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Direct Address: Writing “You” Songs Not About You!

Direct Address: Writing “You” Songs Not About You!

Direct address is a great way to remove yourself from the song story.  Wait . . . What?!

I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but your speaker can be anyone – it doesn’t have to be “you.”

You create an opportunity to use something that resonates with you, but build a character that takes on a life of their own and personifies individuals we may all know.

 

Why develop characters that embody what we see in life?

 

Your listeners!

It’s no longer them trying to connect with you, but a “someone” the character reminds them of in their own life.

It’s a cool device to use, and Billy Bob Thornton gives us a great example, complete with his original song idea back story, in song called “The Poor House.”

The song uses a made up character and tells a story about something Billy Bob Thornton has a personal connection to – in his words . . . “We were very poor.”

When I was a kid, no matter what anything cost, my parents and grandparents would always say, ‘You’re gonna put us in the poor house.’ . . . I always try to write songs that have a story. . . . This guy is like Ralph Kramden on ‘The Honeymooners.’ His quick solution to his financial problems is to take the little bit of money they have, go to Reno and gamble it to win his fortune.Billy Bob Thornton, Chicken Soup For The Soul: The Story Behind The Song

 

Song Assignment
Write a direct address song from a character’s perspective.

  • Write out a character profile similar to what Billy Bob did in his (like Ralph Kramden) with as much detail as possible
  • Choose a song plot, song idea and a structure
  • Write your song!

 

The Boxmasters – “The Poor House”

 

Song Idea:  Love for family has value too – and may be all that’s left when you live a life of having very little money to pay the bills and have to com up with ideas to pay the bills. And . . . some ideas might not be the best choices.

Song Plot:  Story Line

Point Of View (POV):  Direct Address

Structure:  Verse | Chorus | Verse | Chorus | Verse | Chorus

 

 

“The Poor House” Lyrics

 

VERSE

Reno’s sparkling ahead honey I thought Id give you a call.
I’m looking for tomorrow to be sunny in the midst of this snowfall.
I let you and kids down for way too long now,
I’m hoping to turn our life around if I can just figure out how.

CHORUS

I’m working on a plan to save our home,
Keep us outta’ the poor house, pay off those loans.
I’m working on a plan to save our home,
Keep us outta’ the poor house, and I won’t do it stoned.

VERSE

I’ll sit with the grannies at the nickel machines and pull handles til my hands are blue.
I’ll do just about anything to bring a future home to you.
I put down the pills and liquor, you know I tried to keep a job.
I just think this’ll be quicker if I can win a little off the mob.

CHORUS

I’m working on a plan to save our home,
Keep us outta’ the poor house, pay off those loans.
I’m working on a plan to save our home,
Keep us outta’ the poor house now that I’m not stoned.

VERSE

Well my plan didn’t work exactly honey, but I do have a little good news:
I’m not bringin’ home any money, but I didn’t turn back to booze.
I guess it’s back to the drawin’ board, ideas are starting to brew.
I’m bringing back all I can afford and that’s love to the kids and you.

CHORUS

I’m working on a plan to save our home,
Keep us outta’ the poor house, pay off those loans.
I’m working on a plan to save our home,
Keep us outta’ the poor house, and build a house of stone.

Songwriter: Billy Bob Thornton, 2009




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