I try to keep that in mind but often fall short. It seems I rely on sight and touch more than the others.
But at least one master songwriter hit all the right notes, and senses, in one of his early works.
Kris Kristofferson recently made a visit to Western North Carolina to perform at Merlefest, held each year on the campus of Wilkes Community College. That made me think of his song “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” which could be used as a tutorial of effective songwriting when it comes to not just telling but also showing.
Here’s my breakdown of the song lyrics in terms of the senses employed.
Touch: “Well I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.”
Taste: “And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad so I had one more for dessert.”
Sight: “But I lit my first and watched a small kid cussin’ at a can that he was kickin’.”
Smell: “Then I crossed the empty street and caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken.”
Hearing: “And I stopped beside a Sunday school and listened to the song that they were singin’.” “Then I headed back for home and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’.”
There’s a lot more I can learn about alliteration, emphasizing the title, and anthropomorphitization (giving human feelings to inanimate objects) from that song, not to mention many of Kristofferson’s other tunes. But sometimes it’s nice to isolate and appreciate one aspect of a master’s technique.