A few years back I had the absolute pleasure to attend a workshop in Sydney with legendary songwriting coach Pat Pattison. He's a professor at Berklee College of Music teaching songwriting, creative writing and poetry and his website tells us that over 1.5 million students have taken his most popular lyric writing course. He was recommended to me by my brilliant vocal coach at the time Anne Maree Wilshire.
My favorite part of his workshop was when participants played their original songs live and he analyzed the lyrics line by line. It was fascinating watching him point out awkward clichés and polish vague references, noting where he'd like to know more about the story and offering techniques to develop it further. Ultimately, of course, it came down to the songwriter's ability to paint evocative, fresh and captivating images with words and sounds and tell a damn great story. I have a feeling he'd likely sneer at most of my songwriting attempts. I mean, I'm no Suzanne Vega but Pat's almighty voice is always in the back of head when I'm making lyrical choices.
His website offers some fantastic free songwriting tips and practical exercises which I still go back to when I'm writing (a struggle to say the least!). He's also known for his published work on songwriting which you can find through his website store. The most well-known of these are "Songwriting Without Boundaries" and "Writing Better Lyrics" and I can definitely vouch for them. I mean, hey... the guy even has a testimonial on his website from Gillian Welch of Florence and the Machine herself! If you can attend one of his classes I highly recommend it. He's currently advertising online lessons through his website and it was his email on this new course that prompted me to write this post. Below is a video of him doing his thing and cracking a joke or two. So much great info in this one video alone. So yeah get on it and get writing!