As a human being who loves great writing, I am constantly infatuated by the talents and intellect of writers. As a writer myself, sometimes this very same thing can make me just a tad bit jealous. I wish I could write like that, I think to myself, ridden with both emotion and envy while reading a beautiful passage or listening to a clever lyric — neither can be helped. While envy is often associated with negativity, it actually urges me to improve my own writing so that I can somewhat emulate that of those I admire.
Here are four song lyrics that inspire me to become a better writer:
1. “When my time comes around / Lay me gently in the cold dark earth / No grave can hold my body down / I’ll crawl home to her” - “Work Song,” Hozier
What an absolutely jaw-dropping chorus. Every time I hear it, my brain goes: WHAAAT. This writing is absolutely remarkable in that it beautifully demonstrates the immense love the narrator has for the other person. The use of the word “crawl” makes it even more impactful — not run, not walk, but crawl, showing that the narrator will do whatever it takes, no matter how difficult, to get back to “her.” This makes me put my hand on my heart in awe, an effect I wish to have on the people who read my own writing.
2. “You may feel no purpose nor a point for existing / It’s all just conjecture and gloom / And there may not be meaning, so find one and seize it / Do not waste yourself on this roof” - “Achilles Come Down,” Gang of Youths
I wish I could include this entire song here for it is the epitome of art and writing at its finest. These lyrics hit like a blow, the impact so strong that it just about knocks me off my feet. They’re so painfully relatable that my heart swells up when listening to them. The narrator comes down to your level and tells you, “I get what you’re going through. But you have to keep going.” Any combination of words that can achieve the level of comfort that these lyrics––and the song as a whole––radiate is truly special.
3. “Romeo, Juliet / Balcony silhouette / Makin’ o’s with her cigarette / It’s Juliet” - “Flapper Girl,” The Lumineers
I absolutely love the imagery in this verse. Juliet, the typical “perfect” woman, leaning on the railing of her balcony as a flapper, while smoking o’s into the air like the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, is just a beautiful image — it’s the perfect combination of class and rebellion. How this juxtaposed image is set in my brain without any difficulty goes to show just how brilliant this writing is.
4. “When I was a river dried up / You came to rain a flood / You said drink from me, drink from me / When I was so thirsty / Poured on a symphony / Now I just can’t get enough” - “Hymn for the Weekend,” Coldplay
Wow. That is just...wow. I don’t know about you, but these lines make me feel the need to step back and pause to fully appreciate them. Let’s do a bit of close-reading, shall we? The “you” quenches the narrator’s desperation for love, filling him up when he was empty. The command — “drink from me” — goes to show how willing the subject is to give themselves up to aid the other person, even if it means emptying themselves. As far as metaphors go, I don’t think I’ve ever written anything this meaningful or clever.
Talk about talented writers. These are just a few of the many works which I think about when writing — hoping and attempting to achieve half as much eloquence and brilliance. One day, I tell myself. One day.