More on Writing: Evocative Phrases, Lyrics, and Prose

I love short specific lines that are so evocative of a day and time and moment.  I listen to a lot of Jason Isbell’s music.  He does this all the time.

“Dreamsicle on a summer night in a folding lawn chair…”

Just like that, it’s 1987 and I’m a first grader with a sparkler on the 4th of July.  How do writers do that?  What makes it work?

I love to think about these things. 

I don’t think that I’ve come close to Isbell’s lyrics but it’s fun to try.  I know this has come through in my writing. I’m not prepared today with a work sample! I wonder if I might give it a try before the end of the month.  Not that I’ll write a song, but perhaps aim for that same short evocative use of language.

What do you notice in the lyrics or prose you are seeing/hearing these days?

5 thoughts on “More on Writing: Evocative Phrases, Lyrics, and Prose

  1. What a phrase … ““Dreamsicle on a summer night in a folding lawn chair…”
    Just “dreamsicle” brings up a variety of images.
    Words.
    Words matter.
    Which words/phrases grab our attention? ❤

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  2. Composers, song writers are magicians—not all of them, but so many. Even pop stars—Bob Dylan NOT among this crowd—can have those stunning moments. (Okay, I confess, I love Taylor and her lines can bring me to tears.) I love the challenge you pose here, too. Fifteen days remain, so…

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  3. I too love that dreamsicle phrase. It speaks of summer and watching clouds changing shape.
    As someone who has read your writing each day this month I believe you have been attempting to capture words like Jason AND have been successful many times!

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  4. If I had a small fraction of Jason Isbell’s ability to capture so much in so few words, I’d be a happy writer. I live in north Alabama about 50 miles from where he grew up, and the way his writing reflects this place is amazing. Thanks for sharing this!

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  5. Couple writing lyrics with the tempo/rhythm of the music and yeah, that is genius. Thanks for bringing this up. Songwriting is its own level of genius, isn’t it. I remember being in college trying to analyze favorite songs with my friends. Those moments still come back to me when I hear certain songs.

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