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Writing A Song

June 19, 2020

I am a songwriter and have been since 1974. In the 1970’s, I actually made a handsome living writing and producing music. It is my passion and one that I share even today. Because I have earned the title “professional songwriter,” I feel obligated to share my talent and craft with others who are interested. Therefore I have given song writing classes for several years at our local library. Attendees range from 9 year-olds to people my own age.

So often I am asked, “How do you pick a topic to write about?” That’s a tough question but I always answer, “Look into your own life and find what is important.” There is no successful imitation in this business. You can’t succeed by copying someone else’s feelings; they simply have to be those that you own yourself. However, there are some guidelines.

I usually start in one of several viewpoints. There is the look back, the method of divining some better knowledge of what you’ve done, for better or worse and how it has affected your life. This includes the genre of lost love, good decisions and bad decisions. This method is only effective if it doesn’t transcend into the maudlin. Nobody wants to hear whiny verse about how some mousy gal who broke your heart.

Second, I have used the forward look into what might have been. There is a song of the same title by Little Big Town that successfully uses this approach. What if any of us had made different decisions in the past? Where would we be now? What would we think of our decisions? It good food for thought and often creates the needed angst for a successful song.

Third, there is the focus on a single metaphor. These songs often turn on a single repeated phrase. “Bad Time For Being In Love” is an example. But beware! Single metaphor songs can often bomb; even the casual listener needs more development of an idea than a single metaphor can provide. I once wrote a song called Red which was an utter piece of shit. Obviously it was never recorded. Check out my book (below) for more details.

Fourth, there is the name song. Many from the past come to mind: Andrea, Along Came Mary, Runaround Sue, Donna, and countless others. I have written my own contributions including, Diane’s Song, Carolyn’s Song, Geri’s Song, Suzy Q and many others. These songs are easily identifiable and appeal to the mass audience.

Fifth, there are the songs that rely on a single subject: War, peace, love, misunderstanding, conflict, humor, etc. A very old, little known song of Neil Diamond’s is a good example: You’re So Sweet. Check out the lyrics; you will love them. Others include There But For Fortune, So In Love Am I, Oakie From Muskogee, and again, countless others.  My own contributions include: Change Lives In The Wind, Sandcastles, Blue Eyed Bitches, Tender Touch, Hey Mister Publisher and dozens of others.

Other viewpoints can be discovered without end. What’s important is that you delve honestly into your own feelings, your own experience and your own heart to find what’s right for you.

For my complete 1970’s lyrics, check out my book: Three A.M. – The Complete 1970s Song Lyrics. It’s a good, honest read.

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at


From → America, Books, Music, Writing

  1. Per quanto riguarda il testo di una canzone, credo che la sua composizione sia simile al processo di scrittura di una poesia!
    Buon weekend

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds like a fun career, but I’m betting it was difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes. If you’ve read my novel, “Hey, Mister Publisher,” you would have a completely different view of the music business. There is a lot of ugly underbelly.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I should have pushed a little harder to publish my songs. I envy you actually making a living at it.
    I have written a number of War-related songs due to my time in Vietnam.
    A good example I have mentioned to you before is my song “Shot in the Butt Blues”.
    That one is an example of my use of humor to demystify the War.
    I was wounded 6 or 7 times. All but two were in the rump.
    People say “Well why didn’t you get you head down”? I did but I probably looked more like an inchworm!
    I picked up one of my guitars a few days ago and played one for my wife Ginger that I wrote for her 40 years ago.
    We needed to get out of Sylmar. I was hanging with a rough crowd.
    The lyrics started out “In a little while We will move from this place. Certain memories I hope to erase.
    “Change of address Lifestyle for the best”
    We sat there and realized that this was our story. We made our life better.
    For years I struggled with PTSD and things like TBI. That gave me many avenues to write songs such as “Road Rage Warrior”.
    I still have those songs in a box and someday l will dust them off.
    I have done that with my cartoons and YA Fantasy Series that were in boxes and little by little I take them off a shelf and remember the fun it was to imagine them in the first place.
    That is one of the nice things about being in my 70’s. I no longer have to punch a clock and have the luxury of whimsy.
    Don Parent

    Liked by 1 person

    • My advice is always to put all your songs down in writing and save them – Who knows? Finding a commercial outlet is tough, especially these days. Back in the day, I used to go up and down the Brill Building knocking on doors with my guitar and box of tapes.


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