Writing A Rock Song
So you wanna write a rock song...
The fifth and final installment of the How to Write A Song series leads us to the rock song. Rock music has a storied history in our culture. The modern rock song is full of stories of the fast life. As the saying goes, sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
While the modern rock song has all of this, it has other ingredients as well. Today's rocker is a little more sensitive than the 80's rocker, blame it on the grunge of the 90's, or the sensitive times we live in, but as the times have changed, so has the music. Despite this, rock music still has some basics, let's take a look.
There are different types of rock, such as:
Heavy - The tried and true. They want to rock and they want it loud. This peaked in the 80's but you can still find a few that want to rock.
Acoustic – The lighter side of rock. These rockers have feelings and aren't afraid to let the world know. The ladies usually go for these guys. Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews.
Mainstream Rock – Kings of Leon, Nickleback, Three Doors Down. Most of the rock you hear on the radio.
Now, let's go over the subject matter of a hit rock song:
Your Old Lady – She told you to change but you didn't, now you realize this while your in some hotel, in some city, with some other girl. You want to change, but your rocker ways make this impossible.
Drinking and Drugs - There's a reason that rock music has a higher drug overdose ratio than any other genre, these guys like to party. Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, and so on. Make sure to sneak in references about illegal drugs and binge drinking anywhere you can. Bonus points if you overdose at 27!
Cliches - Just as the author did with this hub, go heavy on the cliches. Mirror mirror on the wall, only the good die young, I'll sleep when I'm dead. Use it or lose it. Rock songs are full of cliches so don't be afraid to use them!
Blues - Most rock songs have their origins in the blues. Whether it be in the rhythm or the lyrics, be sure to incorporate some blues music into your rock song. George Thorogood is a great example.
The Lyrics don't need to make sense – The great thing about rock music is that if the music is loud enough and catchy enough, the lyrics themselves are insignificant. Nobody really pays attention. There have been songs about Sourcer's and dragons, medieval knights, and even outer space. Led Zeppelin has multiple songs with The Lord Of the Rings references, it didn't matter, they could have sung about the quantum theory and their fans couldn't have cared less. Some bands can even mumble their way to a hit. Yellowleadbetter anyone?
Sex sells – As with other forms of music, sex still sells. Singing about sex is still easy money with a rock song. Long legs and a sexy smile can help make any rock song a hit.
Rebel – At the core of rock music, it's all about the rebelling. This goes back to the roots of rock 'n roll, with it's tattoos and anti establishment attitude. Like the protest song, stick it to the man with the rock song. If it's too loud, you're to old. Rock on.
A chorus - Like the hook with rap music, you need a great chorus for a great rock song. Your fans need to be able to chant this in unison at concerts. The lyrics may not matter, but make sure the chorus is catchy.
The guitar solo - Every great rock song has a great guitar solo. Your not going to the bridge, so the solo breaks up the song and gives the guitarist a chance to shine. He shows his stuff and the song gets back on track.
Okay, putting it all together, let's try to bang out a hit. Cue the screeching guitars...okay and now the drums. One, two , three, four....
We come to town lookin' for a good time,
Smoking and drinking, enjoying the good wine
Another night, another city, another girl, another show
Another fight, another drink, another room, another row.
I plant the seed, the seed of my destruction
I raise the crops, and start my seduction
I'm here for today, but may be gone tomorrow,
I can't stay in one place, and cause you more sorrow.
This should get us started. The above lyrics are simple and do not quite make sense. Don't let this discourage you, sing it loud and like you mean it. You Rock out the best you can and as long as you turn it up and get the crowd going, your in good shape. Rock fans aren't that picky, and most of them are wasted anyways.
The How To Write A Song Series:
- Writing A Country Song
A simple formula for writing a tearjerker...
- 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.