Songwriting Through Grief

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The dictionary definition of grief is - noun – deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. Grief is without a doubt one of the hardest emotions to deal with. It’s also the inspiration of countless songs. Why? Because when we lose someone that we love, their loving ways go away with them. We can’t physically feel it anymore and it hurts. That’s why songs about grief and grieving are so emotional and memorable. From my experience they are written from the heart… and the heart doesn’t lie. What makes a song about grief is trying to convey the sad longing to be with the person again. Also, using words that express how much you miss them and why. Grief is a heavy emotion and finding the right lyrical content can be difficult. You really have to pay attention to what’s inside and ask yourself some questions that may seem uncomfortable at first. The good news is songs about grief act in the same way that songs about other emotions do… they can help connect us together as humans. If the song lyrics are generic enough (about the grief they are feeling as well) it has the capacity to help others heal.

Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day

This famous song is on the groups hit album “American Idiot” from 2004. The song was written by Bille Joe Armstrong, the group’s front man. It’s about his father’s death due to cancer.

Let’s check out a few lines of a verse:

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends
Like my father’s come to pass
Seven years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends

Let’s look at the chorus:

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are
As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

As you can read from the lyrics, they are heartbreaking. The verse talks about how time is moving on and it seems like nothing lasts. He talks about his father passing and how it’s been 7 years since his death. “Wake Me Up Before September Ends” is a metaphor for the lead singer saying - let me sleep through this pain, even if it takes a full month… just let me sleep, I want to forget about it. The chorus is also about trying to explain his overwhelming grief. He likens his grief filled emotions with rain falling and being drenched in pain. But that even though time will pass he’ll never forget his father. Then again - wake me up when it’s over, so I don’t have to feel this pain… this grief.

Let’s go over one of the songs composed from the lyrics of one of our clients who wrote lyrics about their grief filled struggle.

Momma Please Stay – Linda K. and YourSongmaker

Click here to read the full lyrics and listen to Momma Please Stay

Let’s look at some of the verse:

She gave a weak smile and winced in pain
Looked outdoors and said hope it won’t rain
I was late and started to rush
I can’t miss another school bus
I’ll keep my promise and study hard
Get high marks on my report card
You’ll see that I can go far...
I can go far

Let’s look at the chorus:

Momma please can’t you stay
Here with me another day
So I can prove what you say
You have taken me the right way

In the example verse, the lyricist tells of her mother being in pain (from the standpoint of a little girl) and how her mother was trying to change the subject of her illness by looking out the window and talking about the weather. The lyrics continue in a way where it seems the little girl had been staying with her dying mother so much that she missed her school bus a time or two. She said as she was trying to catch the bus, “I will do good on my report card Mom! You’ll see! I will do this for you to be proud of me even though you may not be here much longer!” It’s very sad. The chorus is grief filled because the little girl is begging her mother not to die. She says “please, can’t you stay, here with me another day?” She’s telling her she raised her to be good and she will prove that to her if she stays.

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