You’ve heard of a spare parts for a car – so why not have spare song parts?
One of the best ways to give yourself permission to write songs quickly, and then move onto the next one if you’re not feeling the “greatness” of it is to keep parts of the song. For example, pull a line you love from a song you got down the page on but are just not feeling is quite there.
I’ve got several songs where the song itself isn’t working very well, but there are several lines in it I like.
I use those songs as “spare parts” for other songs. One line or a verse can be a great jumping off point to something new.
On occasion, I take lines or ideas out of them and use them in a different song.
How Using Spare Song Parts Works
Below is a highly personal song lyric. It’s not a very good song, but some of the imagery is solid. Rather than toss the whole thing, I’ll go through and highlight lines, phrases, verses, etc. that I like.
I do everything freehand and print out lyrics, so I drop the lyric/music sheet into a folder. The great news is, I also keep it in it’s song folder as well. (Note: I’m pretty obsessive about organizing my song files. You can check out my system here.)
Back to spare song parts! There’s no sense in wasting good lines – or not being able to find them!
Example Of A Spare Parts Song
Here are some lyrics and notes from a song I got down the page on, but I’m not loving it and will likely never spend much more time on:
She’s caught laughing at the sky above.
Snapshot – she’s smiling as he clicks the shutter –
She thought: we’re in love.
Snapshot – she holds him close and whispers –
Snapshot – small hands hold her finger –
She thought: you’ve changed our lives.
Snapshots . . . (need a real chorus here)
You’ll notice the parts of the song are labeled. I would encourage you to do this as you start writing songs. Why? Because it helps you navigate your song when you’re writing. Because each of the song elements have a “job to do” in the song, by knowing whether you’re writing a verse or a chorus you can focus your writing on the job to be done, streamlining your songwriting and making edits easier. Ultimately, this will help you build better, more consistent songs faster.
Clearly this would be about selfies and iPhones now, but – point is – I didn’t throw it away.
I’ve highlighted a couple of things I thought were interesting so I can quickly reference them later.
I also made sure I transferred anything that might be handy at a later time into my notebook.
For this one, I like the song idea of someone seeing their past life through photos in a scrap book. I’ll put that one in my notebook as well.