I've always had an "addiction" to words. For as long as I can remember, I've had a passion for using words in music or writing & making the audience FEEL something. I love being able to let them paint a picture in their mind. Each person has a unique way of creating a story in their mind, so seeing how individuals find their own story within a song is one of the best things in the world to me as a writer.
For me, there are certain songs (as well as a few albums) that do this for my brain. These are the songs that I go back to continually when I want to better my songwriting. I listen to these songs because they are honest, raw & paint a picture in my mind like very few songs can. I'll be honest: there's a little over 30 songs I this list. I knew that the average person wouldn't read a list that long, so I've broken it up into smaller lists, no particular order. The good thing? Y'all get four weeks of these posts to look at & discover new music with! So, for the final time (for this series), I have made a list of some of those songs. I have also added them into a Spotify playlist for y'all to listen if you want! The link to that will be at the bottom of this post.
"Arms of Fire" by Brothers Osborne Writers: Connie Harrington, John Osborne, T.J. Osborne, Tim Nichols
I became a fan of Brothers Osborne & their music this past summer. I'd heard their singles, but started listening to their "non-singles" more once I realized how good their singles really were. When I was digging into their older releases, I found a song called "Arms of Fire." I started listening & liked the groove, but there was one single line in it that caught my attention: "Here's my heart, go on and brand it." WHAT?! Most people say something like "write your name on my heart" but no. They said BRAND. That is next level commitment to the person they're singing about, y'all. I heard this for the first time in my car & when that line came on, I screamed & sank DEEP down into the seat in my car. SO. GOOD.
"Masterpiece" by Pistol Annies Writers: Angaleena Presley, Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert
The Pistol Annies consists of three COOL songwriters. Each of these ladies individually write & sing great music but when you put the three of them together, something magical happens. On their latest record, Interstate Gospel, they released a song called "Masterpiece." Now first off, you can TOTALLY tell that this was written about Blake Shelton. But that's beside the point. I think it's clever that they called their relationship a work of art, something that is supposed to be beautiful, when the song then says that it wasn't as perfect as it seemed once you saw behind the scenes. My favorite line in the song is "I'm still doin' time, the king is gone. I tried to stand by my man- we were makin' plans." They found a way to tie in Miranda's wedding song to Blake IN THE BREAKUP SONG. That to me is the ultimate masterpiece. They brought the song full circle in a way that is both blunt & subtle.
"More Hearts Than Mine" & "We're Not Friends" by Ingrid Andress Writers: Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis ("More Hearts Than Mine"); AJ Pruis, Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andreas, Nate Cyphert ("We're Not Friends")
I first discovered Ingrid's music a year ago when she released "More Hearts Than Mine." I was instantly hooked on her storytelling & how effortlessly she did it. The first time I played the song for my mom, she was floored. Then the same thing happened when I showed it to all of my other friends. They were all hooked on her words. Just the title of the song alone is genius. Telling her boyfriend that she's bringing home with her, 'Hey, this is what's probably going to happen. I'm just warning you' is genius.
"We're Not Friends" Is also the epitome of a "we are way more than just friends, but we haven't called ourselves anything besides that but we both know we need to talk about this & figure our title out" song. The line "Friends don't do the things we do, friends don't use the words we use" is one of my favorites because it captures the feeling of the song so well. I think this song is relatable to so many people, which is why I love it so much. It's something that many try to accomplish, but few can succeed at.
"Piece By Piece" by Kelly Clarkson Writers: Greg Kurstin, Kelly Clarkson
The first time I heard this song was when Kelly performed it on American Idol. She was pregnant at the time & very emotional, but when she started crying, I think all of America did, too. This picture that this song paints for her audience is stunning. The story of going from a father who didn't care to having a husband as a father who cares for both her & her kids? No wonder all of America cried with her! The choruses change slightly throughout the song, but the very end of the last chorus when she says "He'll take care of things, he'll love her. Piece by piece, he restored my faith that a man can be kind and the father should be great" is like she's tying a bow up on her past & handing it back. It's a personal song to her that can still resonate with millions.
"It's Been A While Since You Missed Me" by Daniel Nunnelee Writers: Daniel Nunnelee
Daniel & I went to college together for a little bit. He was the first artist-songwriter I met & became friends with & from the moment I first hard his writing, I knew there was something special there. His writing is descriptive; he pulls you in with the details. My favorite released song by him is "It's Been A While Since You Missed Me." The line that hooks me first in this is, "I loved you then & you loved me, but now we're in between." The couple in this song is at a crossroads. One let go while the other held on too long. I think this song is relatable to anyone at this "in between" in a relationship- wondering where you stand, if you stand anywhere at all, with a person. If y'all haven't checked out Dan's music, please go do so. Every song is different in its own great way.
"Tequila" & "How Not To" by Dan + Shay Writers: Dan Smyers, Jordan Reynolds, Nicolle Galyon ("Tequila"); Adam Hambrick, Kevin Bard, Paul DiGiovanni ("How Not To")
Dan + Shay are one of the best music duos to come on the scene in the past 15 years in my opinion. Their talent, drive & charisma is compelling to many, including me. Two of the songs they've released within the past few years, "Tequila" & "How Not To," are prime examples of why their writing is also compelling, just like their personalities. "Tequila" has become an ANTHEM, both in my car & around America. The line at the end of the chorus, "I remember how bad I need ya, when I taste tequila," shows that you can forget somebody, but when you see, or in this case, taste, something that reminds you of that person, every memory comes flooding back.
"How Not To" for me is in the "relapse" category for breakup songs. The line "You're like second nature, baby, you're just like breathin'. A melody that you hear and you can't forget" in the second verse is one of my favorites because it illustrates the relapse in the song perfectly. Like any addiction, it can come back so naturally, without even thinking twice. The writers on this song combined the effects of addiction relapse & a breakup all in one song to make the audience feel like they were the ones relapsing instead of the singer. A writer has to have a special knack to be able to do that; these writers had it.
"Here You Come Again" by Dolly Parton Writers: Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
This is my favorite song, no matter what mood I'm in. If I'm happy, it makes me happier. If I'm sad or frustrated, it lifts my mood just a little bit higher. This song to me is in the "I'm over you til I'm not" category. I think a lot of people can relate to this song. Everyone's been here at least once in their life, ya know? The line "All you gotta do is smile that smile & there go all my defenses" is the icing on the cake for me. It's the beginning of the chorus, but also the start of the girl saying, "when you do this, I'm right back to square one." Dolly can make anything sound great, but she makes everyone feel hopeless for love with this song.
So there you have it- the fourth & final part of the four-part blog series, LYRICS I LOVE. I've attached a link below with all of the songs from this post so you can go listen to them for yourselves, as well as a master list of every song mentioned the past four posts.
Thank you for reading these past four weeks- I hope y'all enjoyed & found some new music (& songwriters!) to listen to!