January 7th, 2010

These days I’m a busy music publisher with a 6000 song catalog to take care of, so I don’t get to write as often as I’d like. When I do, it’s often because one of my writers has brought me a song that’s almost there, but needs some work to knock it over the top. If we both agree, I’ll come on as a co-writer to finish it. “If You Were Here” is a good example.

Gene Reynolds (see chapter 6) brought this song to me as a male/female duet, but it just wasn’t working in that setting. So, I suggested we break it apart and re-write the lyrics for a single female vocal. That meant re-writing whole verses, as well as tweaking subtle bits in every part of the song so the story would work with the new point of view.

Now, a song lyric – like a novel or a movie script – is 95% a work of fiction; a “beautiful lie”, if you will. And if you’re going to spin a tale it better not have any holes in it or you’ll be busted. A bad song is only bad because the story hasn’t been told well enough.

So, to that end, Gene and I talked a lot about our character’s back story; What kind of person is she? Where does she come from? Is she rich or poor? Were they married? What caused the break up? Why does she want him back? And a hundred other questions.

Even though none of the answers appear in the song, it was important to know who our girl was so we’d know how she’d behave in our story. Once you know that, a well told story is likely to follow.

So here’s our story (and we’re stickin’ to it)

IF YOU WERE HERE

By Gene Reynolds & Skip Adams

The radio comes on
It wakes me from a dream
Of things the way they were
But in reality
It’s just another day
Wishing you were here

I reach across our bed
And touch the empty space
Imagining the scent of you
On your pillowcase
Another lonely day
Wishing you were here

CHORUS
If you were here
I wouldn’t feel so empty
If you were here
I wouldn’t be so lost
If you were here
She’d be the one that’s missin you
And this house would be a home
If you were here

I run into our friends
They ask if I’m OK
I tell ‘em sure, I’m doing fine
What I really want to say
It’s just another day
Wishing you were here

I try to dial the phone
But my fingers won’t stay still
I just can’t catch my breath
And I wonder if I will
Another lonely day
Wishing you were here

CHORUS

BRIDGE
What happened to the love that felt so right?
What happened to the flame that burned so bright?
I know I should move on, but it’s more than I can bear
Cause even when I close my eyes I see you there

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