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The Art of Writing Great Lyrics 1st Edition

32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1581150933
ISBN-10: 1581150938
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cruelly dumped, the songwriter storms into his or her studio, slams the door and writes a heartbreaking platinum hit. According to Pamela Phillips Oland, one of the most prolific songwriters in the nation, this is no melodramatic fantasy. Oland's songs have been recorded by Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Selena and Frank Sinatra and featured on Xena: Warrior Princess and The Sopranos. She has worked in nearly every popular genre: rock, country, gospel, R & B, theater, alternative rock, blues and jazz, and she shares dozens of the tricks of her much-envied trade in The Art of Writing Great Lyrics, a revised version of her 1989 book You Can Write Great Lyrics. She even has the honesty to include an exegesis of a failed attempt: the first song she ever wrote.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A prolific songwriter whose lyrics have been recorded by such notables as Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Frank Sinatra, Oland speaks from 20 years of experience when she stresses the importance of song titles, dissects catchy lyrics, and warns of rejection by publishers. Her latest guide for emerging songwriters examines the profession from all angles, focusing in-depth on the craft of song. Oland prefers to think of her book as a "recipe for success" and, in fact, she provides a solid foundation for anyone interested in the industry. The author shares a wealth of knowledge about many of the more ambiguous aspects of the field, particularly on how to discriminate lyrics from poetry and how to become an adept miner of everyday conversation. Oland's perspective will intrigue not only followers of the songwriting field but anyone captivated by the art of the written word. This book nicely complements Paul McCartney's recent book of lyrics and poetry, Blackbird Singing (Norton, 2001). Suitable for all public and academic libraries. Caroline Dadas, Univ. of Ilinois, Urbana-Champaign
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Allworth Press; 1 edition (May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581150938
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581150933
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #902,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

37 Songs/McJames Music and 37 Records are proud to announce their continuing partnership with Pamela Phillips Oland....Lyricist, Grammy-nominated writer and one of the industry's most versatile, prolific and successful lyricists.

With hundreds of artist cuts and TV & film usage credits accumulated over more than 25 years as a successful songwriter, Pamela has become the go-to lyricist composers, directors, artists and music supervisors look to for the precise kind of lyric they need.

Currently focusing on project co-writes, creating 12 songs with sultry Argentinean star Karen Souza, collaborating with rock artist writer Chad Petree from Shiny Toy Guns, penning the song "Perfection Reflection" with Ryan Lawhon of the hot new electronic indie pop act White Apple Tree, writing Celtic songs with award winning Americana folk artist Cathy-Anne McClintock, and securing two songs for 13-year old Britain's Got Talent sensation, Charlie Green, including "My First Love" and his debut album's title song, "A Friend Like You" - and more.

To further showcase her versatility, Pamela, along with composer Tom Harriman, have co-written story, music and lyrics for a large-scale stage musical based on the Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated film "Soldier of Orange," slated to open October 30, 2010 in Holland. Directed by Theu Boermanns and produced by Robin deLevita and Fred Boot, it is the story of Dutch war hero Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, his bravery and daring in setting up Contact Holland for exiled Queen Wilhelmena. Pamela has recently been invited by writer Sarah Miles deLevita and multi-Grammy winning composer John Ewbank to join their creative team as co-lyricist for a new original world-class musical Mad Alice.

Another of Pamela's recent projects was a children's album which she co-wrote with Red Grammer called "Be-Bop Your Best!" and nominated for a Grammy for "Best Musical Album for Kids" She and Tom Harriman also recently created the album "Van Gogh by vanEck" in cooperation with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Her film (30 plus) and TV (50 plus) credits include the closing song in Disney's 102 Dalmatians, the coming of age film Jimmy and Judy, the life story of Selena, Eddie Murray's Coming To America, Sopranos, J*A*G, Dexter, Melrose Place, Thirtysomething, and more.

Whether pop or rock, rhythm & blues, or country, Pamela has written with and for some of the best talent in the world including Aretha Franklin, Berlin, Whitney Houston, Peabo Bryson, the Whispers, Selena, Frank Sinatra, Isaac Hayes, Tower of Power, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), Dan Seals, Anne Murray, Lou Rawls, Richard Carpenter, The Jacksons, Paul Overstreet, the Spinners, and on and on.

The author of two must-have books on Songwriting, "The Art of Writing Great Lyrics" and "The Art of Writing Love Songs," Pamela has been invited to conduct seminars on writing lyrics around the U.S.A., and from the Gold Coast of Australia to Copenhagen, Denmark. She also recently completed writing her first novel.

She is a lyrical chamæleon who defies categorization. Pamela Phillips Oland knows her stuff AND....she wrote the books on it.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Michael Brandmeier on August 24, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great Book!! I've been writing songs for years and have had songs in major FILM/TV projects and more. But I like to always try and better myself and talents. This is helping me to do so. I believe it is a MUST for beginners and it can truly help rekindle and enhance the approach of a veteran songwriter as well. Its a great read too with very practical, insightful tips on how to have fun and bring your inner workings into the light and onto paper in song form... I wouldn't take the time to review it if I didn't feel so strongly about it. It is FAR better than any I've TRIED to read before on the topic. Thanks Pamela!!!! Peace, Michael Brandmeier
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By anon-new-yorker on January 19, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ms. Oland provides helpful advice for the person wishing to write and market commercial songs. She gives tips on becoming familiar with language, building vocabulary, and learning popular song structures. She also dissects her own writing process, step by step, for the reader.

Later chapters deal with the challenges posed by collaboration, strategies to deal with criticism, and the music business.

This book is primarily for the commercial lyricist, not the musician or the artist who writes for self-expression. Ms. Oland is of the opinion that a lyricist shouldn't write too much from personal experience, and that a commercial song should make the audience feel good because "no one wants a loser." But some of the most sincere music, which ended up being "commercial," was written out of angst (Alanis, Nirvana). Oland's term for this kind of music is "living room hits." (In her defense, she does state that when an artist writes this type of song for himself, the song may become a hit.)

Ms. Oland also mentions that she is a much stronger lyricist than melodist, and although she does mention using "dummy melodies," musician-lyricists might find a different method than Ms. Oland's.

However, this book does include much wisdom and helpful information culled from years of experience.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Lisa-catherine Cohen on April 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although I am a veteran and successful lyricist and thought I had nothing more to learn about this form of my art, I was amazed at how many "tricks of the trade" she gave me that I'd never even thought about. Pamela Phillips Oland's new, revised edition of her first book is so chock full of tasty little details that I found myself inspired with new song ideas on almost every page - which is why it took me so long to finish it. By now, it is underlined and starred and filled with margin notes and tabbed with so many colors, it looks like a pocupine!
Everything from setting up my writing environment to setting up the deal with my collaborator UP FRONT, to helpful hints about my great starts that fill my journals, was useful. We all get into a sort of groove that can so easily become a rut that simply adopting a new approach - that Oland suggests many of - like reading the dictionary or seeing with new eyes a character trait in someone you know well, can cause one of those wonderful light-bulb ideas to pop up over your head!
I always love hearing other songwriters' anecdotes about how songs we've all heard on the radio came to be.
The book is so well laid out that when I sit down to write, I sometimes just open it at random, read a box or an example of one of her lyrics - and the process by which she completed it - and that gets me going.
It will be so helpful to the fledgling songwriter, too. I've given it to my 14-year-old, guitar-playing, songwriting nephew who says he loves it. And since I gave it to him, I can see a definite growth in his ability to express his feelings more clearly now in his lyrics. There is a craft to writing lyrics that takes years of devotion and attention to develop and perfect.
Thank you, Pamela, for acknowlwdging what REALLY goes into perfecting this craft and writing it all down in so arganized a way!
- Lisa-Catherine Cohen, double-platinum lyricist (ASCAP)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Scott Miller on December 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this book years ago and keep coming back to it in the hopes that there's something in it I missed -- something actually useful for anyone who doesn't want to be a full-time lyricist for other artists. Unfortunately it is aimed squarely at that lone demographic, which may not be evident from the title.

First of all, the author is not concerned with writing great lyrics so much as she is with writing successful "commercial" lyrics. That is, this book is designed to help you write the next top 40 hit. That's fine, but the title should make that clear! You might be wondering, doesn't everyone want to write a top 40 hit? Well, no, but even if they did, just because something is successful commercially does not make it great.

Which brings me to my second contention with the title: the author is not concerned with art so much as method. Most artists would say that method is the antithesis of art. But the author is all about your having to use her method to be successful -- with few exceptions.

Unfortunately, using her method and definitions, plenty of great songs would never have been written. "Streets of Laredo"? No chorus, no obvious title (in the lyrics). It's a poem, not a lyric. "Sound of Silence"? No chorus, lyrics are not conversational ("Fools, said I...Silence like a cancer grows"). It's a poem, not a lyric. "My Back Pages"? Lyrics are not conversational, it doesn't "go anywhere", it's too personal and introspective. It's a poem, not a lyric. It isn't until much, much late in the book that the author spends one whole paragraph coming to the real difference between lyrics and poems: Poems are designed to be read; Lyrics are designed to be sung.
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