Lewis Capaldi - The Needless Struggle of a Successful Music Artist

So, I recently dived into Netflix's documentary about Lewis Capaldi, titled "Lewis Capaldi: How I'm Feeling Now," and let me tell you, it was a rollercoaster of emotions - inspiring and tear-jerking in equal measure.

Lewis Capaldi, the Scottish crooning sensation, burst onto the scene in 2016 with his hit single "Bruises." It skyrocketed him to fame, garnering millions of Spotify streams, and the rest is history.

Capaldi's meteoric rise continued with more tunes, including the heart-wrenching "Someone You Loved," which took the world by storm, topping charts and earning kudos left and right.

Let's not forget, Capaldi is an award-winning maestro too.

Lewis Capaldi  - Struggle with Writing Songs - Netflix Documentary

Source: Netflix

But, you know what they say - with great power comes great responsibility.

After smashing records with his debut album, "Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent," Capaldi faced a mammoth task - to deliver an encore that would live up to the hype.

The documentary laid bare Capaldi's battle with mental health and writer's block, showing the merciless pressure of the music biz.

He'd already sold millions of copies of his first album, but the weight of expectations was crushing him. He had two options: call it quits or buckle down and produce another masterpiece.

Spoiler alert: he chose the latter. And it wasn't easy.

Capaldi penned over 50 tunes for his effort, only to have his manager reject them all. Talk about a gut punch.

Lewis Capaldi  - Struggle with Writing Lyrics - Narrative Songwriting

Source: Getty Images

Anxiety clung to him like a cheap suit, and his whole body jitterbugged, wracked by the emotional tempest brewing within.

He felt like a phony, a wannabe wordsmith—ever been there?—but the proof of his lyrical prowess was there, buried beneath self-doubt.

Oh, I wished I could have been there.

You know how it is, gazing in from the sidelines, spotting the grand scheme while the poor sod's in the thick of it, flailing in a quagmire of chaos. Ever felt that way about a struggling chum or family member?

That's how it felt hearing him say:

"I'm just not good at writing lyrics."

He is. We all know that.

But when you're under the crushing weight of concocting not just an album, but a chart-topping, Earth-shattering hit, things can go pear-shaped.

Enter Capaldi's conundrum.

Ponder this.

He'd been penning tunes since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Hits like Bruises and Someone You Loved emerged without the pressure of global stardom. But once fame swanned in, the game changed.

Lewis Capaldi  - Struggle with Writing Lyrics - Narrative Songwriting

Source: Instagram

Lewis Capaldi - The Saga Begins

Picture wee Lewis Capaldi at 11, crooning Oasis and The Killers to pub patrons in Edinburgh and Glasgow, armed with only a guitar and plucky spirit. Our brave lad would sneak into bathrooms, bursting forth to perform and hoping to evade the eagle-eyed bouncers. Slipping in an original tune before getting booted?

His voice sounded like Joe Cocker's — potent, stirring, and raw. The masses soon hankered for more. In 2016, he launched Bruises as an unsigned act, the ditty skyrocketing to 25 million Spotify plays faster than you can say "blimey!"

By 2018, he'd inked a major label deal, and Someone You Loved ruled the roost for seven weeks, selling a whopping 4.2 million copies in the UK. Capaldi's dogged dedication and unique sound have carved him a niche among the music world's crème de la crème.

The clock was ticking; a new album beckoned. Imagine the Herculean task: juggling lyrics, melody, production, and the eternal debate—music first, or words?

The project morphed into a behemoth, and Capaldi found himself lost, unsure where to begin. He opted to start with music, but the gnawing pressure to craft poignant lyrics intensified: I gotta write the lyrics. I gotta tug at heartstrings. I can't. I can't. I can't.

And I don't want that to happen to you.

Suppose you're at a juncture in your profession where a mere fraction of Capaldi's triumph would satiate you. Regardless, the time will come when you must confront comparable pressures and expectations.

If you, like Capaldi, desire to pen poignant songs that profoundly affect listeners, it's crucial to comprehend the process. You must grasp the elements that enable the creation of a song capable of resonating with millions, evoking emotions so intense that tears are shed.

It's not about writing countless songs, hoping improvement will emerge. A more effective approach exists for crafting emotional lyrics that resonate with the listeners.

A single word encapsulates the answer to this monumental inquiry.

The word is "Storytelling."

The Significance of Storytelling in Songwriting:

Storytelling has been a fundamental part of human communication for thousands of years, and its importance in songwriting cannot be overstated. In fact, songs that tell a compelling story can save lives, inspire change, and make a lasting impact on society.

For example, Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'" became an anthem for the civil rights movement in the 1960s, inspiring people to stand up against injustice and fight for equality. Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" shed light on the struggles of veterans returning home from the Vietnam War and raised awareness of the need for better support systems for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Storytelling in songwriting is not just important for addressing social issues; it can also have a profound impact on individuals. Many people turn to music as a source of comfort and healing during difficult times in their lives. Songs that tell personal stories of struggle, triumph, and resilience can offer hope and solace to those going through similar experiences.

For example, Kesha's "Praying" is a powerful anthem about surviving abuse and finding strength in the face of adversity. The song has touched the lives of countless survivors of abuse and inspired them to speak out and seek help.

Storytelling in songwriting is a powerful and transformative tool that can save lives and inspire change. By using narrative songwriting to tell meaningful stories, songwriters have the ability to connect with their listeners on a deep and emotional level, and make a lasting impact on the world.

Lewis Capaldi grappled with penning lyrics, lacking a dependable method. Uncertain of where or how to initiate, he struggled to morph his intense emotions into relatable words for others.

Indeed, he'd done it before. Writing songs since age 11, Capaldi released his debut album at 22. Over 11 years, he crafted those 12 exceptional tracks.

However, for his sophomore album, an 11-year timeline and opportunities to test new tunes at pubs were absent. With a constrained timeframe and limited audience feedback, the pressure mounted.

All eyes fixated on Capaldi.

Unsurprisingly, anxiety escalated, leading him to a hiatus for mental health. Meeting expectations felt impossible, yet quitting wasn't an option—too many relied on him.

Lewis Capaldi  - Struggle with Writing Lyrics - Narrative Songwriting

There's a better way to write emotional lyrics without the struggle or feeling overwhelmed.

To evade this high-pressure environment and impostor syndrome, view lyric writing as a teachable, learnable craft.

This doesn't mean merely dusting off tomes on lyric structure, melody, rhyme, and rhythm. Those technical aspects are crucial, but no one says, "That brilliant rhyme scheme saved my life."

So, there's more to lyric writing, right?

The ART of writing lyrics

The ART focuses on conveying personal significance in a way others grasp, feel, and derive meaning from.

The ART delves into the substance of your lyrics.

It's about connecting human-to-human, sharing something worthwhile.

Unearthing the right subject can be challenging, and crafting relatable lyrics for listeners to adopt is even more daunting.

That's why we must reevaluate the ART of lyric writing. There's no enigmatic poetic ritual of suffering, yearning for greatness to emerge.

Life is filled with patterns that resonate with people.

In songwriting, to create emotional, heart-wrenching lyrics that induce tears or inspire sing-alongs, we cannot dismiss storytelling.

Emotional songwriting is storytelling.

Embrace Narrative Songwriting as the key to unleashing your true songwriting potential.

What is Narrative Songwriting?

Narrative songwriting is not just a genre of music, but a powerful tool for songwriters to connect with their listeners on a deep and emotional level. While it may be associated with certain music genres like folk, country, and rock music, the key to writing emotional lyrics is through a narrative.

Narrative songwriting can't be considered a separate aspect when writing lyrics; rather, storytelling is the foundation for impactful, meaningful, captivating, compelling, and engaging lyrics. By weaving a story into your lyrics and music, you can create a memorable experience that resonates with your audience long after the song is over.

Narrative songwriting allows you to share your experiences, emotions, and ideas with your listeners in a way that is relatable and accessible. Whether you're telling a personal story or a fictional tale, a narrative arc provides structure and purpose to your lyrics, and allows you to connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Through narrative songwriting, you can create songs that inspire, challenge, and uplift your listeners. The power of storytelling in music cannot be underestimated, and by mastering the art of narrative songwriting, you can create songs that touch the hearts and minds of people around the world.

Diving into the realm of narrative songwriting isn't solely about crafting an all-encompassing tale – although My Chemical Romance's "Welcome to the Black Parade" is a testament to its possibility. Rather, it's about penning a poignant episode akin to a captivating movie scene that resonates with listeners.

Dissecting songs reveals key components that, without which, would render the composition nonsensical.

The most essential elements are:

  • A character
  • who faces a problem
  • and there's something at stake if the character does not act

Audiences seldom seek out tales of perfection, as these rarely reflect reality. Real life brims with challenges, and when listeners tune in to songs, they crave an ongoing inner dialogue that makes them feel understood and engaged.

And thus, a narrative unfolds.

If your ambition is to create a chart-topping hit or a deeply meaningful piece, it's crucial to embrace the artistry of lyric writing. This, in essence, is the heart of narrative songwriting.

Timeless songs that have ascended the charts and endured the test of time all harbor an underlying story. Delve into your favorite tunes, and you'll discover an intriguing narrative woven into the lyrics – the magic of narrative songwriting in action.

So if you want to write powerful lyrics, there's only one way to do it: Learning about the art of writing lyrics which is Narrative Songwriting.

Get started with my "21 steps to a Written Lyric"

I have prepared a step-by-step roadmap for you that will guide you from idea to the finished version of your lyrics.

This checklist helps you:

  • find and validate your song idea so you know people want to hear about this in a song
  • discover the essential elements to include in the lyrics so you know what you can put inside your lyrics' verses and chorus
  • express what matters to you so that other people feel it
  • how to include a meaningful takeaway that moves people
  • how to write lyrics so you can actually finish them without facing all the overwhelm

To get the "21 steps to a written Lyric" roadmap, click the button below. On the next page, simply enter your name and email address and the guide is on its way to you!

Thanks for reading, Melanie.

Discover the 99 Secrets so your songs can make an impact, move people, and become successful.

Get insider tips, strategies, techniques, tweaks, and little-known formulas that have helped the best songwriters write powerful lyrics every time. And discover how to overcome self-doubt and find the purpose of WHY we have to do our best when it comes to writing the lyrics for a song.

99 Secrets of Great Lyrics