Musicians and songwriters, are you having difficulty coming up with ideas for songs? Is the well of creativity in the musical chamber of your brain running dry?
You probably aren’t tapping into the best sources of songwriting inspiration: your life and your passions. Musical inspiration often comes in unexpected places, but working with real life topics—such as love and heartbreak or the mundane details of everyday existence—can help you develop your own style. And zombies, but more of that later.
Whether it’s relationships, politics or life in general, these ideas will help get your creative juices flowing.
Love & relationships
Love and relationships are classic themes but there are some universal truths about love and relationships – some people find them, some people lose them, and some people just end up with cats. This is good material for songwriters.
From awkward first dates to the sweetest moments shared between partners, love is a journey worth exploring. Whether it’s the feeling of a warm embrace or the thrill of a spontaneous adventure, love has a way of inspiring music creators to greater heights.
Of course, relationships aren’t the only kind of love worth celebrating in a song. Writing about the importance of self-love and self-care can be just as powerful, whether it’s about learning to love your own company, finding joy in your own hobbies and interests, or simply recognizing your own worth and value.
Remember that a relationship isn’t just about the good times. The challenges, arguments, and difficult moments are all part of what makes a relationship strong, and learning to navigate these moments together can bring a couple closer together. And this all makes for great song content.
Since songs were invented, love has been one of the main topics (if not the top subject) for hit songs.
Here are 5 popular songs on the theme of love and relationships:
- “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
- “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
- “Someone Like You” by Adele
- “Love Story” by Taylor Swift
- “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
And three lesser-known, but still wonderful tracks that are sure to give you ideas and inspirations. You can also get some songwriting tips from the first two and admire the phenomenal music production skills on the latter (I know I do, every time)
- “Between Me and You” by Brandon Flowers – This emotional piano ballad is about the ups and downs of a relationship, and the struggles that come with loving someone deeply.
- “The Last Time” by Gnarls Barkley – This song is a soulful and melancholic ballad with a haunting melody and heartfelt lyrics about the pain of lost love.
- “This Love” by Maroon 5 – While not exactly an underground or unknown track, this early Maroon 5 hit is often overlooked in their discography. It’s a funky, upbeat track with a catchy chorus and relatable lyrics about the ups and downs of a relationship.
Have you ever considered what it would be like to live forever? I know I have! It could be terrifying, but on the bright side, you’d have endless time to experience everything that life has to offer. We’ve all heard of the Fountain of Youth and maybe even had the chance to try it, but what would life be like if we could actually live forever? On one hand, you’d never have to worry about running out of time, but on the other hand, you’d never get to experience the joy of growing old with someone. This is perfect song material.
Remember Oasis’ “Live Forever”? They did pretty well with that one. Or Queen’s “Who wants to live forever?” (One of my favorite sad songs of all time)
Here’s an example to work with:
Verse: Have you ever thought about living forever? It sounds exciting, but could be scary, I know. But imagine all the time you’d have to discover the wonders of life, and watch the world grow.
Chorus: The Fountain of Youth, we’ve all heard of it, but what if it could truly make us immortal? Endless time to explore, but love might not fit Would we trade our mortality for an endless portal?
Writing songs about your car is an opportunity to celebrate the freedom and mobility that come with having your own set of wheels. You could write about the adventures you’ve had in your car, like road trips or long drives through scenic landscapes. You might also explore the sense of independence and self-expression that comes with choosing your own vehicle.
You could even write about the challenges of car ownership, like the cost of maintenance or the environmental impact of driving. Writing a song about your car can be a fun and lighthearted way to celebrate the joys of the open road.
Here are 5 songs about cars for inspiration:
- “Little Deuce Coupe” by The Beach Boys
- “Drive My Car” by The Beatles
- “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett
- “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman
- “Radar Love” by Golden Earring
Consider the qualities of your guitar. What is unique about its sound, its appearance, or the way it feels to play? These elements can provide inspiration for the lyrics and melody of your song.
My guitar is my best friend. Whenever I feel down, I start strumming away on it, and it never fails to lift my spirits. It could be playing a rousing tune or just tinkering around with chords; either way, it brightens up my day in an instant!
Slightly cheesy lyrics to follow. The point is, start somewhere and improve. That’s how all the great song writers did it. Nobody committed perfect lyrics to paper on first try:
- The chords and notes, they bind us together
- The strings come alive, an aural tether
- It’s my faithful friend, no matter the weather
- My guitar and I, forever and ever
Substitute guitar for piano, saxophone, or whatever instrument you use to make your own unique sound.
Writing a song about the beauty of nature can take many forms. It can be an exploration of the power of the environment, a celebration of the wonders of the natural world, or a reflection on the healing power of being in nature.
Think about the power and awe of a thunderstorm, or the delicate beauty of a butterfly’s wings. Consider the delicate balance of life in an, vastness of the night sky. Put yourself in the shoes of an animal, or take a journey deep into the oceans to explore the unknown. Utilize rhyme schemes, metaphors, and wordplay to craft interesting and unique lyrics. And don’t be afraid to experiment and explore different musical styles—you never know what unique sound you might discover!
“Woods” by Bon Iver is simply magical. The song transports you to a lush forest – where the summer heat is replaced by a misty air and the trees around you seem almost ancient. Every note is like a gust of wind, every guitar strum is reminiscent of a distant bird call. Even without lyrics, this piece evokes an aura of wonder and mysticism. But couple that with Justin Vernon’s haunting voice, and we have something truly spectacular – a mesmeric meditation on our connection to nature. It’s no surprise that this spellbinding track has become one of the most acclaimed songs in Bon Iver’s discography. So put on your hiking boots, close your eyes, and let yourself be taken away into the ‘Woods’!
“The wind” by Cat Stevens, is a lyrical exploration of the natural world. The song begins with the narrator gazing at the sea and feeling overwhelmed by its vastness; he muses that there must be something more to it than what we can see. He goes on to describe watching birds fly overhead as they seem to move in perfect unison, like one creature rather than many individuals.
Whenever I hear this song, it reminds me that no matter how tough life gets, there’s always something to learn from a gust of wind. It’s a song that reminds me to always keep my eyes open and my mind free.
It’s no wonder why this classic folk song stands the test of time—its stirring lyrics are a reminder that sometimes all you need is some fresh air and nature’s magic. The song is also a great example of why so many people are drawn to folk music—it’s easy to listen to, and not too complicated. While you might be able to understand the words in this song, they don’t have much meaning on their own. It takes some thought and reflection before you can find yourself in this song.
This could be one avenue of songwriting style you hadn’t considered.
Zombies and Aliens
Here’s something a little left of field. Strange and weird topics like aliens or monsters, or even a zombie apocalypse can actually be good song lyrics. Don’t shy away from them. Instead, look at them from a different angle, and you’ll find an exciting new theme for your next song. Just keep them subtle or even metaphorical.
Radiohead’s Subterranean Homesick Alien is a great example of an off-kilter song that uses strange lyrics to create an interesting and unique sound. Music fans rate this track as one of the best in Rock / Pop so that should be all the validation you need.
Just in case you didn’t think it was possible: 5 original songs about zombies:
- “Zombie” by The Cranberries
- “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
- “Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie
- “Zombie Dance” by The Cramps
- “Zombie Stomp” by Ozzy Osbourne
Social issues may not sound like a cheerful topic, but if you look at them from a more positive perspective, you’ll find hope and inspiration.
Social issues make for great hit songs because they are relatable and can inspire change. Musicians like Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, and Marvin Gaye have used their platforms to shed light on issues such as civil rights, poverty, and war. Their music has not only been commercially successful but has also helped to spread awareness and ignite social change. A song has the power to reach millions and deliver a message that can stay with someone for a lifetime. It is no wonder that social issues continue to inspire hit songs and touch the hearts of listeners around the world.
Two examples of musicians who took the whole “social issues in songwriting” thing to the next level:
- Bob Dylan is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians when it comes to writing songs that address social issues. During the 1960s, he emerged as a prominent voice in the Civil Rights Movement, penning timeless classics like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin'”. Dylan’s music also tackled other pressing issues of his time, such as war and poverty, in songs like “Masters of War” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. With his heartfelt lyrics and powerful performances, Dylan’s music became a powerful tool for spreading awareness and advocating for change.
- Marvin Gaye: Marvin Gaye was an R&B and soul musician who wrote about social issues, particularly in his album “What’s Going On”. The album, released in 1971, focused on the social and political issues of the time, including the Vietnam War, poverty, and police brutality. Songs like “What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” were particularly powerful in their messages of love, compassion, and unity.
Need more ideas?
Here’s a thought: try some of the very popular and fast-growing AI content writing and copywriting tools for inspiration.
Copy.ai is one of the best tools to help musicians with creativity, inspiration, topic generation, and more. Just ask it to give you topics based on, say, the style of Bruce Springsteen, or the top 10 hits in the Irish charts. Maybe ask for song title ideas based on successful songs from the 80s. Use AI tools to generate lyrical ideas or lyrical hooks. The only limit is your imagination.
In the end, you have to do the hard work, but these tools can be great for suggesting ideas based on writing prompts in simple language. Use these tools to fire that creative spark and maybe even build a song structure. The most important thing is to add your own personality. Have fun!