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Minutes to Memories: Favourite Song Lyrics


For the past few weeks, I’ve been wrapped up in the fourth draft of my work in progress. Sunday night was the deadline for submission to my Novel Writing Course companions and I managed to get it done. Well, almost. There are a few scenes that need reworking, but for the most part, it’s 87,000 words complete.

So rather than talk about that, I thought I’d venture off on a tangent.

One of my main characters is a musician, and as part of the book I had to write some song lyrics, which I honestly enjoyed. There’s no music score, so it’s more poetry really.

I have a thing for song lyrics. They can make or break a song for me. Sure it’s nice to have a great pop classic or techno beat to dance around with, but sometimes you want to sit down and listen, and really feel the song.

The thing I love about lyrics is that they are deeply personal. Firstly for the writer they hold a special, sometimes cryptic meaning and then for the listener, it comes down to how they interpret the lyric, – and each person can interpret it differently.

When I’m in a sombre or reflective mood, I tend to hit my ‘favourite songwriters’ playlist, so I thought I’d pull out a few to share with you. And let me tell you, it was hard to narrow it down! But here’s a handful. I’ve included a snippet of some of the lyrics that really nail it.

I’ll begin with Mr. JC Mellencamp. The best songwriters are story-tellers, and John can weave a beautifully, moving story. It was hard to choose which ones to include!


Check it Out – John Mellencamp

“Where does our time go?
Got a brand new house and an escrow
Sleeping with your back to your loved one,
This’s all we’ve learned about happiness”

I love this as it makes you stop and think about where you are in life. Makes you sit up and think – ‘Am I taking it all for granted?’ ‘What have I done in this life?’  and makes you hope the next generation will appreciate life – “I hope they have a better understanding”

Minutes to Memories – John Mellencamp

‘Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories.
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we had planned.
You are young and you are the future,
So suck it up and tough it out,
And be the best you can.”

This is a story you can imagine your Granddad telling you when you were younger, and it’s only now you understand what he meant.

Who Will Save Your Soul? – Jewel

“Another day, another dollar, another war,
Another tower went up, where the homeless had their homes
So we pray to as many different Gods as there are flowers
But we call religion our friend
We’re so worried about saving our souls
Afraid that God will take His toll
That we forget to begin”

Jewel never shies away from telling it how it is and pointing out the hypocrasy of the world. Makes you think.

Fast Car -Tracy Chapman

“So remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone”

Ah, the soulful tones of Tracy Chapman. When you listen to the lyrics you realise this is such a sad song. The story of someone just wanting to escape and find freedom from the constraints of their life, only to realise that one can’t really ever escape completely.

When We Were Beautiful – Bon Jovi

“Back…When we were beautiful
Before the world got small
Before we knew it all
Back… When we were innocent
I wonder where it went
Let’s go back and find it”

I’m a bit of a nostalgia buff, loving more than thinking back to the days of my childhood. When everything felt so innocent and honest. Don’t you want to go back?

Don’t Damn Me – Guns N’ Roses

“How can I ever satisfy you,
An’ how can I ever make you see.
That, deep inside
We’re all somebody,
An’ it don’t matter who you want to be”

It often surprises people when I tell them I’m a huge Gunners fan. Maybe I don’t fit the mould, but I don’t fit any mould and I’m okay with that. Axl is one of the most underrated songwriters, probably due to his front-man antics. He’s his own worst enemy. But if you want a beautiful, cryptic lyric that you can strip down and analyse, he has written some of the best.


There’s so many more I wish I could include; Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Prince, James Taylor… so many. And sometimes when you actually sit down and really listen to the lyrics of a song, you can realise what you thought was a simple song, can be quite profound.


So tell me, which song lyrics really get you thinking?
Who’s your favourite songwriter?

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