Skip to main content

Lyrics, Lyrics, Lyrics! Ten Examples of Songwriting Genius!

I like music.

I like music and lyrics.

I like music and lyrics that make me go wow-wee!

I like music and lyrics that make me go wow-wee and cor blimey!

I like music and lyrics that make me go wow-wee and cor blimey and here are ten examples that do just that.

1.   Best Kept Secret - Laura Veirs

I never fail to be touched by these lyrics.  You can tell in Veirs' voice that it's real and beautifully, beautifully true.

December, I was lost in a darkness I couldn't shake, 
Called you in California and you answered right away, 
You answered right away, 
You picked up right away. 

2.  Boyfriend - Marika Hackman 

A line that's perfectly delivered.  Sound and meaning in perfect synchronicity.  

You came to me for entropy and I gave you all I had. 

3.  K. - Cigarettes After Sex

A modern-day love song.  I'm always drawn to narratives in music and I love listening to a song with a strong sense of place.  This one ticks both of those boxes.  It also sounds beautiful.  

I remember when I first noticed that you liked me back, 
We were sitting down in the restaurant waiting for the check, 
We had made love earlier that day with no strings attached, 
But I could tell that something had changed how you looked at me then.  

4.  Your Young Voice - King Creosote 

King Creosote's ethereal voice and the repetition of a small but significant admission is one to be cherished. 

It's your young voice that's keeping me holding on, 
To my dull life, 
To my dull life. 

5.  Don't Let the Kids Win - Julia Jacklin 

There's a lot to love on this album, but I plucked this line out as a favourite.  Real heart-in-mouth stuff, especially the line about walking your sister down the isle.  And I haven't even got a sister! 

And don't let the time go by 
without sitting your mother down 
and asking what life was like for her 
before you came to be around 

6.  Baby Birch - Joanna Newsom 

I first heard Newsom sing this live at Somerset House in 2008 and it's made it's way steadily up the list of my favourite Joanna Newsom songs ever since.  No one in music can write lyrics as poetic as she can.  It puts the majority of poets to shame.  A songwriter in a class of her own. And seeing this performance of it is a great privilege of this age.   

There is a blacksmith and there is a shepherd and there is a butcher boy,
and there is a barber who's cutting and cutting away at my only joy.
I saw a rabbit as slick as a knife and as pale as a candlestick, 
and I thought it'd be harder to do, but I caught her and skinned her quick. 
Held her there, kicking and mewling, upended unspooling, unsung and blue -
told her wherever you go, little runaway bunny, I will find you.
And then she ran, as they're liable to do.  

7.  Horizon - Aldous Harding 

There's just something about the way Harding sings this one line.  It's more like a possession than a performance.  And I can't work out whether Harding is the demon possessing the song or whether the song is the demon possessing her. 

Here is your princess, here is the horizon.  
Here is your princess, here is the horizon.

8.  Sleepwalker - Julie Byrne

When this first came on the radio, I was convinced by the end of the guitar intro that this was a Laura Marling song.  The guitar picking is exceptional and really evocative of that Marling style.   Then another voice began "I lived my life alone before you" and I was sold instantly.  There's a confidence about that Leonard Cohen-esque first line that made me fall in love within forty seconds.  And the album cover may be the most beautiful I've ever seen.  

I lived my life alone before you,
and with those I'd never succeeded to love, 
and I grew so accustomed to that kind of solitude.
I fought you - I did not know how to give it up.  

9.  Night After Night - Laura Marling

I couldn't leave Laura out.  I've been listening to this young woman for a very long time.  The new album is a slight return to form so I was going to add some lyrics from 'Nothing, Not Nearly'.  But I frequently go back to her first three albums, which are packed with modern classics.  So here are some lyrics from 'What He Wrote' from the 2010 album 'I Speak Because I Can'.  Few lyrics run as deeply as these do. So good in fact that I was left open-mouthed by the sheer quality of this song when I rediscovered it last year.  To my mind she's the most talented British singer-songwriter of her generation.  

Begged him to stay in my cold wooden grip.
Begged him to stay by the light of this ship.
Me fighting him, fighting like fighting dawn, 
and the waves came and stole him and took him to war.  

10.  Rotterdam by The Beautiful South 

And finally a fun one: 

The whole place is pickled, 
The people are pickles for sure, 
And no one knows if they've done more here
Than they would ever do in a jar.  


Popular posts from this blog

An Expert Analysis of Michael Fassbender's Running Style From the Film 'Shame'

Tom Wiggins: What are your first impressions of Michael Fassbender/Brandon's running style? Paul Whittaker: He's running nice, smooth and relaxed. He seems like he has a good amount of fitness and he is running well within himself in terms of pace.   TW: What improvements could he make to his running style? PW: The main improvement I'd make is his foot plant.  He lands heel first and this causes a 'breaking' effect when travelling forwards.  If he landed on his mid-foot/forefoot, this would be a much better for impact stress and propulsion going forward into the next running stride. TW: Regarding his speed, how many minutes per mile is he running? PW: I would say he is running approx 7-7.30 minutes per mile. TW:  What do you make of his stride lengths?  Is he overstriding/understriding? PW: The actor is definitely overstriding in this clip.  It would help if his feet landed underneath and below his centre of gravity. TW: What's his posture like? PW: A slight forward le…

A Scene From "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia' by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Roughly halfway through Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia', after a long night in search of a body through remote Turkish hillsides, a weary parade of officials and the accused stop for sustenance.  Tiredness and confusion has muddled the mind of the suspect over the whereabouts of the body.  The search party, consisting of a police commissioner, doctor, prosecutor and driver, are all past the point of tiredness.  They've all written the night off and have resigned themselves to the fact that they're unlikely to return to town with either a confession or the missing body.  In the early hours of the morning, the  three-car parade stop for a break in a village and gather in the darkness of the local mayor's home.  All the men are physically and emotionally spent.  Even in the darkness, the stresses and strains of their working and personal lives are discernable through the shadows thrown on each of their faces.  Cracks are showing that may never g…

The Babalú Coffee House & Graffiti in Central Reykjavik

A month or two after getting back from last year's trip to Iceland, I noticed on my analytics page that my blog had attracted a massive seven visitors who were based in Iceland. 'That's strange.' I thought. 'I haven't even mentioned, let alone blogged about Iceland yet. Why am I attracting visitors?' It was at this point that I recalled scrawling my blog address on the wall of a Reykjavik coffee shop. Don't worry, readers: it was perfectly legal.

Any UK-based coffee house would have shown me the door as I graffitied this here url across their wall, but this was the Babalú Coffee House.  And you soon realise upon arriving in Iceland that it has the highest concentration of cool, calm and creative types than just about anywhere else in the world.  Iceland is like the coolest place you've ever visited...just better.  It's so hip that it could bring that very word back into fashion.  
Situated on the Skólavördustigur road and roughly between Ha…