Simply put, to know Pat's work is to revere it. He is the absolute master of the craft of lyric structure and it's consequential impact on the quality of a song. Period!
Pat Pattison has been teaching lyric song writing and poetry at Berklee College of Music since 1975, and has played an integral part in developing Berklee's songwriting program, which was the first complete songwriting degree program to be offered anywhere, and is arguably the best in the world. Among the many other vast contributions Pat makes to the music industry, he also spends a lot of time writing in Nashville, works for TV and film, and does a ton of workshops and clinics all over the world.
In the forward of "Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure" Pat indicates that "This is not a general book on lyric writing...it's specific purpose is to help you handle your lyric structure more effectively."
This is great because, instead of trying to deal with all aspects of lyric writing in a diluted overview, Pat instead, offers a very concentrated and detailed discourse on the aspect of song craft that seems to be most absent in most songwriters background...the deliberate use of structure.
Throughout the book Pat uses an analogy, comparing lyric writing to juggling. When you juggle, you start with one ball and work on attaining that skill before adding a second, third or fourth ball, or before attempting to juggle with flaming batons or chainsaws.
The first "ball" we want to try and juggle in our lyric development is the identification, study and manipulation of a lyric phrase. Pat is very skilled in providing perfect examples to show; how to match lyric phrases with the musical ones they sit on, how to write sections of a song with balanced or unbalanced sets of phrases, and how to contrast balanced and unbalanced sections to create a feeling in your listener that the song is moving forward to another section, or is resolving; coming to rest to end that collection of ideas.
This is very cool to know, especially if you are like me and really struggle with lyrics and usually find that, after a lot of frustration, that a structural oversight or flaw is often the problem.
Enough about me...back to the book.
The remaining chapters in the book break your lyric into syllables, rhyme schemes, song parts like; verses, choruses and those dreaded bridges. It then takes a concentrated look at song form and where to place the hook...you know, the part that makes your listener remember that you have a song.
The thing that Pat Pattison's books do better than any other books out there, is that they make people write purposefully objective rather than aimlessly subjective. He does it in a way that channels creativity rather than controlling it and he does it with a sense of style and humour that is very engaging.
I can now see why the publisher decided to name this book, Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure because essential is just how I would describe it.