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A review and a few other recommendations
on September 13, 2005
It has been my good fortune to songwrite with many of the world's greatest songwriters, and to have had a bit of commercial success. So, for what it's worth, I offer the following review of this dictionary, plus a few other recommendations for aspiring lyricists and songwriters.
I own eight or nine rhyming dictionaries, and am constantly on the lookout for others, and basically, they all pretty much suck compared to this one. You certainly don't need any of them but this one, and I am continually surprised when browsing through bookshops to see many of those other lousy books on the shelves, but not Sue Young's excellent reference book. I don't know what the explanation for that is, but whatever it is, it has nothing to do with quality. If something has superseded it, I don't know about it.
Young's book has four main strengths which put it above the pack:
1.) It simply has a greater number of rhyming words than other dictionaries;
2.) It includes rhyming phrases, e.g., when you go to look for rhymes for "ground" you will find (amongst single words) phrases like "merry go round", "lost and found", etc. This feature is a valuable rarity.
3.) It arranges the rhyming options under each suffix in groups according to numbers of syllables: first there are the single syllable options, then the two syllable options, and so on. Believe it or not, I have a number of rhyming dictionaries which instead list options in alphabetical order (mixing up one, two, three, and four syllable options), obviously a cumbersome and time-wasting arrangement.
4.) Unlike those found in most other dictionaries, Young's rhyming lists include slang words/phrases, contractions, acronyms, obscenities, abbreviations, etc. Beat poets to Broadway lyricists to Ogden Nash humourists to rock writers will all appreciate these.
Perhaps I might also add that if you are an aspiring songwriter who wishes to enjoy commercial success (i.e., getting on the radio in whatever genre, or in broadway shows, etc.), Young's book could help form a kind of "starter reference package". The components would include:
1.) The New Comprehensive American Rhyming Dictionary by Sue Young
2.) Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus by Barbara Ann Kipfer (this is the best one out there).
3.) Any or all of the Sheila Davis lyric writing books, especially, "Successful Lyric Writing: A Step-by-Step Course and Workbook". (Davis' books are clinical and mechanical, but you need to know song mechanics in order to be a consistently successful songwriter. Her books are really good for this, though won't be appreciated by those certain that each aspect of a song is dictated by heavenly muses rather than largely being the product of conscious and unconscious mental effort).
4.) If you would like an in-depth, "artistic" perspective on songwriting by a successful songwriter, add to this list the Jimmy Webb book, "Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting". (This one isn't necessary, it just may be of interest to some people).
I should add that most of the other "How to Write a Song!" type books out there are total garbage, so I wouldn't even bother with them.
But by far the best thing aspiring songwriters can do is deconstruct their own favourite songs to see why and how they work, and then incorporate what they discover into their own catalogue of creative knowledge.
Anyway, bravo to Sue Young for coming up with the best rhyming dictionary out there.
I hope this review has helped someone. Good luck.