I often tell people that I don’t write happy songs because when I’m happy it’s because I’m doing something, I’m with other people and they’re making me laugh and forget about why I might be writing sad songs. I had an ex girlfriend once who asked me to write a happy song for her and I did. I threw together some lovely romantic statements. I think one verse went ‘Lovely weather, all is well, hand holding, smiling.’ I then set the lyrics to some very depressing music and let her listen to the song. I felt fine about writing that happy song because I’d sneakily won the war. I’d held up my side of the bargain with the happy words but then thrown them off balance with some truly miserable music and melodies behind them. I don’t think she liked it!
This isn’t to say that I don’t write love songs or even happy songs for that matter. I do, it’s just that they’re normally much more personal to me and I choose to keep them for myself or for the people that they’re about. Some people might hear them but they don’t usually tend to make it as ‘band’ songs. This isn’t always the case but normally it’s the rule. Occasionally people might know that a particular lyric or verse is about them but quite often people have no idea about how they’ve sneaked into my consciousness and in turn I’ve then sneaked them into a song.
I often write songs in two or more sittings and this usually leads to the lyrics having two sides. The first half might be about an argument but a week later when I come back to it, the argument might have been solved and therefore the second half might be much more positive. I actually quite like this. Sometimes songs get written over many weeks and the lyrics have a real up and down feel to them but then others come together really quickly and just focus on one particular thing. I suppose that I don’t really have any set rules.
I’m currently locked in battle with a song that I’ve been trying to write for well over a year. The song in question has the working title of ‘Dan, Dai and I’ and the words have changed many times over the last 14 months or so. I’m not proud of this fact. In fact it’s really bugging me. I’ve completed it several times, gone back to it the next day and scrapped everything. For some reason I really want to get this one right and fingers crossed I think I’m winning at the moment. Time will tell but right now I’m pretty happy with it. It’s one of those ones where people I know have sneaked into it but probably won’t ever realise that they have.
Ben Folds wrote one of my favourite lines. In the song, Evaporated. He sings, “I poured my heart out, I poured my heart out…it evaporated.” The first time I heard this it really struck me. In fact it made me stop what I was doing so I could think about it. I like it because it’s a little bit clever but not in a smug way and I like it because it tugs at me a little bit. I feel like I’m being allowed into his world for a few brief seconds and that I’m sharing an honest moment with someone that I’ve never met. Of course the song might be completely non-personal to Ben, it might just be a story that he wrote and he’s singing the lines as a character.
I wish I was better at telling stories in songs. Huw (drummer in the band) often encourages me to do it. I tried it once and wrote a song, which I (and a few other people) liked. It was called ‘The 48th Time’ and was about a man who decided to throw himself off a building but changed his mind the second his foot left the ledge. He died. It was a sad story!
Maybe I do actually have a problem.