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7 Ways to Start a Song

7 Ways to Start a Song

How do you start a song? What lyrical options are available? Here we come up with 7 suggestions on how you can get going with the art of songwriting.

1). Why not start with a statement about yourself, or a description about where you are in life, as Joni Mitchell does in "All I Want":

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
traveling, traveling, traveling
Looking for something, what can it be?

2). Not a million miles away, start with a fact or a basic observation as Paul Simon's does in his song "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes":

She’s a rich girl
She don’t try to hide it
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

3). Why not try a line that sets the scene in more poetic terms, as Neil Young does in his song "Pocahontas", using the image of a winter night time to create an opening image:

Aurora borealis
The icy sky at night
Paddles cut the water
In a long and hurried flight

The Smiths song "This Charming Man" follows the same basic pattern:

Punctured bicycle
On a hillside desolate

4). Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" starts with a more abstract description, perhaps best described as a mental state of affairs:

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go

5). Try starting with dialogue, as Paul Simon (again) uses in his song "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover":

“The problem is all inside your head”
She said to me.
“The answer is easy if you
Take it logically"

The same songwriter begins the opening verse to his song "America" with someone speaking:

“Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag”
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner’s pies
And walked off to look for America

6). Alternatively you could begin by addressing another person, as Leonard Cohen does in his song "So Long Marianne",

Come over to the window my little darling, I'd like to try to read your palm,
I used to think I was some kind of gypsy boy until I let you take me home

7). How about starting your song with a description of another person, as Laura Marling does in her song "Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)"

You were so smart then,
in your jacket and coat.
My softest red scarf was warming your throat.

So there are 7 different ways to begin a song. Why not let us know your own ideas for kick-starting the opening verse.

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