Remember that song that seemed to echo exactly what you were feeling? The one that hit you unexpectedly and left you sobbing in your car on the way to work for no good reason? What I’ve come to realize is that the reason some of these songs hit us so hard is because of how raw the writing is, how honest the songwriter was and how much of themselves they’ve laid bare for everyone to see.
Many people don’t realize how personal song writing can be. Now I’m not saying that all songs are personal but the majority of song writers and singers have at least one song that, though vague at times, is very honest and raw. Some of the best songs are these types of songs, mainly because the sheer amount of emotion that goes into them seems to elevate them to another level. People will respond to this authenticity more than they would an act, a song written merely for the sake of writing.
So I’m going to do my top 5 most transparent songs, in no particular order, and throw in a few of my own lyrics, for the sake of being transparent with all of you.
- Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know
Arguably one of the most famous break-up songs, this particular song was heavy on the anger and bitterness that comes along with the demise of a relationship. Serving up zingers like “Would she go down on you in a theatre” and “Every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it” it’s easy to see why this song is one of my top 5. The raw pain isn’t pretty in this song but it sure makes for an entertaining listen and you will want to sing along at the top of your lungs, bringing up the memory of your exes.
- The Civil Wars – The One That Got Away
The song that sparked a ton of rumors about the band’s hiatus and eventual split, this song is heavy on innuendo and allusions that caused many to think that it was an affair that split the band up. With both of the singers being married to other people, it’s fair to say that this song had fans up in arms, their on stage chemistry and the statement that this album was “autobiographical” didn’t help matters. Joy starts the song out with a mournful and regretful sound, crooning “I wish you were the one that got away” and John brings more anger to the second half of the song with “Begging for the slightest touch, ooh you couldn’t get enough”, making it clear that both parties were to blame.
- Death Cab For Cutie – Black Sun
This song was actually written about the lead singer’s divorce, heavily alluding to his relationship with actress Zooey Deschanel. The song quietly seems to seethe with resentment and the fact that it’s about the end of a marriage makes it all the more poignant. His words paint pictures of something beautiful dying and it comes forward in the chorus, where he asks “How could something so fair be so cruel, when this black sun revolved around you?”
- Beyoncé – Pray You Catch Me
This song marked the start of the album that seemed to break the internet not too long ago, due to the first half of Lemonade seeming to allude to Jay-Z having cheated on Beyoncé. This album also felt like some of the realest emotion we’ve seen from her in recent years, the fact that the album had a continuous narrative was also a very immersive experience. In this song Beyoncé sings about hoping her man will catch her watching and listening, so that he can come clean, because she can’t deal with trying to stay in denial while also torturing herself with the unknown. Lyrics like “You can taste the dishonesty, it’s all over your breath” and “My lonely ear, pressed against the walls of your world” paint a pretty damning picture.
- Lily Allen – Something’s Not Right
This song was used on the Pan soundtrack and what initially sounds like a pretty, but slightly sad song becomes almost devastating when you find out that Lily wrote it about her own experience with the stillbirth of her baby. This song and her story left me sobbing, so it’s no surprise that I used it as inspiration for one of the saddest scenes in my manuscript. The line that affected me the most was “They kept telling me that it was unlikely, all I had to do was keep you beside me”
Bonus: Some of the more transparent lines from my own songs
“I’ll give you what you want and pretend I’m happy, after all I can’t make you want more”
“I can’t bear to lose you, so I can’t risk telling you the truth.”
“I can’t get over the irony, guess that everything you wished for just didn’t apply to me”
“Dust and tears, I bleed, cause I can’t make you want me. My pride won’t let me say that I’m lost, cause I never took the time to consider the cost.”
“You have done me in, really gotten under my skin, it’s no wonder I fight, only my darkest dreams survive the night”
“I don’t know who to be anymore, cause there’s always something better knocking on your door”
“I’m done, done with trying so hard, when I’m never the one that you choose. I can’t keep on playing this game, cause I always seem to lose.”
“I was here through all your stuff, every time that things got rough, and the sad part is that I’m still not good enough for you.”
“You’re never there when I cry, and this is just a one-sided lie. ”
“See I was walking down the straight and narrow, but you keep turning me ’round, leading my off around dark corners, yeah this is shaky ground.”
“Ooh don’t want to say too much, but you make the world stop, and I fall in love”
“We made mistakes and yeah I lied. We both fell victim to our pride. You don’t what it takes to watch you walk away”
“Missing you comes in waves. Tonight I’m drowning.”