Thursday, December 25

The tyranny of rhyme

It's amazing to me how I have to contort things to make them fit a rhyme scheme. Writing a pop song is like trying to load a Toyota Tercel with the un-boxed contents of a two bedroom apartment. There's only one right answer, and sometimes you're still left with a floor lamp sticking out of the trunk.

Today, I've been wrestling with the chorus to a new song. This isn't the exact form, but I've simplified it to make an example.

The scene is simple: a guy sees the girl he was going to give a surprise Christmas gift kissing another, unknown man. Not complex. I had an image in my head of her wearing a bright red wool coat - something that would jump out of a black and white train station scene like a Frank Miller color treatment. I've established the setting through the verses, so all I need to convey is the kiss, the shock and I'd like to get that jacket in there. Sounds feasible, but it's easier said than done.

The rhyme scheme is:


Also simple. The ends of the first two lines (couplet) have to rhyme, as do the ends of the second two lines. And there need to be five syllables per line.

Here are four variants, starting with my first attempt.


Your jacket jet black
His hands on your back
You’re turning towards me
I panic and flee


Your jacket bright red
I turned and I fled
I saw him reach out
Your lips met his mouth


Your jacket bright red
I saw and I fled
Your hands on his hips
While he kissed your lips


It’s burned in my head
your jacket bright red
and how could I miss
your lips locked to his?

As you can see, the first variant lost the color of the jacket due to rhyme. Few words rhyme with red, though I managed to figure out a way to use "head" for that purpose by the time I got to variant 4. And very, very little rhymes with "jacket." :) Racket. Whack it. Basket. Yay.

The other criteria are that the first and last line should be strong - you want to leave a powerful image lingering as you transition back into the verse. And you want the first line of the chorus to catch the listener's attention. Variant 4 is the best given those requirements.

I'm still poking at it, but you get the idea. Sometimes I never quite get to the point where I'm fully satisfied, but I usually do. Right now, there's only one set of verse lines in all the new songs that I'm completely unhappy with. But that's another story.

- Jesse Kates / the Sexy Accident > listen on iTunes

Friday, December 5

National Press: The Big Takeover

The Sexy Accident were just reviewed by Dave Heaton in The Big Takeover!

I just got my copy of issue 63 in the mail today, with Death Cab for Cutie on the cover.

Our review is on page 153! Here's the text:

the sexy accident
kinda like fireworks

This Kansas City-based band's second LP is just as driven by catchy
melodies and smart, real-life lyric-writing as their first, 2006's
Tourism. But they're tighter: a forceful, even fiery power-pop trio.
The band's singer/songwriter/guitarist, Jesse Kates, sings with a
devotion and sensitivity that's sometimes surprising; his voice will
rise above the rock, catch air. His guitar will too, alternating
between lightness and crunch. The songs switch too from the rough to
the gentle, by telling stories sad and sweet. Within them people make
mistakes, hurt each other, and express their love, through road trips
and a shared knowledge of each other's eccentricities. This musical
and lyrical balancing of hurt and tenderness is to the album's
benefit, making it a very human sort of rock 'n' roll album.

- Dave Heaton

Like what you hear? Order Kinda Like Fireworks directly from us!

- Jesse Kates / the Sexy Accident > listen on iTunes

Tuesday, December 2

New lyrics - Buy me out

Buy me out

I don’t have time
to hear your assessment

the mission’s planned
the decks are manned
I’ve got their investment

I’ve got no ace
it so doesn’t matter

I hold full sway
while they’re away
I pilfer and flatter

Buy me out
Buy me out
I’ve milked it

While you bleed
I count up my winnings

It’s safe to say
I’ll choose to play
less than nine innings

is something wrong?
your voice is so distant

a grinding halt
it’s not my fault
just can my assistant

I can’t be flawed
I’m always promoted

a lovely reign
and thanks again
to all those who voted

Buy me out
Buy me out
I’ve milked it

And while you’re dying
I’ll fly away

If you can’t heed the warning signs
the fault clearly isn’t mine

- Jesse Kates / the Sexy Accident > listen on iTunes