"Hey, hey mama said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove."
If you're a Led Zeppelin fan, you can't help but to hear the heavy guitar riff that follows that line in "Black Dog." Indeed, much of Zeppelin's appeal is the driving percussion and inventive guitar, as well as Robert Plant's vocals singing lyrics that are at times drenched in sensuality. (Again from "Black Dog": "Hey, hey baby, when you walk that way, watch honey drip, can't look away.")
I think that, even though this may not be high-brow art, I consider it a masterful use of language. Consider the image of honey dripping. Take a second and see that image in your mind. Consider the color of honey, the light that it reflects and refracts, and especially how slowly honey drips and how sticky it is to the touch. All of this emotional content is contained in three words: Watch. Honey. Drip.
Another lyric I've always admired, from "Tangerine," speaks to the precision good writers are able to achieve:
Thinking how it used to be,
Does she still remember times like these?
When Plant sings these lines, he pauses slightly in the middle of the word "remember," which gives you time to complete the line in your mind before you hear it. And most people, I believe, complete that with "me," as in "Does she still remember me?"
Why is this significant? Because when you complete it yourself one way, and Plant delivers it another way, both meanings are communicated. In this case, you automatically connect the concept of "me" with the concept of "times like these" and the end result is a more powerful, more emotive effect.
This is no accident. This is the craft an excellent writer.
The White Stripes offer another example. In the song "Take Take Take," Jack White sings:
Then I saw what she wrote.
My heart is in my ___________
Care to guess what the last word is? Most people will complete that line in their minds with "throat" because it's a common phrase and it rhymes with "wrote." But White actually sings, "My heart is in my mouth." By combining the two concepts, mouth and throat (what you expect with what you hear), the impact is more powerful.
These are minor details that tend to go unnoticed by the listener or reader, but significantly impact their experience as they absorb your written words. As writers, we can always make our work stronger by paying attention to the connotations our words carry at this "micro" level of detail.
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