Arts & Entertainment, Music

Turning Life Into Lyrics

Ringo Starr

Lesson time 10:16 min

Discussing his songwriting contributions as a Beatle and in solo work, Ringo cites the lyrical origin of “Octopus’s Garden,” “Back Off Boogaloo,” and other songs. You’ll learn about songwriting, from concept or phrase to fully realized song.

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Topics include: Finding the Words · Writing With the Beatles · Case Study: “Octopus’s Garden” · Case Study: “Back Off Boogaloo”


[MUSIC - THE BEATLES, "OCTOPUS'S GARDEN"] (SINGING) I'd ask my friends to come and see an octopus's garden with me. - Well, let's talk about songwriting. It all comes together, the words and the melody. And it can come from anywhere. I've got notebooks full of one lines or three words, even. I had this line, "How could I be so wrong for so long?" I didn't say it. I know the man who said it. And it became a song, because we need the top-line to get us into the emotion of where we're going. And that was such a great line. So, I think that was like three years ago. We made that record. Of course, I claim all credit. There's not a lot of, like, getting ready. I don't know how you can-- I'm not putting down people who do. They get up, and that's what they do. They're the writers, where I just get lucky every couple of days. But I can't, like, I'm getting ready to write a song. There's no emotion in that for me. It's like, oh, wow, who said that? It's great! Come on over. I've got two lines. There's not many songs I write by myself anymore. I enjoy hanging out with writers, musicians, and I'll call people over. They may have a word or two. They have lists, too. We'll take one of theirs. But if it's my record, I write it with other people. But I always direct it. And it's always like a peace and love direction. I have a song I wrote, and it's called "Three Ships in the Harbor." And I've never recorded it, but it had 28 verses. George was so great because I never knew how to end a song. I just keep going on. And he was great to, "We'll end it there." Or he'd throw a few lines in, and he would produce it for me as my first producer. And so, to the writers, yeah, keep it short. And I don't know if it's because I'm from the '60s where every record was, at the most, 2 and 1/2 minutes. And we changed all of that by '68. They were a little longer. Give it the great structure. And if you want it longer, don't fade for a while. [MUSIC - THE BEATLES, "DON'T PASS ME BY"] (SINGING) Don't pass me by. Don't make me cry. Don't make me blue. INTERVIEWER: Has Ringo ever written a song or does he plan to? - I've-- INTERVIEWER: - I've written one, but we never seem to get around to recording it. A lot of people know about it. In 1962 and '3 mainly, when we started going into the studio with The Beatles-- it's a Beatles story-- I would write songs. And I'd present them. I'd say, I've got this song. And they would just roll over on the floor laughing, because I hadn't noticed I'd just rewritten other songs. I thought it was mine. So, it took me another year or two before I got the melody and the words. But that's just one of those moments you'll never forget. What? Come on, man. Well, you know, that's whatever. So that was the first attempt. But then I did start to love writing. George got into writing. He wrote some beautiful songs, a privilege to play on them...

About the Instructor

Music legend Ringo Starr helped create rock ’n’ roll drumming as we know it today. Now the 9-time Grammy Award winner wants to inspire new and seasoned drummers alike. Through demonstrations behind the kit and personal stories from his time in The Beatles, Ringo shares his principles for creative collaboration, finding your unique playing style, and embracing your musical journey with joy.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Ringo Starr

Legendary drummer Ringo Starr walks you through his approach to creative collaboration, playing with heart, and embracing your musical journey.

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