Songwriting Tips, News & More

Songwriting Tip: Show it, Don't Depend Upon The Video

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Sat, Dec 13, 2014 @09:19 AM


by Harriet Schock


In an age where you can find pretty much any song on Youtube, some songwriters might depend upon the video to keep the listener interested. But the song may not garner enough interest for a video to be made if you don’t have the visuals in the lyric already.

Some years ago a fireman became one of my private students. He told me firemen had a problem keeping people from running back into burning buildings to get their picture albums. People love pictures. That’s why they’re always holding their phones up and taking them. Pictures document one’s life and our minds are composed of them. Remember one of your favorite birthday celebrations. Remember your first cat. Remember a great meal. Did you get an abstract concept or a picture? So when you’re writing and you want to communicate clearly to someone, use pictures.

After a set of your songs, when someone comes up to you and says he or she likes that song you wrote about X, make a note of what X is. The chances are it’ll be a picture they come up with. It won’t be a vague abstraction or even a philosophical idea. That doesn’t mean you can’t write about ideas. You just have to communicate them with pictures.

Harriet Schock wrote the words and music to the Grammy-nominated #1 hit for Helen Reddy, "Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady." Her songs have been recorded by many other artists and used in TV shows and films. She co-wrote the theme for “Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks,” currently showing in 30 countries. She and her band were featured in Henry Jaglom’s film “Irene In Time” performing 4 of Harriet’s songs. She also scored three other Jaglom films and starred in “Just 45 Minutes from Broadway.“ Jaglom’s current film, “The M Word,” features Harriet’s song “Bein’ a Girl,” performed on camera at the end of the film. Harriet wrote the songs for “Last of the Bad Girls,” a musical with book by Diane Ladd. Karen Black wrote the play, “Missouri Waltz,” around five of Harriet’s songs, which ran for 6 weeks at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood as well as in Macon, Georgia. Harriet is currently writing lyrics (Misha Segal, music) for “Platypus, the Musical.” In 2007, Los Angeles Women In Music honored Harriet with their Career Achievement and Industry Contribution award. Harriet teaches songwriting privately, in classes and an online course by private email. For her performance schedule, list of credits and samples of her work or information on her book (Becoming Remarkable, for Songwriters and Those Who Love Songs), her songwriting classes and consultation, go to:

For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: