Songwriting Tip: Ask A Question

Can’t think of how to start a song?  Ask a question.

Asking a question arrests the listener’s attention and demands that he or she answer or ponder.

Lots of secular songs do this, e.g Coldplay asks in “Fix You”:

When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

In “Who Can I Turn To?” Tony Bennett asks,

Who can I turn to when nobody needs me?
My heart wants to know and so I must go where destiny leads me…

Songwriters have been asking questions since David and the psalmists:

O Lord God of hosts,
who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
with your faithfulness all around you? (Ps 89.8)

Whom have I in heaven but you? (Ps 73.25)

So it’s no wonder Christian songwriters ask questions, like Matt Redman In “You Alone Can Rescue”

Who, oh Lord, could save themselves,
Their own soul could heal?

I use the question-asking technique from time to time, like in “We Sing Your Mercies”:

Should He who made the stars be hung up on a tree?
And should the hands that healed be driven through for me?
Should he who gave us bread be made to swallow gall?
Should he who gave us life and breath be slaughtered for us all?

Give it a try next time you have writer’s block.  Ask a question, like….Why can’t I think of anything to say?  Or Why am I torturing myself trying to write songs?  Or I wonder if another cup of coffee would help?…

photo by Pit’sLamp photography

Comments

  1. says

    And can it be that I shouldst gain an interest in the Saviour's blood?
    Oh say can you see, by the dawns early light…?
    Listen, Do you want to know a secret?
    Who put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop?

    good advice.

    Though it wasn't premeditated I once wrote a song where nearly ever line was a question called The Morning After The Day You Saved The World. Using questions certainly seemed to give the lyrics a sense of momentum.

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