Silvia Ryder: “She’s a jar with a heavy lid, my pop quiz kid, a sleepy kisser, a pretty war…” – these lyrics fundamentally changed my whole approach to songwriting. They’re free-flowing associations of various emotions, casually strung together, and offer a sort of semi-revolutionary perspective outside of generic “rain”-“train” rhyme schemes.
In songwriting, lyrics are often an afterthought; you try to find a cool chord progression, add a catchy chorus line, and repeat multiple times. Jeff Tweedy continues to defy that formula.
My writing pencil has a Wilco line embossed: “I am an American Aquarian Drinker”. Whenever I get stuck regarding lyrics it reminds me not to resort to easy cliché rhymes but look for alternative, oftentimes trivial, sources of inspiration like newspaper articles or billboards, where I might stumble across words that I have not encountered before. Words that can trigger a song title or even a story line.
Both the 1999 album Summerteeth and last year’s book release of How to Write One Song have been a crucial influence in my evolution as a lyricist and my quest to develop and embrace a distinctive style of songwriting.
Sugarplum Fairies Love Summerteeth: Sugarplum Fairies’ Altar Songs 1998-2021 album is out December 3. The “Heart Hell 2021” single is out now.