SongTown: Does Your Song Need a Bridge?
So you’ve reached that point in the song; you’ve written two verses and a chorus, and that little voice in your head says “I need to write a bridge.”
But do you really??? When do you know if a song truly needs a bridge?
I’ve heard publishers say things to their writers like, “You must write bridges because the last three hits on radio had a bridge.” Personally I have reached the top of the top 40 charts both with and without bridges. Here are a few guidelines I’ve used over the years.
Have you said everything in your song you need to say? If you have already said everything you wanted to say in the verses and chorus then there is no real need to write more words, you will simply bore the listener. Bridges need to take you to a new place and offer additional insight. If you feel you’ve covered everything in the meat of the song then don’t clutter your song with more lyrics because you feel you have to have a bridge.
If you decide you don’t need a lyrical bridge then consider other options. Perhaps a musical bridge will serve the song better. Taking the song to a new harmonic or rhythmic place can keep the listener engaged without boring them with unnecessary lyrics. Consider a guitar or instrumental solo over verse chord changes.
If your song is already fairly complex harmonically then adding an additional harmonic section could sound like overkill and you could be asking too much of the listener to follow what feels like meandering. So consider an instrumental solo over a previous harmonic section of your song. Such as the verse or pre-chorus section of your song.
And finally if you decide your song could benefit from new words and music, the write a great bridge!
So these are a few of the guidelines I use when face with the question “to bridge or not to bridge.” Remember a forced bridge will sound just that..forced. But there’s nothing better than a really well written bridge that takes you somewhere both lyrically and musically, if it has a reason and purpose for being in your song.
Clay Mills is a 11-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. His songs have been recorded by such artist as Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Babyface, Reba McEntire, and Kimberly Locke. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Follow him here: www.facebook.com/songtownusa, at www.claymills.com, and at www.facebook.com/claymillsii or visit Twiiter@SongTownUSA