Lyrics: First And Most Important Or The Reverse?

I remember watching Seal perform on Saturday night live and I had left closed captioning on.

To my knowledge the real words in the song are:

“Racism amongst future kids can only lead to no good. Besides, all of our sons and daughters already know how that feels.”

But the captioning read:

“Time in a minimum future kings can only lead to no good. Massaging somebody wondering how that feels.”

It ends up that Seal’s opinion of making words is stream of consciousness, and he doesn’t, or at least he didn’t, want his words printed because he felt that everyone would get their own interpretation—which is cool, but one has to look at most of Seal’s words for what they are–stream of consciousness.

Before around ’96, most of my lyrics used to be stream of consciousness until I got critiqued by most of my honest friends. Still when I make a really dreamy-sounding song, I go back to stream of consciousness lyric writing. Generally I still write musical vocal lines first before I put solid lyrics to them. Until there are solid lyrics, it sounds like I’m saying gibberish wording, almost like scatting in jazz (no not the other definition), and if there are real words that come out naturally every-so-often I’ll sometimes try to make the lyrics based on those phrases said.

For me, the melody and how a song is sung is the most important element to vocals when listening to music. This is why I usually just can’t jive with rap—if you take away the words and everything was sung on la or da or hummed (or like listening to rap from non-english speaking countries), most of it would sound downright annoying.

How do others work with or think of lyrics:

When writing a song, are lyrics an afterthought to the vocals and/or melody, or are lyrics the main squeeze of the vocals—do you write the lyrics before or after you make and/or sing melodies?

When listening to music, are lyrics the most important thing about the vocals or is the melody and how it is sung?

As i don’t write lyrics nor do i sing, i usually take some acapella or some samples from my vocal sample cd-s and compose music… But that doesn’t mean that i have to “choose” vocals first… It is also acceptable for me to compose music first and then choose some vocals that will fit in…

I think that lyrics are quite important… but nevertheless, not quite as important as music/melody :) but thats just my opinion

It depends on what you are trying to put forward as a composer.

I prefer writing the words first. I look at the shape and mood of those words and that helps me put together a song structure around those words. The melody for those words usually comes out from jaming over the backing track a bit like bjork sounds like. I keep doing that until the most natural solution presents itself, which could be anything given that the mood of the words could be anything.

I take my messages very seriously, though others don’t. I tend to work away from repetitive structures (though I’m very guilty of it in many places), and try to put as much soul into whatever I’m doing so that people know it’s genuine. I’m really tired of lazy composing.

I’ve a friend that sings a melody first, then makes up words for the melody. Then he makes the drums for that melody. Then the bass, as a totolly seperate counter melody. Then some chords and the rest of the stuff he wants to put in. Sounds utterly wierd, but very cool and unique.