The best way to write a second verse

national anthem singing

This guy is just about to be shocked by the second verse

If you’ve ever tried to write a song, or maybe a poem, you’ll know that the second verse causes a whole stack of problems.

You think of a great opening line and that quickly morphs into a killer first verse. Then you kick in to a ground-shaking chorus that really is the best thing you’ve ever heard. Life feels good.

But you still have to think of another verse. Your song is too short and there’s nothing left to say.

This song I just wrote, about my (fictional) dog, illustrates this point well. Though I must warn you, I am not really a song writer at all.

My dog is brown.
He has sharp teeth.
He likes to bark.
He likes to sleep.

Ooooh yeah! I love my dog.
Ooooh yeah! I love my dog.
You can travel round the world but you’ll always know I love my dog.

The problem I’ve got is that I’ve already told you everything about my dog. And the song has lost all its energy. I don’t want to just repeat the first verse changing a few words here and there.

If I liked drum and base I could just forget the verses and repeat the chorus over and over again. But I’m not into that.

I need another trick to help me get that second verse. Fortunately, the English National Anthem has shown me the way forward.

Because after all the talk of sending the Queen victorious,happy and glorious. It kicks in with this:

O Lord our God arise 
Scatter her [the Queen’s] enemies 
And make them fall 
Confound their politics 
Frustrate their knavish tricks 
On Thee our hopes we fix 
God save us all 

It gets pretty nasty doesn’t it? “Confound all their stupid politics” – that’s not good diplomacy.

But it does show me the the golden rule for when you’re stuck on the second verse – just talk about how you want to destroy your enemies.

It works every time.

Here’s my dog song revised with the new rule…

My dog is brown.
He has sharp teeth.
He likes to bark.
He likes to sleep.

Ooooh yeah! I love my dog.
Ooooh yeah! I love my dog.
You can travel round the world but you’ll always know I love my dog.

My dog will hurt
All of my foes
He’ll make them cry
Increase their woes

Ooooh yeah! I love my dog.
Ooooh yeah! I love my dog.
You can travel round the world but you’ll always know I love my dog.

That is pure magic – my song now takes you on a little journey. The first verse is informative but the second is punchy and filled with attitude.

Maybe One Direction could learn from this trick. It would make them seem edgier without having to take all the drugs…

 

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