What Lyric Writing Sometimes Feels Like, Demonstrated by Hugh Laurie

house_hugh_laurie-711333This is Hugh Laurie of( Dr. Gregory) House M.D. fame, singing a comedic song, Mystery, during a June 2006 appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio. The song was originally from the show A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

I’m not posting this for performance, or lyrics or musicality. Rather, I’m posting it because the way Hugh put a little acting into all the little spots in the song as if he were improvising. At various points, he pretends to struggle to come up with a rhyme, the idea for the next verse, how to manipulate a word to rhyme, making up new words, squeezing in entire phrases, etc.

What all that feels like is the struggle, and mystery, of lyric writing for songwriting. The various methods, successes and failures of “creativity” to find that elusive lyric, sometimes forced and sometimes “enlightened”, are demonstrated well, I thought. The song is simple enough you can just sit and dissect the lyrics, which are included under the video below. The tune and musical chord progressions are nice and simple, too.

Besides that, I’m not sure I can say much about the “mystery” of lyric writing. It just kind of feels this way, if you’ve never experienced it yourself.

If you have, I’d love to hear your descriptions of it. Thanks!

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Mystery
All my life has been a mystery
You and I were never ever meant to be
That’s why I call my love for you a mystery

Different country
You and I have always lived in a different country
And I know that airline tickets don’t grow on a tree
So what kept us apart is plain (plane?) for me to see
That much at least is not really a mystery

Estuary
I live in a houseboat on an estuary
Which is handy for my work with the Port Authority
But I know you would have found it insanitary
Insanitary

Hated me
I’d be foolish to ignore the possibility
That if we’d ever actually met, you might have really taken a violent dislike to me
Still, that’s not the only problem that I can see

Dead since 1993
You’ve been dead now . . . wait a minute, let me see…
Fourteen years come next Jan-uary
As a human being you are history

So why do I still long for you?
Why is my love so strong for you?
Why did I write this song for you?
Well, I guess it’s just a mystery

Just a mystery
Mystery!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.9

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