Getting the information across in a way that is interesting and provoking can be tricky, though. Thinking about imagery always helps get me back on track. Instead of telling us what is happening step by step, give your listeners the details of the scene. Show us what is going on! One of my favorite examples of this is the first verse of Kacey Musgrave’s “Keep It to Yourself” that she wrote with Shane McAnally and Luke Laird.
You turn on the light
Then you turn it back off
Cause sleeping alone,
Yeah, it ain’t what you thought
It’s the drip of the sink,
It’s the click of the clock,
And you’re wondering if I’m sleepin’
It is easy to assume that a listener would want general details that are universally relatable. Try to reverse that thinking! Use specific images about the time, place, and people you are writing about, like “the drip of the sink” and “the click of the clock”. This will paint a vivid picture for your listeners, and they will understand perfectly.
Working like this will also make your lyrics more personal and genuine. Your listeners will be able to pick up on that. If you need more convincing, remember that using original, unique ideas will set your song apart.
When you start to select imagery to use in your lyrics, think about the scene as a whole. Picture every detail of the story you’re trying to tell in your head. Which hit you the most emotionally? If the details have a big personal impact, they will do the same for your listeners. Make sure to select key elements of the picture to communicate it simply and efficiently.
What everyday situations or settings are familiar to you? Perhaps you can include interesting specifics that others may not think about. Let’s say your lyrics mention your favorite coffee shop. Where is your favorite table? What is the lighting like? Think about the details that can add dimension and personality to your song.