Ever imagine having a music industry pro pull a lyric out of one of your songs (from memory) and quote it back to you? And to tell you they love it? Let me tell you, it feels GREAT. And it opens doors.
In my last post, I revealed how great imagery can give your songs that slight edge that can bring big opportunities [CLICK TO READ]. Today is the example of one of those opportunities…
Brandon Kinney and I wrote a song called “Every Head Bowed,” written from the point of view of a little boy in church. It was a funny song, and we packed it with imagery from both our imagination and memories of growing up in church.
The song went on to get recorded by legendary country artist, Randy Travis, on his “Around The Bend” album on Warner Bros. Records. It was a huge thrill to have a song recorded by an artist of Randy’s stature. Unbelievable. And what really tickled me was the fact that the song contained the word “spork.”
Spork? Yes, spork. Those plastic spoon-fork things at KFC.
The end of the song takes place after church as the family is having lunch at KFC, and the dad tells the singer to “put that spork back down” while the family prays. It’s such an odd, specific word, but it’s exactly what you use there- and it fits the fun vibe of the song.
Here’s where it gets even more fun. I kinda knew some of the A&R folks at Warner Bros., but now I had a cut on one of their artists. That definitely took me up a notch in their eyes. Even more, they LOVED the spork line.
As I’d bump into a couple of the A&R folks, and we’d talk about the song, they’d always mention that line and how it was their favorite line in the song or how it was so funny.
A&R people hear thousands of songs- more than they can remember. But if you can give them an image they love, they’ll remember your song and YOU.
This simple thing gave me a calling card. I was the guy that wrote “the spork song.” It gave the A&R people a little something positive to remember me by. It’s a goofy line, but it no doubt helped me get more pitch meetings there. And the song even helped me and Brandon land a cowrite with Randy Travis himself!
A great image can really set the identity of a song in the mind of a listener- just like it’s another hook or an alternate title. Don’t believe me? How many people called “Something Like That” by Tim McGraw “BBQ stain?” How many people know you’re talking about the Dierks Bentley song “What Was I Thinkin’” when you call it “little white tank top?” The right image, as simple as it might be, can make your whole song memorable. And memorable is valuable!
Another quick story involving “Every Head Bowed.” I was out a couple months ago, and I ran into one of Randy Travis’ band members. I said, “Hey, you’ve probably played one of my songs.” “Which one?” he asked. When I told him it was “Every Head Bowed,” he nudged his wife and said, “Hey, this guy wrote ‘Every Head Bowed”- we love that song!”
She looked confused, like she didn’t remember it. Then he said, “Oh, you know- the Twinkie song!” Then she gave a big smile as he told me they always call it “The Twinkie Song.”
Yep, there’s a line about a Twinkie in that song, too. Again, giving your listener one strong image (or more) can set your song in their memory more than even the title does.
I want to help you put winning imagery into your lyrics. Here’s a quick video that might serve you…
What about you? Do you have any songs that you or your friends call by a different title- one based on an image? Or a particular image that comes to mind when you think of a certain song? Leave a comment!
Since strong imagery is such an important part of professional-level songwriting, I’ve put together a course on imagery. It’s called, “Use Imagery To Supercharge Your Songwriting (Like The Pros Do)” and it’s available now. By the end of the course, you’ll have the basic skills to:
- Effectively use both literal and figurative imagery.
- Make your story come to life using imagery.
- Prove your character’s personality using imagery.
- Make your listener connect to your character’s emotions using imagery.
- Hook your listener in the song’s first few lines using imagery.
- And to begin more songs (more easily) using imagery exercises as the start of your songwriting process.
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,
Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.