6 Wonderful Songs on the Topic of Writing

Writing is an exciting and beautiful activity that has inspired many songwriters. Read on to learn about six songs that display the beauty of writing.

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Single Covers of Oxford Comma, Everyday I Write the Book and Unwritten on a blue with sparkly white dots background.

The act of writing a book is filled with a lot of excitement and creativity. As a writer, you have to make all of these choices and decide where each story is going to go. It’s an inspiring process that is representative of many aspects of life. That is likely why writing books has been the topic of many popular songs. Sometimes the songs are about the literal experience of writing a book, while others use the process as a metaphor for something deeper. The songs about this topic truly demonstrate why writing is special.

Oxford Comma by Vampire Weekend

When it comes to the writing world, there is one big question that can divide writers into separate factions. Do you use the Oxford comma? This little piece of punctuation that comes with listing items can create many arguments. In their song Oxford Comma, Vampire Weekend makes their opinion on the Oxford Comma very clear; they think it’s pointless.

Cover of Vampire Weekend's single Oxford Comma with a photo of people playing in a field on a white background.
IMAGE VIA XL

In reality, this song is mostly about not giving in to the pretentious aspects of life. They are complaining about people who feel the need to show off their intelligence. The song begins with,

Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma? I’ve seen those English dramas too, they’re cruel. So if there’s any other way, to spell the word, it’s fine with me, with me.

In this indie-pop song, Vampire Weekend is going into the complexities that come with the English language and writing, which involves struggles that any new writer can understand.

Paperback Writer by The Beatles

When you are a writer, there can be some difficulties with getting a publisher to read your book. It could require quite a bit of effort. It probably would not be difficult for The Beatles to find a publisher, but they still know how to articulate the struggles of being a young writer in Paperback Writer. This song is about a hopeful author who is writing a letter to a publisher about getting his book published.

Cover of Paperback Writer single with all of The Beatles playing their instruments.
IMAGE VIA CAPITOL RECORDS

The catchy pop song is selling to the publisher a story that sounds fairly exciting by the descriptions. The song/imaginary letter starts off with,

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look? It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear. And I need a job. So I wanna be a paperback writer.

We all hope for the best for this imaginary paperback writer, as his earnest conviction can be authentic to the experience of being an author.

Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Oftentimes, falling in love can feel like writing a book. At least, that is what Elvis Costello is implying. Costello’s song Everyday I Write the Book is about a guy who has been falling for a girl and compares the different moments of their love to writing different chapters of a book.

Cover of Elvis Costello's Everyday I Write the Book single with Costello's name in big, artful, and colorful letters.
IMAGE VIA F-BEAT

With lyrics like “Every day I write the book. Chapter One: We didn’t really get along. Chapter Two: I think I fell in love with you. You said you’d stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three,” this pop-rock hit indicates how swiftly love can change. It also demonstrates that the best love stories are the ones that are as exciting as a captivating book.

Rewrite by Paul Simon

When you are in the middle of writing a book and you decide that you don’t like what you have written, you can always go back and rewrite the sections that you don’t like. Unfortunately, our lives do not work the same way. Once we go through an experience, we can’t go back. In Rewrite, Paul Simon expresses how badly some of us wish we could go back and rewrite the events of our lives.

Album cover of So Beautiful or So What, which Rewrite is on, which has a pattern that looks like a strand of DNA on a black background.
IMAGE VIA HEAR MUSIC

Simon’s song is from the perspective of a Vietnam War veteran. The veteran has recently come back from the war and has become depressed and tired of everything that has happened. Because of that, the veteran wishes he could rewrite the events of his life so that there could be a happy ending. To make this point, Simon sings,

I’m workin’ on my rewrite, that’s right. Gonna change the ending. Throw away the title. And toss it in the trash.

It’s wishful thinking about how we wish our lives could be like books. However, in our lives, we only get to have one draft.

Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

While there are many similarities between life and a book, there is one key difference. Books have a set story with the beginning and the end coming out at the same time. The same can’t be said for our life stories, which is the point that Natasha Bedingfield is making. In her song Unwritten, she emphasizes how we have control of our lives and it can be like a book that has not yet been finished.

Cover of Unwritten single with Hatasha Bedingfield putting her arms on her knees staring at the camera.
IMAGE VIA PHONOGENIC

Bedingfield is talking about the excitement that can come with not knowing what happens next. In books, the author decides what happens to characters that are separate from themselves. Bedingfield is showing in her soft pop song that we are the authors of our own stories as we get to decide what happens next. As she says,

I am unwritten. Can’t read my mind. I’m undefined. I’m just beginning. The pen’s in my hand. Ending unplanned.

As Bedingfield sang, the book of our lives is still being written and anything can happen in the upcoming chapters.

Word Crimes by Weird Al Yankovic

Even though writing can be an enjoyable activity, there are often a lot of difficulties that come with it. Namely, there are a lot of rules that have to be followed in order to be a proficient writer, which can take the fun out of writing. Fortunately, Weird Al Yankovic takes these rules and puts the fun back into writing. In a parody of Blurred Lines, Yankovic’s Word Crimes uses comedy to teach people about all of the mistakes that should be avoided while writing.

Album cover of Mandatory Fun, which Word Crimes is on with Weird AL Yankovic wearing a military uniform with his hand on his hips looking tough and planes flying in the background with lines of soldiers and a tank underneath him.
IMAGE VIA RCA

Grammar is a key part of having readers understand your work. Without proper grammar, many books would be impossible to read. Through the power of catchy comedy music, Yankovic helps writers understand what they should know about writing in order to create a successful story. For example, Yankovic sings,

One thing I ask of you. Time to learn your homophones is past due. Learn to diagram a sentence too. Always say ‘to whom.’ Don’t ever say ‘to who.’ And listen up when I tell you this. I hope you never use quotation marks for emphasis.

While the song may be disguised with humor, the little lessons in this song can be a great guide for all writers.

If there are any experts on writing, those experts are songwriters. They know about the tough process and its exciting nature. Therefore, they know how to talk about it and apply it to life. These songs expertly use beautiful tunes and lyrics to display the intricacies of writing. That is why people are still listening to all of these songs to this day.


If you want to learn more about the connection between writing books and music, click here.

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FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR/RACHEL ROSENFIELD