10 Well Written Songs

10 Well Written Song Lyrics

As I end my series, I want to list examples of song lyrics that were well written and became classic favorites to many. This is by no means a top ten list. This is a list of at least 10 songs that I believe are well written lyrically. In reality, there are many—an endless array of songs, written well in every decade and genre. To capture them all, for me, would seem impossible. I am sure there are songs that you know of, that are written lyrically well.

The primary reasons why I believe these song lyrics were well written are:

    • They are still powerful without music or performance added to it. In other words, their message is clearly conveyed, just as effective without accompaniments.
    • Every written line, section, and arrangement makes sense and expresses the story and/or emotion it seeks to make.

This list is not in any particular order


If you want to view the full lyrics of most of these songs, check them out at www.lyricsfreak.com
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How To Write Song Lyrics: Examples

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Part Four: Examples

There is no real technique or formula for writing song lyrics. When I say this I mean, writing a hit song—a song that will become a classic to the mass audience.  Sure, when writing song lyrics, there is the verses, chorus, and possibly bridge and pre chorus, but following those guidelines is not going to ensure that what you write will become a hit or will reach success. It is the content—the words, that is the ultimate deciding factor.

When I first starting writing, I began with song lyrics. I wrote randomly, but most of my songs followed the verse, chorus, bridge pattern. I didn’t know (and still don’t know) which songs would be a hit, because many of them were never showcased. But of the few songs I shared, I received positive feedback. When I write song lyrics, they come from “the heart”. They are based on what I feel about a particular situation or what current state of mind I’m. I don’t think about formulas or compare them to hit songs already out there. I stay true to how the song forms in my mind.

There are many ways song lyrics can be written and it will depend on content, how you want the message delivered, and how you want the movement of the song to be.

Songs from an emotional standpoint:

These are song lyrics that are not illustrative in nature, but convey a feeling about a situation, object, or person.

One example is Reach by Gloria Estefan.

Some dreams live on in time forever
Those dreams, you want with all your heart
And I’ll do whatever it takes
Follow through with the promise I made
Put it all on the line
What I hoped for at last would be mine

In songs like this, the verse is just as important as the chorus. You want the verse to sink into the listener’s mind and leave a lasting impression on them. You want the listener to find personal meaning in these lyrics. It is like you are speaking to them or can relate to them.

The chorus should summarize the overall message of the song. The chorus should get to the point and let the listener know the purpose of the song.

If I could reach, higher
Just for one moment touch the sky
From that one moment in my life
I’m gonna be stronger
Know that I’ve tried my very best
I’d put my spirit to the test
If I could reach

Songs from an illustrative standpoint:

These are story like song lyrics. They describe or talk about an environment, place, or situation. Their purpose can be purely for entertainment, but they can convey a meaningful message just like an emotional base song.

Two examples are Colors of the Wind by Vanessa Williams (Disney) and Gotham City by R Kelly.

Colors of the Wind:

You think you own whatever land you land on
The earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew

Gotham City:

I’m lookin over the skyline of the city
How loud, quiet nights in the mist of crime
How next door to happiness lives sorrow
And signals of solution in the sky

In songs like these, the verse will primary include the descriptive story words. This is the area where the story will be told, where the listener will know what the song is about and will give the chorus meaning and make sense. In songs like these, the verse is generally what will determine whether the song is a hit. If the verse is strong, chances are the song will be successful.

The chorus should, just like an emotional based song, illustrate the point of the song or the plot of the song. In an illustrative song, the chorus will most likely be as descriptive as the lyrics, but sometimes it can contain emotional based lyrics.

Colors of the Wind:

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Gotham City:

A city of justice, a city of love
A city of peace, for everyone of us
We all need it, can’t live without it
A Gotham City, oh, yeah

In writing song lyrics, a bridge is not necessary, although a lot of songs contain them. In Reach, there is no bridge, and in Colors of the Wind and Gotham City, there is a bridge of a few lines. To me, adding a bridge may be necessary if you have more than one message to get across or if you want to get your message across in a different way. Maybe the chorus does not get to the point—the bridge would be a place to get that point across.

Colors of the Wind:

How high does the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you’ll never know

Gotham City:

Yet in the middle of stormy weather
We won’t stumble and we won’t fall
I know a place that all of us shelter

Overall, in writing song lyrics, most will have a verse, chorus, and bridge. As you write more songs, you may find yourself not always needing a bridge, and maybe even wanting to stylized some songs with repeat verses, and choruses—even pre choruses, which are usually added when you want to reel in the listener to the chorus—when the chorus might be in contrast with the verse or when you want to introduce the chorus if the verse has not indicated what the chorus will be about.

It is impossible to truly determine how to write perfect song lyrics. Simply listening to popular songs out there can give insight, but just like any creative product, it is for the audience to decide. When I was serious about becoming a songwriter, I sought advice from people and books on how to write songs or even how to write authentic songs. In the end, I realized if you pay attention to how songs that are already out there are written, from the words, placement, and patterns, you will become familiar with the many ways songs are written. If you are writing songs as a beginner, it helps to look at popular songs out there and review the elements that make the songs likeable to you—what is it about the song’s structure that draw you to the song.

Songs taken from www.lyricsfreak.com.

How To Write Song Lyrics: Lyric Styles and Rhyme Patterns

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Part Three: Lyric Styles and Rhyme Patterns

Like poetry, song lyrics don’t always have to rhyme or rhyme perfectly to flow and sound well to the listener. There are many styles song lyrics can take, and there are even song lyrics out there that are styled completely at random.

Lyric Styles:

  • Rhyme—re occurrence of similar sounds
  • Alliteration—repeating same sound at beginning or within 2 + words immediately succeeding each other
  • Imagery—illustrative description
  • Personification—adding human characteristics to objects
  • Simile—comparing opposite things, often using the following words, like and as
  • Metaphor—figure of speech
  • Assonance—partial rhyme where vowel sound is stressed to sound alike but not consonant sound
  • Consonance—pleasing combo of sounds produced together
  • Anaphora—word or words that are repeated at the beginning of successive lines

Again, not all song lyrics have to rhyme, but if that is your goal, here are some things that are good to know:

There are many forms and types of rhyme patterns. There can be perfect rhyme, where a syllable of words has the same sound and beats, and there can be near rhyme, where the words have similar sounds and beats but are essential different.

No matter what rhyme pattern you use, it is ultimately important that they make sense and add to the topic of your lyrics. Never force rhymes for the sake of completing your song lyrics.

Rhyme Patterns:

*I will use single letters to denote same rhyme sound and beat*

  • ABAB
  • AABB
  • AABA
  • ABCB

This is not an exhaustive list, but an example. This also shows the endless possibilities of rhyme patterns. There can be more lines, such as ABCBCBA, or fewer lines, such as ABA, and rhyme patterns that go across different verses, such as the first block of verses rhyming with the second block of verses, but not necessarily within their own blocks.

Overall, well written song lyrics will flow well to the listener and convey a meaningful message in its topic. Whether written in perfect rhyme, near rhyme, or completely no rhyme, it will have a style that draws the listener’s ear to it and tells a complete story or expresses a solid emotion.

I hope my 3 part miniseries provided valuable information and tips in helping to write song lyrics. Continue to follow the next two weeks for specific examples of well written song lyrics and my list of 10 well written song lyrics.

 

How To Write Song Lyrics: Song Arrangements and Structures

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To read part one, click here.

Part Two: Song Arrangements and Structures

Song lyrics can be written in any way that captures the song’s meaning, story, and nature. There are song lyrics out there that are written and arranged in uncommon ways. Although not all song lyrics are written in a defined or common format, many are structured in ways that are predictable for listeners to catch on to. However as a beginning song writer, it helps to know basic structures that can guide you as you write.

Common Structures

Intro

  • Placed at the very beginning of song. Usually instrumentals or sometimes the chorus

Verse

  • Contains the story of the song

Pre Chorus

  • Not always necessary, but introduces the chorus

Chorus

  • The message of the song and most memorable to listeners

Bridge

  • Not always necessary, but is placed towards the end of a song and can wrap up the story line or extend the message of a song

Coda

  • Not always necessary, but if the chorus does not end the song, the coda will be an outro verse or instrumental, summarizing the song if the chorus did not do so

Common Song Arrangements

Verse

  •  Song lyrics are written only with verses
  • Best used when stories are being told
  • When music is accompanied, instrumentals might serve as the bridge, though no bridge structure truly exists

Verse, Bridge

  • Song lyrics are written with verses, then a bridge, and ends with a verse.

Verse, Chorus

  • Song lyrics are written with verses and choruses, alternating usually.

Verse, Chorus, Pre Chorus

  • Song lyrics are written with a verse, pre chorus, and chorus format, usually repeating twice.

Verse, Chorus, Bridge

  • Popular song lyric arrangement
  • Song lyrics are written with verse and chorus arrangement usually repeated twice , then a bridge, and ends with a chorus

Verse, Chorus, Pre Chorus, Bridge

  • Song lyrics are written with verse, pre chorus, and chorus arrangement usually repeated twice, then a bridge, and ends with a chorus

There are many ways song lyrics can be arranged, even adding different and new structures from the ones listed. As you write song lyrics, play around and experiment with the ways you write and arrange your words.

How To Write Song Lyrics: Ideas and Topics

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I believe writing song lyrics (aka, lyrical poetry) is not as difficult as one would think, primarily because when you write lyrics, it is coming from your heart—what is pressing on your mind. A lot of times, when I write song lyrics, I will free write, writing continuously with no end, it seems. Sometimes the result will be pretty good—I will find little to no revisions or structural changes needed. However, most times I will go back to arrange and rewrite things in the song lyrics.

In this 5 part How To series, I want to give helpful tips and basics on how to write song lyrics. Part one will be on determining the purpose behind writing the song lyrics, coming up with a topic and discovering what to focus on concerning the topic. I will also include additional information on song titles and music (melody).

Part One: Ideas and Topics

The first thing you should ask yourself when embarking on writing song lyrics is:

What is the goal—the overall message that I want to communicate in the song?

In other words, how do I want the listener to react or feel when hearing the song?

Some examples are:

  • Informed
  • Inspired
  • Empowered
  • Joyful

    No matter what, you want to the listener to connect to the song and find meaning for themselves with the message in the song. You want the listener to relate to the song in some way.

During the writing process, focus on the topic or subject of the song. If the topic is about a long lost best friend or a family car accident, make sure the words communicate the message and the message relates to that topic.

How To Find A Topic

The best songs come from the heart and often are not forced to follow a guideline. When writing song lyrics, be true to yourself, write about things that are on your mind and in your heart. The listener will sense the authenticity and I believe that will connect them more to the song.

As just stated, creating song lyrics start from the heart and mind—they are based on topics that matter to you most or at the moment.

Some places to start when finding topics/subjects:

  • Recent experiences
  • Current events that interest you
  • Experiences of others close to you
  • Feelings of the moment
  • Ideas and concepts stirring in your mind
  • Titles, stories, and phrases
  • Objects of intrigue and interest

Once you find your topic, think about all the feelings and pictures that it creates for you.

In other words, How does that topic make you feel, what do you think about that topic?

Additional Things To Keep In Mind

  • Titles

The title of your song lyrics is more important than you may think. Just like books and movies, titles can often catch the listener’s interest and lead them to want to know what the song is about.  To me, a song title does not necessarily have to be part of the song lyrics, although most of my song lyrics contain the title within them. But whatever the case, the title should pull in the listener—draw them to the song or let them want to know more about it. The title should sum up the song in one line.

  • Music (Melody)

When writing song lyrics, I don’t always have a permanent melody (music) that accompanies them. At the time of writing the lyrics, I will have some simple generic melody. However, about half of the song lyrics I’ve written don’t have a unique permanent melody accompanied with them. A well written song lyric will stand on its own without a melody accompanied with it, so I do not believe music has to be an essential part when writing lyrics in order for the song to be complete or stand on its own.