Subject Material

Song Lyrics

Published: 05.05.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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Do you have a favourite song? Do you like it mainly for the rhythm and music or for the lyrics? We often sing along to a song without always knowing exactly what it is about, but the lyrics often carry a strong message. Song texts may also play an important role in creating awareness about  important issues.

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We know many English songs . . . . or at least we think  we do, but how well do we know the lyrics? Do you sing “there's a bathroom on the right” instead of “there’s a bad moon on the rise” - which is the original text? Try to fix  the lyrics in the task below then answer the questions regarding the song lyrics.

Click to recreate three famous verses. I'm sure you've heard at least two out of three.

Tasks

Below you will find the key to the task. Study the texts  and continue with the tasks further below.

Key

(Changes - Tupac Shakur)
Come on come on
I see no changes. Wake up in the morning and I ask myself,
"Is life worth living? Should I blast myself?"
I'm tired of bein' poor and even worse I'm black.
My stomach hurts, so I'm lookin' for a purse to snatch.

(Hotel California -The Eagles)
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night

(We are the Champions - Queen)
I've paid my dues,
time after time,
I've done my sentence,
but committed no crime.
And bad mistakes,
I've made a few,
I've had my share of sand kicked in my
face, but I've come through.

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Comprehension

  1. Sum up in a few words what is happening in each of the three verses.
  2. How would you describe the moods in the verses?
  3. Look carefully at the words in the verses. Are they descriptive, hard hitting, beautiful, sad, cold, emotional. . .? Use your own words to describe them.
  4. What associations does each of these verses give you?
  5. How would you describe the rhythm in the three verses? Do they vary a lot? Why?
  6. One of the songs is victorious though it deals with injustice - which is it?  Does the melody suit the contents of this song? Try to explain.
  7. One of the songs could be seen as an excuse for crime. Do you think that is the writer's intention? If not what else could his intention be?
  8. One of these songs is pretty mystical. From which period is this text? Do you think this was typical of the era? Do you know of other mystical songs?
  9. Sing the three verses aloud.

Research

  1. Find out more about the songs in this task: Songfacts.  Not all of what you read here is necessarily true.
  2. Do research on and present a favorite text of your own. Why do you like this particular text?
  3. What happened to the writer of 'Changes' - Tupac Shakur?
  4. Who wrote the lyrics and when were the songs originally released?
  5. A mondegreen is the mishearing of a line in a song or a poem. Study the phenomenon here and see if you can find any of your favorite songs: Mondegreen - definition and examples 

Discuss

  1. Song texts may play an important role in creating awareness on important issues. Find songs that deal with issues such as war, peace, environment, greed, etc. Do you agree that songs may play an important role in creating social awareness?
  2. Some suggest that rock must not get too serious and political or else the wild and rebellious glamour of rock will disappear. Do you agree?
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