Songwriting Tips

What to Write Song Lyrics About

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It can be really hard to know what to write songs about. Songs can be written about anything but with so many ideas, how do you decide. It’s best to look into yourself and express whatever is on your mind.

You can write songs about your life, friends and family. However, the most common themes to write songs about are usually emotions, especially love. Becoming a great songwriter doesn’t happen overnight. With practice, great songs can come quickly and naturally.

Writing a song can be a very therapeutic experience but it can be hard to know where to begin if you’ve never done it before. If you want to get signed to a record label then you need to write great songs. Writing good song lyrics is easier when there is a meaning or purpose behind the song.  Have a look at some example lyrics below and get ideas.

How do you write a song for beginners?

writing songs for beginners

Putting a pen to paper and coming up with an inspirational song isn’t as difficult as one would first expect, it just takes practice. If you are a beginner and at a loss for ideas, try writing down all the thoughts you have about a certain subject onto a piece of paper. Once you have done this you will be able to see more clearly how you feel about that subject. This will enable you to the structure a song around your initial idea. 

Songwriting doesn’t have to necessarily be from the experiences of the musician themselves. They can write from the perspective of another person, or even group of people. Many artists do this to tell a story or spreading a message such as peace or love.

Songs about certain subjects such as anti-war or anti-racism can have a huge effect on the population of people that listen to them. Songs like this can spread messages of peace and unity whilst having a transformational effect on society.

In order to write a great song, an artist must first choose the message they wish to write about. Brainstorming is usually a good way of doing this. 

What makes a good songwriter?

Good songwriters are dedicated to their craft and will set aside a certain amount of time to deliberately work on their ideas. Songwriting is a form of poetry, and like poetry, the form and structure of songs can vary. 

Freestyling is a great way to get your creativity flowing and is also a great exercise to make up new songs. To do this just pick up a pen and write. Go with the flow of whatever is in your mind and scribble it all down on paper. Great songwriters like Elton John can come up with a song on the spur of the moment and lots of renowned musicians use this form of songwriting.

Another way to be a good songwriter is to write with another person. This creates an interesting combination because you can then help each other come up with new ideas. Sometimes it is also easier to be motivated by another person. Overall you can come up with new ideas neither of you has thought about before.

In order to be a good songwriter, think of your influences and learn from them. Learn your favourite songs off by heart and don’t be afraid to emulate people who inspire you. Think of them when you are writing and add your own twist to the sound or words that you are influenced by. Remember that being inspired is fine but copying others will get you in trouble.

Stuck writing lyrics on your own? Consider a co-writing session:

What should the song message be about? 

Songwriting for beginners

Songs can be written from any perspective and about any subject matter. It is up to the songwriter to write about what they feel is worth speaking about or for sending out a message to their audience. The genre of ‘Blues’ is symbolic of this nature of songwriting. It originated in the deep south of America and came from the Afro-American people wanting their voices to be heard.

Songs can also be written about people, a good example of this is ‘Sweet Caroline’, an exceptionally famous song written by American musician Neil Diamond.

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’d be inclined
To believe they never would”

These lyrics show the deep nature of what the songwriter is going through in his relationship with a woman, Caroline, who is clearly very special to him. It is easy to identify with because of the truthfulness of the words and the heartfelt nature of the subject matter.

Song lyrics about life

When a songwriter chooses to write a song, the subject that they choose to write about can be meaningful in many ways. Artists that choose to express themselves through writing songs about life are very popular. 

‘I will survive’ by Gloria Gaynor is a fantastic example of a strong song written about her perspective on life.

 I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive”

In this example, she is showing with strength and positivity that no matter what bad things may have happened, nothing will bring her down. If you choose to write a song about life then try and make it as accessible to people as possible. Use simple language that many will understand and get your point across in a positive and lively manner. Choose your vocabulary wisely and go for it! 

For inspiration think about reading poetry like that of Shakespeare, who is one of the most renowned poets in the world. You could try researching more contemporary poets too. Try and clearly portray with words how you feel life is, what you wish to get from life and how you see your life being lived.

If you’re looking for how to write a good chorus, check out this article:

Songs about friends

One of the easiest subject matters to write about is friendship. Everybody has friends who they can count on and nothing says thank you for being there for me more than a song. Friends stay with us through thick and thin, they are like a second family to us and are generally the people we trust the most in our lives.

Friends help us with our problems, can answer our questions and help us when we are feeling low. They can give us advice and generally be there for us so what better way to cement a friendship than to write a song about your bestie.

The theme tune of the television show ‘Friends’ written by the Rembrandts in 1995 is an example of such a song. Its lyrics are simplistic and yet truthful.

I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I’ll be there for you
(Like I’ve been there before)
I’ll be there for you
(‘Cause you’re there for me too)

It is a simple message of friendship which so many people can identify with. Friends can be the most valuable tools in one’s life and if you are stuck for a subject to write about then friendship is a great place to start.

Songs about family

As with all songwriting, it has to come from the heart. Writing about family in music is quite a popular subject matter because they are usually the people we are closest to. These songs bring happiness, joy and warmth to the listener as we can appreciate the feelings behind the message.

Family members nurture us throughout our lives and can provide many avenues for inspiration as they are the ones who know us best. There is a sense of unity and pride in family life and knowing and understanding that you are part of a family unit creates feelings of love and belonging. This is why it is a good subject matter for songwriters to tackle. 

Songs written about family are also a good way of connecting with the listener. They show your fans who you care about the most and are a great way of showing appreciation for loved ones. This song by Sister Sledge has poignant lyrics that spans generations of people, the song is upbeat and easy to listen to. 

“ We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family “

The lyrics are arguably the most important part of a song. Therefore, it is good to come up with words that speak of a purpose or a message, along with a strong hook in your chorus. The hook is important as it is mainly what people remember when they first hear a song. Once you have the basic structure of the song, another important part of the process is asking for feedback. See how your friends and family react to the song and don’t be afraid to try it out at a gig for the first time. 

If you’re looking for how to get starting writing lyrics, check out this article:

Songs about emotions 

things to write songs about

It is important to remember that in songwriting there is no right or wrong answer, it is simply a form of expression. Linda Perry, one of the worlds most renowned songwriters and former member of “4 non-blondes” says, 

I don’t have problems writing a song ever, because I am always in my emotions.”

So if you are a musician wondering what to write a song about then your emotions will show you the way forward. Don’t try too hard to get words onto the paper at first, let them flow naturally. A tip used by many musicians is to have a notepad next to the bed. When you wake up you can immediately write down any thoughts or dreams that you were having while you were asleep. 

This is an excellent place to start and once you have decided which emotion you would like to portray in a song then you can really get stuck into describing the sensations that you feel. Use a thesaurus and think about the power and nature of the words that you are using to describe a particular emotion. 

Songs about love

For artists, many find that the easiest way to someone’s heart is to write a song about them. It is the oldest trick in the book and musicians, artists and poets alike have been doing it for centuries. Love songs always strike a chord because being in love is such a huge part of life. 

Love songs can span all genres from rock to country and even heavy metal. An example of a more traditional type of love song is ‘Love me for a reason’ by Boyzone.

Don’t love me for fun, girl
Let me be the one, girl
Love me for a reason
Let the reason be love”

Love songs speak from the heart, they are raw and meaningful. To write a really good love song a musician must get in touch with their innermost feelings. This can be difficult to do at first so try exercises such as meditation to clear your mind and feel your emotions. Once you can tap into those feelings of love then you could come up with some really good lyrics.

As love is such a strong emotion, a well-written love song can really resonate with an audience. It is an excellent way of speaking with your audience about what you are going through as a person. People will respond to this and it will give you the confidence to continue writing and playing music. 

If you’re still struggling then you could try this love song generator. It won’t be as sincere but you might get some entertaining results.

What do you write song lyrics about? Share your favourite lyrics in the comments below.