Innovation teams have a larger responsibility than just coming up with new products and ideas. They need to be able to describe their innovations succinctly and in a relatable way. The better your ability to communicate, the greater the likelihood that your innovations will succeed. Period.
In chorus writing, the simple act of attempting to express your song’s message in a unique and focused way will help you build a set of “muscles” that you can use anytime you get stuck looking for the best, most distilled way to communicate.
Distilling Your Message
Early in my career as a producer, when my hourly studio rate was ridiculously low, I was fortunate enough to live in Nashville because in Nashville, established, successful songwriters—in the interest of keeping their songwriting demo costs down—looked for new studios with low rates doing decent work where they could record. As a result, I made recordings of hundreds of great songs for hit songwriters which exposed me to exceptional songwriting from the inside out.
I remember one session, in particular, where I glanced over at one of my client’s lyric sheets during the session and noticed just how empty the page looked. It was amazing to me that a song that felt so complete had so few words. It left an indelible impression.
As a case in point, let’s look at the first verse and chorus to the song, “My Girl.”
I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day
When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May
Well I guess you’d say what can make me feel this way
My girl (my girl, my girl), talkin’ ‘bout my girl (my girl)
Not to put too fine a point on it but this is a VERY short lyric. A few two-line verses and a two-line chorus that repeats the hook “my girl” five times! There’s almost nothing there. And yet, this was a #1 song for the Temptations and, recently, it was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress for being “artistically significant.” It seems to me that the writers, Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, said exactly what was necessary in those few lines to cement their place in millions of listeners’ memories and in music history.
All this to say, learning how to write the chorus of a song is a master class in thinking clearly and succinctly about any and all of your ideas.
Find out more about Cliff’s book “The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering The Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.”