LYRICS I LOVE: PART ONE.
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 on 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 below, 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.
NIGHTFALL by Little Big Town
Okay I know I said these were songs, but we're starting off with a record. This album was just released few weeks ago & Y'ALL- every song on here is a MASTERPIECE. Each song has such an intricate balance of words. It's a record that has balance, soul & heart put into it. Every emotion you can think of was poured into this record in one way or another. Some of my favorite writers wrote on this record: Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey (the three of them call themselves "The Love Junkies" & it's the cutest thing. They also wrote "Girl Crush" from Little Big Town's Pain Killer record), Ashley Gorley & Josh Kerr, just to name a few. Each of these songs is like a fingerprint for Little Big Town: unique. This record has been on repeat in my car & room since it was released & has already expanded my mind as a songwriter a LOT.
"If We Were Vampires" by Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit Writers: Jason Isbell
If you didn't know by now, Jason Isbell is one of my all-time favorite artists. His musicianship & lyrical prowess are on a level that I just don't think I'll ever be able to fully grasp. One of his songs in particular that does this for me is "If We Were Vampires." Jason sings this song with his wife, Amanda Shires, on his & his band's record, The Nashville Sound. The song's message says, "If we were vampires, we would live forever & not appreciate the time that we have. together. But we can't live forever, so I want to be able to love you, every piece & part of you, as much as I can while we are here together." In the second verse, two lines in particular stand out:
"I wouldn't feel the need to hold your hand
Maybe time running out is a gift"
This love ballad's title & comparison to life & vampires was strange to me at first. But Jason's incomparable writing makes it all make sense.
PS: I'm not even going to lie, I've already decided that this is going to be the song I have my first dance to at my wedding. Future hubby, I really hope you love this song just as much as me because if you don't, we may need to have a talk...
"Oklahoma" by Josh Kerr (featuring Heather Morgan) Writers: Jacob Davis, Josh Kerr, Sean McConnell
Josh Kerr has been one of my favorite writers for a HOT sec now, y'all. His writing is real & can fit across multiple genres, reaching a wide range of people. This past year, he started releasing his own music as well & obviously it's just as good as the songs he's written for other artists! "Oklahoma" was released in the early fall. What hooked me was the line "I didn't lose you to a person, I lost you to a place." Y'ALL. I think I screamed when I heard that line because it was that GOOD. And to make it better, he added Heather Morgan in on harmonies. Together, it sounds like heaven.
PS: Shoutout to his fiancé, Taylor, for the inspo!
"This Town Is Killing Me" by Caitlyn Smith Writers: Caitlyn Smith, Gordie Sampson, Paul Moak
This song is truly one of a kind. While many people in Nashville write a song titled "Nashville" or about the hardships of being a struggling artist, Caitlyn has a way of saying what everyone was thinking, the DEEP thoughts, & putting them to music. "I scream my lungs out, confess my secrets, own my sins" is just a sliver of the all-too-real photo she captures in this song. By the end of it, she sings "Nashville you win cause I'll wake up here tomorrow & do it all over again, even though you're killing me..." And it's true. So many artists, songwriters & creatives want to give up, but they just can't because they know there's a reason they're writing & performing & singing until their lungs bleed. There's an audience out there for everyone. Someone can relate to your songs- & I think Caitlyn proved that when she released this one.
"Hold My Hand" by Brandy Clark Writers: Brandy Clark, Mark Stephen Jones
Brandy Clark is one of my favorite artist-songwriters to ever come on the scene. The way she illustrates her songs to her audience is such a rare power that few can have as both an artist & a songwriter. My favorite song by her though is "Hold My Hand." The description in the first verse alone blows me away. But the chorus is such a simple & sweet plea.
"Don't let this moment linger
Now would be a real good time
To reach out with your fingers
And get 'em tangled up with mine.
Let her know for sure
That I'm more than just a soft place to land
This'd be a real good time to hold my hand."
The line "I'm more than just a soft place to land" is the turning point in the chorus. She's saying, "Let your ex know that I'm not just here for right now. Let her know that I'm yours, that we're together, that you are MINE." But she isn't being forceful about it. Instead, she's being sympathetic toward's the other person's feelings. She lets them decide for themselves, but also lets them know how she feels as well.
"What If I Never Get Over You" by Lady Antebellum Writers: Jon Green, Laura Veltz, Ryan Hurd, Sam Ellis
This song sounds a lot like earlier Lady Antebellum music & in the best way possible. This sounds like the roots of what their music is all about to me. It's one of those songs that you hear & immediately think 'holy crap, I wish I was in the room when they wrote this.' My favorite line in this song is "And what if time doesn't do what it's supposed to do?" in the chorus. People say that time can heal anything, but in the case of this song, the person is questioning if that's always true. I love when songs question things like that. The concepts & lyrics that come from it are always fresh because everyone has a slightly different view on those things.
"Don't Let Her" & "Acceptance Speech- 8Track" by Walker Hayes Writers: Andrew DeRoberts, Shane McAnally, Walker Hayes ("Don't Let Her"); Jimmy Robbins, Kelsea Ballerini, Nicolle Galyon, Walker Hayes ("Acceptance Speech")
Walker Hayes is lyrically genius on a whole different level than anyone else I've heard. I started listening to him my freshman year of college, right before I went to a Kelsea Ballerini show where he opened. After seeing him live, I was hooked on his lyrics.The two I picked here are just some of my favorites by him. The first one, "Don't Let Her," is a message from him to his wife's "future someone" if anything should ever happen to him (Walker). In the first verse, the line "But if I'm just half of her forever, this goes out to whoever takes my place" opens the door for him to tell the future person everything he needs to know. The details in this song, from "She loves babies, hates glitter" to "Her favorite season is football" are so specific that at a first glance, you would think many people wouldn't be able to connect; However, it's one of the sweetest & most relatable love songs I've ever heard. Hearing the details that he notices about her in this is the most special part about it.
"Acceptance Speech" was just released within the past few months. This song is for anyone who is accepting where they are in life. It's a look back at what they thought it was going to be, but being okay with being where you are in life right then, & being proud for how far you have come so far. In the first verse, he says "Just a recovering validation-aholic" & "Hooked up to that approval like an IV." Y'ALL. I am pretty sure I threw a mental celebration when I heard the word "validation-aholic." That's something that I don't think anyone had made up until these four writers did- but now I want to find a way to incorporate that word into every day of my life at least once. Walker has a way of creating words that don't make sense until he puts them to lyrics. An idiosyncratic talent that he could quite possibly be the only one in the world to possess.
So there you have it- part one of the four-part blog series, LYRICS I LOVE. I've attached a link below with all of these songs so you can go listen to them for yourselves. And remember: check back next week for part two!