5 Ways Second Verse Lyrics Can Destroy Your Song

writing 2nd verse lyrics-songtown


There are many ways that a song can start to go wrong in the second verse. Don’t let these “song-killers” crop up in YOUR second verses!  Here are 5 ways second verse lyrics can destroy your songs.

1) Say the same thing as the first verse in different words.

You have to give the listener something more in the second verse. Saying the same thing again bores them and they’ll turn your song off.

2) Chasing rabbits in your second verse lyrics.

Many times, writers can’t think of something new to say in the second verse, so they just say ANYTHING they can think of. It doesn’t say the same thing as the first verse, but it doesn’t really say anything at all.

3) Say the opposite of the hook.

If your hook is “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and your second verse says “I still love you”, then you’ve got confused listeners and a problem to fix. Second verses have to support the hook (title) of the song.

4) Move time in a way that is confusing or they assume the listener will know that time has gone by.

Movements in time HAVE to be spelled out clearly. Generally, you should make sure that you are moving time in one direction. Jumping from present to future to past is confusing and hard to follow.

5) Drop the ball.

Often, writers say everything they can think of to say in the first verse and chorus. The second verse drops the ball and just isn’t as interesting or well written as the rest of the song. Sometimes when this happens to me, I move my first verse down and make it the second verse. Then, I write a new first verse. Doing that forces me to re-think how to get my listener “into” my song. Your second verse needs to be equally strong as your first verse and chorus, if not stronger. The book Song Building is great for learning to pace your lyric and making sure each section of your song does it’s intended job.

If you set the bar high for your second verses and don’t let these 5 “killers” ruin your lyric, you will find yourself writing second verses that really add to song instead of just being “place holders”.


Marty Dodson - pro songwriter/instructor - SongTown

Marty Dodson is a multi-#1 hit songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting. 

5 thoughts on “5 Ways Second Verse Lyrics Can Destroy Your Song

  1. Sometimes I get so busy with myself in my music work that I don’t slow down. I did this maneuver for a recent song I’m completing a rework on, Ridin’ Coud 9, I did it because it was a strong, provocative image. And went from there. I took the “from there” & handed it to Natu. I told him I done the heavy lifting, & ket him the bones. Ha! He nailed it, & we’re coming back here with it next week!

    We changed the hook in a col way, as a last step in addition to the changes described. All of these words to say that I did that once, it worked while I sped on past allowing that strategy to sink in. I want to thank you for sharing it & slowing me down with it. Peace!

  2. Marty—thanks for the helpful and specific advice. I’m reminded of a story our friend Kim Williams told about a publisher praising the talents of a younger writer (it might have been you). The punchline, as I remember: “Is he good? He is so good he can write a second verse the first time out.”

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