Some songs just sound nice, and that is fine. But some songs inspire imagination with their sound and lyrics, taking the listener on a fascinating journey.
I love finding new songs that take me on a journey inspired by their imagery, and my goal in writing music is to inspire the imagination of others, taking them to beautiful “imagination-land” places.
In this post, let’s go over a few songs with imagery that inspire us to imagine different worlds.
Songs With Imagery Using Shakespeare’s Lyrics And Images
There have been a number of “Romeo and Juliet” songs over the years. I’d like to share one of my favorite as well as one that I wrote.
My favorite one by far is by Andy Williams. It’s called “A Time For Us.” Here is that song:
Even though it was written decades ago, I find it incredibly inspiring, each time listening to it as though it was my first listen.
The sound and melody of this song combine beautifully with the passionate vocal performance and fitting musical arrangement. But the lyrics themselves would not be able to stand as a world-class independent poem because it lacks richness of imagery, imagination, metaphors, and similes. In my opinion, this is an OK poem that benefits greatly by being set to amazing music. And that is fine. I love this song. But I wanted to see another level of poetry and introspective depth.
So I tried to create my own addition to the long list of songs with imagery based on Shakespeare’s works or themes.
My Own Songs With Imagery Using Shakespeare’s Lyrics
Inspired by Andy Williams, I set out to write my own song with beautiful lyrics. My idea was to write an inspiring song with my own modern storyline, but also to tie in Shakespeare’s original lines.
I used the following original Shakespeare lines:
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. You have witchcraft on your lips. In your heart of hearts. Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.
Here is a page with more lyrical analysis of my Shakespeare song (acoustic version) if you want to read more about it.
Here is a version of the Shakespeare song with slightly catchier production and a busier musical arrangement:
You can read the full lyrics on the pages dedicated specifically to each version of the song, but I’ll tell you what my own favorite image is from my original lyrics. There is a verse that reads like this:
Fifty years we’ll dance with stars above on Romeo and Juliet’s balcony.
This line can be pretty on its own, but the imagery of this line comes alive in the context of the song’s story. Take a listen to both versions of this song, close your eyes, listen to the lyrics, and picture the imagery that Shakespeare painted for you, and hopefully some of my own.
To me, this makes it one of the most relatable songs I’ve written because I can really picture and visualize the imagery in this song of dancing on Romeo and Juliet’s balcony under the stars. It’s a really romantic and pretty moment.
Songs With Imagery By Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is widely regarded as one of the great American poets. It just so happened that his poetry was also set to music. Here is my extensive poetry analysis of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which is one of his most poetically-rich songs. When I was younger, I liked this song, but I didn’t quite understand or pay attention to the tremendous imagery in this song. I only realized how out-of-word-amazing the imagery in these lyrics are after I was writing my own songs.
I won’t rewrite my entire analysis of this song here, but take a look at just this line:
Though I know that evening's empire has returned into sand, vanished from my hand...
This is just one line, and it can be a little confusing. But it is just clear enough to be interesting and understandable. It contains interesting language and imaginative imagery. “Evening’s empire” – what’s that? So mysterious yet clear in some way. What about “returned into sand” – isn’t that an amazing way to conjure up in just a few words the imagery of lost worlds and infinite possibilities? What about “vanished from my hand?” It was all in the palm of his hand? What a magician! And that is just one line from the song.
Here is the full song for your convenience:
Bob Dylan has many other songs with amazing imagery. My other favorite of his is “Blowin’ In The Wind” which is one of his biggest hits. The title itself is a great image.
Songs With Imagery By Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen’s most iconic song is Hallelujah. It conjures up images of a modern love story contrasted by the setting of King David who played a magic chord – a chord so magic that it pleased God. But sadly, there is also an image of a woman who wasn’t interested in music, even if it is so beautiful that it pleased the lord. I interpret this song as a song about falling wildly in love at first, only to find out that your partner doesn’t share your interest. And maybe that’s fine because you may lose your partner, but you never lose music or that magic chord.
Leonard Cohen has other songs with interesting imagery, but one that stands out is “The Famous Blue Raincoat.” It’s a song about something other than the blue raincoat, but that raincoat works as a metaphor for something else. This song might feel a little slow at first, but even in its slow tempo, it is pleasing to the ear and works in its own mysterious way.
My Original Songs With Imagery
Above all my other songs, one that has the most imaginative songs is “Oh Michelangelo.” This song takes the famous painting by Michelangelo called “Birth of Adam” and instead of God and Adam, places modern-day lovers into that famous painting.
The image in the original painting of hands touching feels like a metaphor for much more than just the birth of Adam. It can be seen as a symbol of real connection between people. In fact, in my song I have lyrics like “our souls have met,” which sounds like it could be how you might describe such a sensitive, poignant touch that’s shown in the painting.