My most recent newsletter was entitled Building Bridges and dealt with how I was able to get the Top Ten Single and Vocal Event by Brooks and Dunn (featuring Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill) recorded. My friend and client, songwriter Mark Crawford emailed me after reading the article saying, “My first thought when I saw the title was you discussing how to build bridges in songs, which can be hard to do.”
Take Me To The Bridge
So, let’s discuss bridges in songs. A bridge offers a melodic respite and introduces new subject matter or lyrical information to the song. The great James Brown used to even drop it in his lyrics! Many times lyrically it’s like the moral of the story. Kind of like tying up the story with a neat little bow. The right bridge can make all the difference in a song moving from good to great. But…
Not Every Song Needs a Bridge
Take for example Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin’s hit song “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
Before Bonnie Raitt cut the song, Mike and Allen struggled with it. Mike said, “We wrote that song as a bluegrass country song intended for Ricky Skaggs. Two lines laid around for six months, but fortunately we couldn’t get any more than that. One day a couple of lines came to me and I wondered if they were related to the original lines, so I called Allen and we dug in. After we finished the work tape, we took it in to my publisher and played it for him. He said, ‘That’s pretty good, but I think you need a bridge.’ Allen and I disagreed, thankfully.”
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” was recently inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
A Bridge Too Far
So, when writing a song, I suggest to my clients that they consider these options:
- Will a bridge add to the song?
- Has the song’s subject matter been fully developed?
Have you got a song that’s almost there, but needs a fresh set of ears and an adjustment or two? That’s the kind of bridge I can help you with. Please get in touch.
And don’t forget to #TakeTheTwenty.