Great Song is in the Power of Its Lyrics
How many times have you fallen in love with a song and just had to find out what the lyrics were? Or, you knew only some of the lyrics and just had to know the song? I’ve been known to be in my car with the radio on full blast and hear a song I’m crazy about but had no clue who the artist was. So, I’d jot down a few lyrics and later Google them in hopes of finding my mystery singer. (Am I alone in this? I think not!)
But really, when it comes down to it… what makes a song so powerful? With the exception of instrumental and classical music, I keep coming back to the lyrics. The music and lyrics combined, can sometimes reach right in to your heart and really pull you, and make you feel that the song was written specifically for you even though the song was written about something the writer were inspired by at the time. That’s the mark of a good songwriter; he/she will have some kind of empathy with the audience. It doesn’t have to be a well known well loved song to make it a powerful one.
A great song will bypass our cognitive thoughts and go straight to our emotions. That’s the mysterious nature of music. Even though we all enjoy listening to it, explaining which song becomes our favorite is difficult at best. It can make us feel love, heartbreak, anger, or joy. This is what makes it so special.
Lyrics to a great song can act as a marker in our lives as we go through our “rights of passage” later reflecting on that “one song” reminding us of a time we felt invincible, learned a hard lesson about life, or celebrated a goofy moment with friends or family. I can think of when I first got my driver’s license and was cruising down the back roads in my mother’s Buick Electra station wagon blaring “I can’t drive 55” by Sammy Hagar. Yeah!
Then there’s the song that tells a story or explains what is happening in our day and age as in the case of “Steeltown” by Big Country. In this example, Maggie Thatcher convincingly uproots unemployed citizens from Scotland to move to Liverpool with the promise of a brighter future in the steel industry. And of course, the story ends with her shutting down the steelworks in Great Britain leaving these folks stranded and once again unemployed far away from their friends and family.
There’s also the big hit song, Like Toy Soldiers. In his story, the famous rap artist Eminem tells of his attempts to calm a violent community of rappers. He even goes as far as to discuss other rap wars gone awry, and finishes out the song with a “cease-fire” to his enemies. The power of the lyrics in this case not only tell a story, but they attempt to change the course of the future.