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Writing A Country Song
There's nothing like country music. With its heartfelt songs about blue collar America, it speaks of a simple time without life's complex problems. Although some may sing about good people and good times, there can be a lot of tear jerking in country music.
I've noticed a basic formula when it comes to these songs. Heartache, followed by drinking, causing more heartache, which leads to loss of job and thus more drinking. Throw in a few lines about a pick up truck, a line about a dog, and you're on your way. These are just the basics, let's take it slow.
Confused? Don't be, let's build a country song from the ground and work our way up:
Your wife has left you – This is going to be your foundation. How could she do this to you? She just picked up and walked out of your life. To make matters worse, she blindsided you, moving out while you were at work.....working at the....at the foundry. Yes, working at the foundry, that's plenty blue collar enough, which leads us to...
Dead end job – Working at the foundry, very nice, this way you relate to the working man. Here you are working 50+ hours a week, earning a paycheck for your family, with no time for beer drinking or bowling. Did someone say beer drinking?
Drinking– How else are you going to get over the devastating loss of your old lady? Counseling? Please, real men don't see shrinks, and you are singing to real, American men. After clocking out, there's nothing you need more than an ice cold Budweiser. You're an American, so that means no drinking Heineken or New Castle, that's for Euro trash. You go to the watering hole and drown your sorrows. Upon arriving home you notice your dog has run away. Momma said there would be days like this...Crap, that one's taken.
The dog – Country songs usually mention dogs at some point. The dog is the faithful companion of the singer. So Cleatus has fled and you're drunk and alone. (Cleatus should be some sort of hound) Time to get out on the porch and wait for either the dog or the woman to come crawling back. Why don't you come when I whistle? We may have found ourselves a title...
The Porch– Sitting on the rocking chair, strumming a guitar while sipping on some good old George Dickel. This is going to be a hit, I can feel it already. If you've ever been to a cracker barrel, you know how country fans feel about their rocking chairs. You can always substitute the rocker for a hammock, it's your discretion.
Pulling it together – Okay, now you take all of these misfortunes and tie them together. You can sing about how your woman had straightened you out and now you're going back to your mean ol' cowboy ways. Or you can go in another direction, how you're glad she's gone but miss the dog. If he comes back, he can sleep in the bed, then the two of you can go fishing. It's all up to you!
*Note: It's important to remember to make the chorus of the song as simple as possible. Drunken people need to be able to relate and follow along. You don't want to ruin it with complex two syllable words they cannot chant in the bar.
Okay, let's give it a try:
I punched the clock, after a hard days work.
Got the boss on my back, that guy is a jerk
I just want to get home and see your pretty smile
and maybe pet my dog, and drink for a while
But as I get home, the lights are so dark
I pull down the drive and put the truck in park
As I walk in, I can tell somethings wrong.
It's quiet and cold, and Cleatus is gone
And that's when I see it, a note as it lies.
It's wrinkled and wet, with tears from your eyes
I know the handwriting, it reads how you've tried
But you just can't keep on, and put up with the lies
The love that was lost, the words never said
We knew all along, that tears would be shed
You made me better, and I'll always know
That I've got my dog and you're free to go...
So there we have a basic country song. Feel free to add other forms or heartache or heartbreak. You can also take it in a humorous direction, the choice is yours. Also, this is not meant to bash country music, as I think in the future I will start a song writing series. Complete with rap songs, rock songs, and maybe even a good old protest song.
Others in this series:
- Writing a Pop Song
The second installment in the How To Write A Song series.
- Writing A Rap Song
The third installment in the How To Write A Song series.
- Writing A Protest Song
Part four in the how to write a song series focuses on the Protest Song.
- Writing A Rock Song
Our final installment in the How To Write A Song series brings us to the rock song.