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101 Songwriting Wrongs and How to Right Them by Pete Luboff, Pat Luboff

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19

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Be careful with sex in your songs

In workshops and collaborations, we’ve noticed that songwriters like to play with words, all kinds of words. When the word-play ball gets rolling, it often bounces back and forth from risky business to risqué business. This is good for some laughs, but should we put it in our songs?

The answer to that question is too complicated to boil down to a simple yes or no. Let’s take the “no” side first. Sex is a big deal in everyone’s life. Therefore, it’s a natural subject for the songwriter to tackle. But if your intention is to pitch the song to a prominent recording artist, any references to sex have to be made in the porcupine style—very carefully. You can’t get more direct than John Bettis, lyricist ...

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