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Chasing A Rabbit

Daryl Williams - Singer - Songwriter
Daryl Williams – Singer – Songwriter

Imagine for a moment that you have just finished the 1st chapter of a great, new book! It grabbed your attention right away. You are excited to go on and read chapter two. But when you get to chapter two, you find the characters are still just standing in the same information that was in chapter one. The book begins to “slow down” and you begin to lose interest.

In order for a book to keep your attention, it has to keep moving. The same idea is true for writing songs. One of the most common pitfalls for song writers, is falling into the trap of writing a redundant second verse.

In my thirty plus years of being a professional songwriter, I have had the opportunity to critique many amateur lyrics. An amateur is by definition, someone who is new to, or not yet proficient in a particular skill or sport. Every professional writer started out as an amateur. So if that’s where you are right now, don’t worry about. Let me help you make one step closer in becoming Skilled in the art of songwriting.

The second verse of your song should never be a re-telling of the first verse.

For example:

Verse 1
When Daddy went to heaven
I knew this was not the end
Someday on streets of glory
I know we’ll meet again

Chorus (too often will again state the same information as the verses)

Verse 2
Daddy’s made that final trip
To that great eternal shore
One day I plan to join him
Where we’ll live forevermore

Here is the common mistake of an amateur. Just because you used different words in your second verse, that doesn’t mean you have moved your song forward. If you look at these two verses, they say exactly the same thing, but with different words. Both verses say that Daddy is dead, and I’m going to see him again when I get to heaven. That is not what a second verse is supposed to do.

The second verse dilemma can be frustrating. But rather than giving into the frustration and simply restating your first verse, choose to rise to the occasion and take the song to a new level.

Over 30 years ago I sat down at the piano and wrote a song titled “Two More Hands”. The first verse and chorus came easily, and in a short amount of time.

Here they are:

Verse 1
WHEN WE LIFT UP HOLY HANDS IN THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD
AND WAVE OUR PRAISE TOGETHER WITH OUR HEARTS IN ONE ACCORD
HOW DELIGHTED HE MUST BE JUST TO LOOK UPON AND SEE
TWO HANDS THAT NEVER HAVE BEEN RAISED BEFORE

Chorus
NOW THERE’RE TWO MORE HANDS UPRAISED
TWO MORE HANDS ARE LIFTING PRAISE
THERE ARE TWO MORE HANDS HE’S NEVER SEEN BEFORE
AND WHEN WE SING REDEMPTION’S SONG
TWO MORE HANDS NOW CLAP ALONG
WHEN WE STAND THERE’RE TWO MORE HAND TO PRAISE THE LORD
I was pretty satisfied with what I had so far. But then I got stuck. I felt like I had covered everything there was to say about the subject I had chosen. A few weeks went by. I wanted to pitch the song to the Cathedral Quartet, but I knew I had to have a second verse. But everything I was trying, just seem to say what the first verse had already said. Now keep in mind that this was over thirty years ago, and I was still a new, under skilled amateur writer. Although I had been writing since I was seven years old, I only had two recorded song to my credit. So, trying to make this song rise to a professional level was still very new to me.

After trying several lyrics that just didn’t work at all, I got an idea to just write something totally unrelated this song. I like to call it “chasing a rabbit just to see where it goes”. I really didn’t have another direction or idea for this song, so I just decided to write about the Cross of Calvary. There was nothing in my song yet about the Cross, and I didn’t know what would happen, but I thought, if it doesn’t work, I don’t have to use it. But at least I’ll be moving, rather than just sitting here with no direction at all. Sometimes we have to be willing to move, even if it’s in the wrong direction. You may have to move in the wrong direction for a bit, in order to realize where the right direction is.

So with that in mind, I came up with one line.

CHOSEN FOR MY SACRIFICE, ALONE TO PAY THE PRICE

At this point, I knew I had to write a second line that rhymed with the first line, because that’s what I did in the first verse. So I wrote this.

FOR THE SIN THAT I WAS IN, IT HAD COME TO TAKE MY LIFE

It’s wasn’t a pure rhyme, but it was close enough and I liked the way it sounded. But, as soon as I sang the two lines together, and idea went off in my head like a rocket, of how to tie the Cross of Calvary verse to my Two More Hands song.

Here is the completed second verse.

Verse 2
CHOSEN FOR MY SACRIFICE, ALONE TO PAY THE PRICE
FOR THE SIN THAT I WAS IN, IT HAD COME TO TAKE MY LIFE
BUT HE RAISED HIS HANDS FOR ME AND SOLDIERS NAILED THEM TO A TREE
BUT WITH LIFTED HANDS HE WON MY VICTORY

That led verse now led me right back into the chorus

NOW THERE’RE TWO MORE HANDS UPRAISED, TWO MORE HANDS ARE LIFTING PRAISE!!!

This new verse that had started off in what looked like a completely unrelated direction, now fit perfectly with what I had written in the first verse and chorus.

I sent the song to the Cathedral Quartet for consideration, and they did put it on HOLD. But to my disappointment, it did not make it onto their record. But Roger Bennet remembered the song and took it to Lulu Roman, and she did record it. Two More Hands became the first #1 charting single of my songwriting career. It is a song that has been recorded many times by various artists. I will always remember writing process of this particular song because of the valuable lesson I learned from it. I am so glad I made the decision to not settle for just restating the first verse. I will never forget chasing that rabbit! That rabbit led me to my first hit song.

If you have lyrics laying in a book or on your computer that have gone nowhere, take them out and see if the problem may be that the song just doesn’t move forward. Try chasing a few rabbits of your own and see where the lead you.

Until next time, keep on writing . . .

Daryl Williams on Facebook
Daryl Williams
Contributing Writer at Absolutely Gospel
Nominated for several awards including Grammys, Doves, Singing News Fan Awards, and Absolutely Gospel Music Awards, Daryl Williams has made an undeniable impact on the Gospel music industry. This prolific songwriter of over nine hundred songs has had his songs recorded by Larnelle Harris, The Gaither Vocal Band, The Cathedrals, The John Hagee Family, The Speer Family, The Nelons, Gold City, LuLu Roman, John Starnes, Jimmy Swaggart with Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and many more.

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