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How to write songs you love

Even Dialogue Songs Need A Scene

Even Dialogue Songs Need A Scene

Dialogue songs are songs that are really nothing more than direct address.  Basically, a dialogue occurs whether the listener knows it or not.

In a dialogue song you might have some actual back-and-forth or exchange of conversation, but for the most part it’s a silent dialogue with oneself.

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” is a great example of a song that takes place inside the speaker’s head, but, still has a clear scene for the listener.

How did Allen Shamblin and Mike Reid do it?

First off – Allen Shamblin knows imagery!

He also knows how to tell a story in a very easy, flowing sort of way. His song with Tom Douglas, “The House That Built Me,” has similar qualities.

 

Keys to Making It Work

 

1  The scene and point of view are set quickly

The scene is created by the mundane and sequential nature of the first line, the self-realization of the second, and the use of an implied “you” in the third. Pretty stellar use of language here.

Even if you don’t realize the person is thinking about these steps as they prepare to lay down in bed, you’re in the scene by the second line. It’s clear in the second line that the speaker is thinking these things, which sets the tone for the rest of the song.

Shamblin and Reid have managed to go from the speaker thinking about preparing to get into bed, to creating a bedroom scene with a second character in it by line 3: “Lay down with me” – Wow!

 

2  The physical scene established doesn’t change in Verse 2

 

Even though the scene itself doesn’t change, there is new information provided in V2. The speaker is going through a transition during the conversation with themselves, adding to the storyline.

As a result, the physical space doesn’t need to transition or go anywhere, and the songwriters wisely stay with the real focus on the action – in the speaker’s mind and their thoughts racing forward to morning.

 

 

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” Lyrics

 

VERSE

Turn down the lights; turn down the bed.
Turn down these voices inside my head.
Lay down with me; tell me no lies.
Just hold me close; don’t patronize.
Don’t patronize me.

 

CHORUS

‘Cuz I can’t make you love me – if you don’t.
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.
Here in the dark, in these final hours,
I will lay down my heart, and I’ll feel the power;
But you won’t.
No, you won’t.
‘Cuz I can’t make you love me – if you don’t.

 

VERSE

I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me.
Morning will come,and I’ll do what’s right;
Just give me ’til then to give up this fight.
And I will give up this fight.

 

CHORUS

‘Cuz I can’t make you love me – if you don’t.
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.
Here in the dark, in these final hours,
I will lay down my heart, and I’ll feel the power;
But you won’t.
No, you won’t.
‘Cuz I can’t make you love me – if you don’t.

 

Songwriters: Allen Shamblin & Mike Reid

 

More Examples Of Direct Address With Details Of The Scene

 

Blake Shelton “Sure Be Cool If You Did”

 

“standing in the neon”      |      “pretty pink lemonade shooter”  Others?

 

 





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