Imagine you’re in an English exam.
You turn the page over, and find that question one is an essay question.
“In 1,500 words, describe a person you love.”
You think of... your best friend, Erica.
It’s an essay question, and you’re getting marked on your writing ability, so you think of all the things you find special about your best friend and your mind goes wild – all the fun trips you’ve taken, all the stories and laughs you've both shared, all the times she’s been there for you and vice-versa – and then organise them into neat paragraphs so that the essay itself will flow and make sense.
When you finish the essay, proud of this achievement, you move on to question two.
“In 500 words, describe the same person who you have written about in question 1.”
You stare at the paper, confused. But, what would the point in that be? You’ve just written about your best friend in a lengthy format – how much more does this question expect?
After thinking about it, you decide that this must be testing your ability to pick out key points in an essay and how developed you are at re-evaluating your own writing.
Turning back to the essay, you re-read what you’ve just written and choose only the most defining reasons for loving your best friend, then combine them with just your most favourite of her qualities instead. For the rest of the question, you include the odd phrase which suggests the points you further explained in question one, however do not completely finish the idea. For example, “Erica and I have enjoyed thousands of amazing trips together, from nipping to the shops in college to holidays in Spain. Our Spanish holiday...” is shortened to “Erica and I have enjoyed thousands of amazing trips together, both at home and abroad.”
Happy with your final answer, you decide it is time to move on to the last question.
“In poetry format, describe the same person who you have written about in questions 1 and 2.
The poem must contain no less than 4 stanzas, and must be in an alternate rhyme scheme.”
This scenario reversed is a metaphor for what I seek when I’m analysing song lyrics.
What I as a listener get to play with is a song with a typical lyrical format (intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, pre-chorus, chorus, chorus, outro), A.K.A “the poem” in my little metaphor. All I get is the end result, but what I’m trying to achieve is “the essay” in question one or even better – the thought process behind the essay before it was even written.