Don’t you hate song lyrics that seem like they say something, but they don’t really? As an English teacher, I find it incredibly difficult to convince teenagers that writing well matters. One of the horrible habits I’ve made it my mission to combat is intentional wordiness. Kids will add all sorts of crap to their essays just to make them longer. They don’t care about making sense; they just know they need to fill space on the page, so they fill it… just as their favorite song writers do. They come up with lyrics that don’t make sense or don’t convey the intended meaning.
Example: “I need you like a heart needs a beat.”
I don’t have any clue who does the song with those lyrics or what the song is called. Let’s google.Okay, so the song is called “Apologize” and the artist is One Republic.
I don’t think a heart technically needs a beat. Maybe I don’t get the analogy, but I’m not sure I want a guy needing me like a heart needs a beat. I don’t think that’s flattering, and I’m not sure it means anything.
Example 2: “You were Romeo; I was a scarlet letter.”
This one is from one of those Taylor Swift songs, and I think this particular one is called “Love Song”. And it makes sense that she was like 15 when she wrote this. Most of us understand that the scarlet letter was a big ‘A’ sewn into the clothes of someone caught in adultery. Again, I may be just missing the analogy here, but it doesn’t seem romantic that a man would be Romeo (kills himself) and I would be a big ‘A’ sewn into someone’s clothes, and that somehow equals love.
Example 3: “Is it really him or the loss of my innocence, I’ve been missing so much?”
This one is from a song called “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter, and it’s the one that bothers me the most. I think the intent was to write something more like “Do I miss him, or do I actually miss my innocence?” But that’s not what it says. Who misses the loss of their innocence? Nobody. It’s not something people miss.
There are a ton of lyrics out there that make me cranky, but these are the ones I most often encounter. Which lyrics vex you?