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Poetry and Songwriting: Two Examples

Poetry and songwriting come from the same stock – language. Here are two examples of how you can quickly, and easily set a literal scene for your song by using descriptive language, word choices that provide an internal rhythm (prosody) and strong sense of being in the moment.

Both start with a very clear scene, and are packed with emotion:

Hurricane (by Bob Dylan & Jacques Levy)

(Verse I)
Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night,
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood,
Cries out, “My God, they killed them all!”


Ballad of Birmingham (by Dudley Randall)

“Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to play,
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?’

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and jail
Aren’t goof for a little child.”

“But, mother, I won’t be alone.
Other children will go with me,
And march the streets of Birmingham
To make our country free.”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church stead
And sing in the children’s choir.”

To read the rest of this poem, click here. Yes – this is a poem, but because of the poetic meter (ballad) it sounds like a song.

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