For the second installment of my songwriting series, I want to discuss “what makes songs significant? ” Most of us would agree that a song has real value, but it is often hard to articulate what that value is. I believe songs affect our lives in many unique ways. Because of that, crafting songs is a task that should be untaken with excellence. In this post, I will examine three things that songs do. I hope that this exploration creates in you not only a deeper appreciation for songwriting but also the desire to do it to the best of your ability as well.
- Songs Capture Life’s Defining Moments & Create The Soundtrack By Which We Interpret Our Experiences.
All of us can look back on our lives and find defining moments. Moments that stand out for good or bad reasons. There are breakups we didn’t know if we would survive, tragedies that shattered our souls, moments of transcendence, and days we wish we could relive constantly. The highs, the lows, the fleeting moments or extraordinary, the mundane routines of life, and the moments where the lines between them blur. Life is full of memories.
Every relationship I’ve been in has a soundtrack. There’s the song for when I see her for the first time, for when we fell in love, and when we’ve broken up. Just as every girl is unique every playlist in unique.
Seasons of transition have soundtracks too. Right before I first moved to Nashville, I listened to “Last Time For Everything” by Brad Paisley constantly. As I wrapped up my time in Atlanta, I was aware that the season of life was ending.
Our best memories have soundtracks as well. I think back to my fraternity days in Birmingham. My pledge trainer had a burnt CD in his F-150 that he didn’t swap out for several years(it may still be in there). Every time I got to hang out with him, and the older brothers “Hell Raisin’ Heat of the Summer,” by Florida Georgia Line was on.
So songs are significant because they encapsulate moments. They help us contextualize and recall the times in our lives that we need to reflect on the most. We best honor those moments, by crafting good songs. A well-written song will help recall the feeling that those moments held.
- Songs Help Us Tell Our Stories And Help Others Find Their Own Stories In Our Music
The best songs touch on universal themes and shared experiences. The details, the place, the setting, the imagery. They make the song personal. Many people think that the best songs capture their own experiences accurately. What I believe is more meaningful is crafting a song that others can find their own stories in. Ultimately, all of our stories matter equally. One of my goals is not only to tell my story well, but rather to tell our stories well. The best songs are based on a million true stories, not just one.
We all need to understand how significant moments in our lives are. To hear those moments set to music is powerful. Songs help us remember moments that we want to relive. Songs help us rediscover lost feeling. They take us back to the experiences we wish we could relive, and in a small way, they help us to do so. To quote Brad Paisley, “this is your life in a song.” The best songs are the stories we all share.
- We Not Only Write Our Songs, But Our Songs Also Write Us.
Songs shape our lives. As much as art imitates life, life also imitates art. Thomas Rhett’s song “Learned It From The Radio,” expresses this concept brilliantly. There have been so many moments when songs have helped me get through difficult moments or shaped seasons of my life.
When I first moved to Nashville, I was paralyzed by fear of stepping into a new industry where it seemed like everyone knew each other except for me. Listening to “One Day You Will” by Lady Antebellum got me through those first few weeks of fright. Those words echoed hope into my life. Having spent almost a year in Nashville now, that song proved to be true.
As we listen to songs and as we write them, we need to remember what we listen to is profoundly shaping our lives. It’s part of why I love Country music. I believe we have the best songs. I hope that we will always consume and create songs worth shaping our lives.
I hope this has got you thinking about songs, their value, and the role they play in our lives. It is something I consider and wrestle with constantly. I would love to know how you view songs, and what you would add to or remove from this list. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.