Songwriting and Publishing: Burning Bridges

Burning Bridges

Any fan of Taylor Swift can reassure you that there is no better feeling than screaming one of her bridges at the top of your lungs. You might even lose your voice from it. There’s something in the way that she writes this pivotal part of her songs; they make you feel like you’re releasing the emotions you’ve tried so hard to gather. The bridge of any song, but hers, in particular, progresses the story, allowing the audience to fluidly follow. For example, the bridge of Taylor’s song “Cruel Summer” gets me every time. The catchiness of the shift in melody and the impact of such well-written lyrics make it impossible to not scream along. It evokes the feeling of falling in love with the windows down in your car going a million miles an hour. Listening to it makes you feel like you’ve just popped a bottle of champagne and there’s an overflow of bubbles you cannot contain. This is what makes a good bridge; not only does the song provoke such emotion, but it is the shift in emotion that makes it so valuable. It is the showing and not telling part of the song that allows people to feel such an overwhelmingness of emotion that you, plain and simple, have to scream. 

With such high expectations to live up to, writing a bridge is very difficult for me, especially the part where you change tones in the melody. Usually, in all the songs I listen to, the bridge is a variation or alteration of the original chord progression found in the verses and the chorus. This automatically sets the tone for the bridge. Will it be uplifting or will it be absolutely gut-wrenching? If it’s uplifting, major chords will suffice, but if it’s a sadder vibe you are willing to achieve, minor chords are your best friend. Sometimes, or in my case, I chose to make the bridge in my song take a more despairing turn melodically, but have the lyrics be on the happier side to create a push and pull effect. I think that this adds more dimension to what I’m trying to achieve. Yes, a love song is supposed to be happy and make you feel, well, in love, but love itself is a very complicated emotion. It is not a linear line to get from point A to B, but more like a tornado of different emotions combined into one. Cruel Summer is a perfect example of this. It makes you feel happy during the verses and chorus, but once that bridge hits, I’m three sheets to the wind and angered, wanting to scream the words that Taylor wrote so beautifully. 

There is no such thing as a perfect bridge, let alone, any part of a song. What I think makes an effective bridge is a distinctive contrast in point of view. Lyrically the words shouldn’t be ones that simply push or continue the already stated narrative but create a new outlook. I usually draw inspiration from events in my life to solidify what I’m trying to convey. In any circumstance, this is the most natural way for me to gather inspiration. For example, Taylor Swift’s song “Betty” is told from a whole different point of view that isn’t Betty’s, but from a teenage boy who is experiencing losing his first love after making a huge mistake. This throws the audience off, but when you listen to it, the more intense it grows, all from a perspective that isn’t her own. The bridge in this song is a sense of realization in his apology, saying “I was walking home on broken cobblestones/ Just thinking of you/ When she pulled up like/ A figment of my worst intentions/ She said “James, get in, let’s drive”/ Those days turned into nights/ Slept next to her, but/ I dreamt of you all summer long”. This bridge not only leads us listeners right into the sweet spot of the song but unpacks more of the story as to why things happened the way they did. 

It’s important to note that not all songs need bridges and sometimes it doesn’t even feel necessary to clump one in. A bridge should act as an emotional response to the rest of the verses and chorus. Think of it as a tool to lyrically shift the perspective in your writing, but it is not always imperative to include one, some songs do just fine without them. What I love the most about bridges and writing them is that they take a situation and look at it from a completely different angle which can be so therapeutic, especially if the song is based on true life experiences. It gives not only the audience clarity for the sake of the progression of the story, but it allows you as a writer to step back from your work and look at your inspirations from a completely fresh point of view. 

Use this coupon at Al’s Cafe to get a $10 student deal to grab a sub in between songwriting!

By Megan Grosfeld

Megan Grosfeld is a Junior at Emerson College majoring in Writing, Literature, and Publishing with a concentration in Publishing. Her dream is to be like the modern Carrie Bradshaw of the Publishing world, but with more writing, sex, and infinite pairs of Manolo Blahniks.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services. At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.