Michael R. J. Roth Wins Fall 2018 Lyric Contest. 

Thanks to DSA President Michael Brandenberger for his comments.

1st Place – The Price of a Song by Michael R J Roth

Everybody wants a ticket to heaven
Everyone wants the last drop of wine
Everybody wants to end the discussion
And stand where the spotlight will shine
Everybody wants something for nothin’, 
As if nothing could ever go wrong
And they want it all, they want it all
For the price of a song
[But] The price of a song
Is the last glimpse of beauty
Before you go blind
The wounds of a soldier 
Cut down under fire
The scar left behind
The tears of a mother
With a child in her arms
The Judas kiss of a faithless lover
Who will rip out your heart
For the price of a song
There’s a song in the thunder and lightning,
On the bloodthirsty edge of a knife,
In a shot from a bottle of whiskey
Pushing emptiness back in the night
There’s a song on the highway before you
Between the prison bars of a cell
In a cry out to God in the midst of misfortune
A glimmer of heaven while walking through hell
When I think of the times that I have been injured
How I was maimed by the things I did wrong
And the pain that inevitably lingers 
through the night and into the dawn
I know I’m not one of the chosen
I know that I’m not very strong
But I know every time I was broken
I broke into song
These lyrics have a lot of good imagery and do a good job of relating strong personal feelings in each verse with lots of originality and emotional truth .  The overall rhyme scheme and structure is good with a verse chorus sequence and the meter appears to be consistent.   The hook is a good one but is only in the first verse and chorus but not in the 2nd or 3rd verses.  Although the word “song “is mentioned in the last line of verse 3 the word “out” should be inserted after “broke” for clarity and consistent meter.  The songwriter doesn’t clearly identify it, but the 2nd “verse” seems to be more of a bridge than a verse and is a good place to change the musics’ direction if the song were to be sung.  The only confusing issue with the song is that the 1st verse seems to say the the price of a song is very cheap, but the chorus then seems to say that the price of a song is very high because the selected imagery tells about things that have a very high cost.   Overall a very good song lyric that would be relatively easy to put to music.
2nd Place – Blasphemous Kiss by Michael R J Roth 
I get up and look in the mirror
See the lipstick kiss on the glass
You left me as a reminder
Of the kisses on tissues 
You threw in the trash
There’s an earring you left on the counter
I bought at the local Walmart
A cheap little ruby on Valentine’s Day
You wore to display
The last piece of my heart
So here’s to the times you betrayed me
Yes, every last blasphemous kiss 
When I thought that our love was holy
And you knew it didn’t exist
You reveled, it seems, 
In the struggle between
The angel in me and 
The devil I couldn’t resist
I can’t fill the space in my closet
Where all of your clothes used to be
Or patch up the crack in my memory
That broke when you shot off
That last look at me
I wouldn’t have stolen those kisses
If I knew how much I’d have to pay
And now I’m just sitting here doing my time
Holding my heart
Like a withered bouquet
This first thing that is noticed with this song is that there is virtually no hook.  The title appears only one time in the second line of the chorus.  The chorus could be re-written to include the thoughts in while putting “blasphemous kiss” at the end of the chorus.  Overall there is good imagery and originality throughout.  The structure is a little different with verse-verse-chorus-verse-verse chorus.  Perhaps one of the verse could be made into a bridge or pre-chorus.  The rhyme scheme is also a different a-b-c-d-b, which could work but it was hard to feel what meter the songwriter was using.  Overall it is a good song that could be made a little better with some structural changes.


Songwriter Michael R. J. Roth was the winner of the 2019 NSAI Song Contest for lyric writing, and received a Gold Award from the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest for lyrics. He has been called “a cool dark troubadour” and “an amazing writer” by fans and industry professionals, evoking a mix of Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon and others with lyrics known for their intriguing imagery and “deep, profound truth.” He is featured in the Great American Song Hall of Fame, and is known for his award-winning, original acoustic songs with “the kind of lyrics that make Nashville writers salivate.” NSAI named him “One to Watch.”

Past songwriting awards include First Place Lyric Winner in the Unisong International Song Contest, the Great American Song Contest, the Austin Songwriters Group and the Dallas Songwriters Association competitions. He also received two Honorable Mentions in American Songwriter Magazine. He has been a First-Place winner and finalist in numerous other competitions.