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.
"I Know You Won't" by Carrie Underwood
Writers: Neil Thrasher, Steve McEwan, Wendell Mobley
Alright. Let's TALK about this one. I hadn't heard this song (like HEARD heard it) until April 16, 2019 (yes, I remember the date. Thanks, Instagram archives). I went to 3rd & Lindsley with my best friend to a songwriter show. In one round, Wendell Mobley was there. I had heard the name before, but hadn't realized how much he had written that I listened to until he kept playing hit after hit that lived in my Spotify playlists. Then he started playing a song that he said, "I would play this live, then Carrie Underwood sang it beautifully, & now I'm afraid to sing it" (not word for word, but you get the gist). Well let me just say: first off, Wendell has one of THE BEST voices I have ever heard. But the opening lines to the song are what hooked me:
"I know you don't mean to be mean to me cause when you want to, you can make me feel like we belong."
Y'all. This song is RAW. It is full of pain & hurt & everything that, as horrible as it is to say, you want in a sad song. Wendell wrote it, Carrie sang it, then Rascal Flatts covered it on a record of theirs a few years back. Whoever sings it breathes a different kind of pain into it, but the core of the song is still there.
PS: I attached a link of Wendell singing this song somewhere a while back because I think everyone needs to hear him sing this at least once in their life.
"Hold On" by Chord Overstreet Writers: Chord Overstreet, Ian Keaggy
Like a lot of people, I knew Chord Overstreet originally from the TV show Glee. I watched the show when I was in high school & loved it. I didn't realize that some of the actors on there did music too. I found this song after my best friend from high school played it in her car one day. I loved the sound of it right from the start, but then I loved it even more once I listened to the gut-wrenching story it told. It tells the story of attempted suicide, but for the other person in the story, how painful the thought of losing their "person" is for them as they try to save them. The last two lines of the first verse say:
"I pull you in to feel your heartbeat- can you hear me screaming, 'Please don't leave me'?"
This entire song tells a story that isn't told a ton in music. It's different than a lot of songs I've heard before, but it's worth the listen.
"Heart Like Mine" & "We Were" by Keith Urban Writers: Butch Walker, Keith Urban ("Heart Like Mine"); Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Ryan Tyndall ("We Were")
Alright, here's another one of my favorite artists here. Keith has been one of my favorite artists since middle school. He's also mine & my mom's favorite person to see in concert. I could probably write a post just on all my favorite Keith Urban songs, but I'll save that for another day.
"Heart Like Mine" was from the first record of Keith's that I bought. I remember getting hooked on multiple songs from this record, but as I grew older, I kept gravitating towards this one particular song. I think this was one of the first songs I realized myself listening specifically for the story for in songs that I'd listened to for a long time. One part in particular says:
"'Cause I was just a kid in the corner
Watching words as they turned black and blue.
I'm the son of a son of a headstrong man-
So defensive, so full of foolish pride.
But I just will not lose you, baby."
The person in the story is running away from a good love, then realizes that he's running out of habit, because he saw his father do the same thing. Each chorus builds in a slightly different way but by the end, it's almost like an explosive realization.
"We Were" is Keith Urban's latest release (released May 13, 2019). The cool thing? Eric Church helped write it! This song, written about missing the good times with an ex, is written in an abnormal way. Most "longing" songs are written the same, but to me, this one has a different feel to it. The last lines of the chorus say:
"At least there's a little bit of sweet in the bitter
Though a part of me is always gonna miss her.
I am who I am, I just miss who I was when we were."
That part of the song just GETS ME, y'all. I love it. The thing I love so much about this song though is the contrast between the "sweet" & the "bitter" & the story in between it all. Genius.
"All Too Well" by Taylor Swift Writers: Taylor Swift, Liz Rose
This song is the one I go back to the most when I'm stuck on my own songwriting. This song is the ultimate "honest" to me. It came out when I was in middle school & I've found myself relating to this song in different ways as I've gotten older. I have many favorite parts to this song, but two of my favorite lines are "Time won't fly, it's like I'm paralyzed by it. I'd like to be my old self again, but I'm still trying to find it." it embodies the song's mood in two simple lines. It shows the "in-between" of trying to move on & being moved on from a past relationship all at once. This song is like a scrapbook for a relationship, right before you pack it away in a memory box.
(Side note: Liz Rose helped write this one. When I met her last year after one of her shows, I told her how much this song had helped my writing. She held both of my hands as I told her this & said she loved hearing that. After that happened, I think my little songwriter heart died a little inside. It was Nashville magic, y'all.)
"Poison & Wine" by The Civil Wars Writers: Chris Lindsey, John Paul White, Joy Williams
This song is special because the entire song contradicts from one line to the next. The first two lines of the song say, "You only know what I want you to. I know everything you don't want me to" & right off the bat, it has the two sides of the relationship at different mindsets. However, later in the song, they say, "I don't have a choice, but I'd still choose you." No matter how much these two people differ in opinions or mindsets with their relationship, after it all, they'd still choose each other. It's a maze of a song, but that's why I love it so much; sometimes, the confusion in the song makes it go from good to great.
"How Do I Get Close" by Nick Wayne Writers: Nick Wayne, Josh Kerr, Hannah Ellis
NICK. WAYNE. Y'all. I am such a FAN. Nick's writing & music has been some of my favorite for the past couple of years. It has such a smooth & expressive tone to it. This song, "How Do I Get Close," is mine & my best friend's favorite song. Even in the first verse alone, the story that's told is so unique. "But I'd have a better chance of seeing you if I were in his shoes. I never wanted to be a gas station clerk 'till now." I never would have thought to put wanting to be a gas station clerk in a song until Nick did it. He has a way of making lyrics weave together in such a creative way. I picked my first favorite song of his to share on here, but there's lots of others. Please go check his entire catalogue out (& then message me later to tell me what your favorite is!).
"LA Is Lonely" by Ricky Manning Writers: Patrick Anthony Manning
To every person who moved away from home to follow their dreams: LISTEN TO THIS SONG. It's so honest. The line that hit me first in the song was "Everyones watching and they hope I can be someone they say they know." Anyone who moved to "make it big" & become any sort of creative, music or otherwise, you understand this. There's constant farewells of "Can't wait until you're big so I can say, 'Hey, I knew her when...!'" Sometimes, the pressure can get to you. Ricky takes all those feelings that everyone has bottled up revolving around "making it big" & wrote them into this little song present for us. Sometimes, it's good for that bottle to overflow. I'm glad his did so he could write this.
So there you have it- part two 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 three!