I've been in bands for years, mostly as a bassist. I started writing my own songs in 2008 and in 2011 someone called me a songwriter for the first time in my life. This was before I'd ever referred to myself as a songwriter. For me the word songwriter carries some weight to it. Songwriting is one of those great power/great responsibility situations. If I'm going to write, I'd like to write something worth sharing, or a song that means something.
What I love most of all about music, even more than playing bass, is listening to, dissecting, and writing lyrics. I write more lyrics than I write actual songs. I have and use an old rhyming dictionary from 1936. I'm an avid thesaurus user (I don't think there is a word for avid thesaurus user, but I'd like to call us thesaurists.) for crafting just the right turn of phrase in a verse. I dream of one day being compared to favorites like Elvis Costello, Patterson Hood of the Drive-by Truckers, and a new favorite Lydia Loveless. I currently have about 13 songs that can be performed live (most requiring a loud punk band), about 15 more lyric sets that need music, and countless phrases and ideas that will one day be part of a song.
I think I'm a pretty good lyricist (another one of those power/responsibility words), but I've got a ways to go to consider myself worthy of that label. I can rock a punk rhyme any day, but sometimes what I want to say is more nuanced. So, I teach myself by listening to other music and keeping tabs on the kind of lyrics I would never want to catch in my own songs.
I have a growing list of songwriting pet peeves that include, but are not limited to, the following:
rhyming the whole song then derailing the feel with one word that doesn't rhyme when there is a perfectly good rhyme to fit your lyrics corny rhymes because maybe you were trying to be "original" (or maybe you were just high and no one wanted to tell you your lyrics stink) e.g. rhyming libertine with spleen. Ew. the overuse of the word "just" as a rhythmic filler
As an exercise in improving my own lyricism, I analyzed my own songs for these and other pet peeves as well as general statistics about my songwriting content.
Out of 28 songs and lyric sets here is what I found.
Songwriting Pet Peeves Found in My Own Songs
Use of a non-rhyming word when a rhyme will do fine: 0
Songs with corny rhymes just to rhyme: 3(I will be changing those immediately.)
Songs with your band name in them: 1(In my punk band, we cover our namesake, Superpill, by The Forty-Fives)
Number of times I've used the word "just" in a song: 12 (Number of instances of "just" I'll remove from my songs after today: 11)
Justified use of the word just: 1("If the beer ain't cold, just give me a kiss.")
Other Songwriting Stats
Songs about being a musician or dealing with musicians: 8Songs about drinking: 5Songs about ex-boyfriends: 5Songs about suicide: 3Songs about my mother: 3Songs about my husband that are kind of mean, but he'll probably play them with me anyways: 3Songs equating food with love: 2("Your Mother Makes the Best Desserts, Why Can't She Make you Love Me?") Songs very specifically written about another band: 1