D is for Desire (analysis)

How they want pain
How they need pain
How they crave pain
How they love pain

D is for desire
D stands for desire

All About Eve, D is for Desire

This is, as far as I know, the first single by All About Eve. I’m sure the song is available on the web, but I didn’t want to focus on the music, so I omitted the video link containing the song. It’s time for Professor Raven to sound pompous and important again (I also wear priests’ robes, watch out for those days). So let’s talk about these few words…

I was particularly enamored with Julianne Regan when I first encountered her singing backup vocals to the Severina single by the Mission. Then I found she was in a band and my love affair exploded after hearing her rendition of of the traditional tune She Moved Through the Fair. [insert heavy, mournful sighs from teenager me]

Julianne, I’m guessing it was from the mid-80s.

None of these is particularly hard to find, but one day I will link to her side band Mice. Because it is hard to find and it’s completely bonkers in how different it sounds compared to the AAE days.

But the lyrics above contain a key trick to writing lyrics. The first four lines are repeated in a kind of “round” four or five times, turning it into a chant. When you turn something into a chant, it becomes sticky because after a few listens, the audience can easily sing along. This is one of the common tactics used by modern pop singers to create an earworm song — some are more obvious chants, but not all are so obvious. Songs with reoccurring choruses reliant on repetition tend to be more popular than songs that lack in any kind of chorus or catch phrase (so it is rather surprising that Joy Division and Cure songs have been so resilient with listeners, as they often are devoid of a chorus). But, this repetition can be like rich sweets and, instead of having staying power, we tend to get sick of the more vapid songs and need to have a new chant to draw us in.

When I was writing lyrics for my bands, I tried to have the best of both worlds (and in my music still) — creating a feeling of repetition, without actually repeating. So, it was like a hook that could easily be spit out that didn’t get annoying, but was a hook all the same.

So, in the above example, Julianne sets up a repetition, but only repeats it at the end of the song and, more importantly, it isn’t a single repetition, but a series of repetitions that give you different flavors. “How they _____ pain,” removes direct repetition, but still has a hook.

It doesn’t hurt that she starts the chant with another set of phrases (echoed 4 times, see below) that are less obvious repetitions, but grease the mind for accept the incoming repetition that is more obvious and easier to recall. But this tricks the mind into paying attention to the chant.

Severed roses drawn
in their vases
decay away

I don’t know any of this was intentional, but I do know these elements are part of the draw of the song. In fact, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing as a lyricist, but I discovered certain tricks while I was writing them and have later had those tricks explained to me by people who study this for a living.

Man, I wish I was still in a band. I’ve learned so much about songwriting since those heady salad days of youth.

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