Do you have a favorite musician who really knows how to write gripping lyrics? Of course, we all have our go-to artists for the perfect mix of music and words, but who is the best overall in terms of writing lyrics? Do they sing country or rap? Pop or rock? In this blog post, we'll dive into some of the most talented lyricists in music history according to Reddit users and distinguish which one truly stands out above the rest.
1. Tom Waits
One Redditor initially posted, “Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave might be at the top of my list. Master Song and Jubilee Street might be some of the greatest storytelling songs I can think of.”
Another commenter added, “Yes, plus Tom Waits!”
“Tom Waits is a genius lyricist and also a genius with melodies/unusual instrument combinations,” a third Redditor responded.
One user shared, “I was introduced to Waits by a talk show recording of The Piano has Been Drinking, and it got me hooked. He's also my favorite movie devil so far.”
Another commenter responded, “His performances are always a spectacle; I love it. And he definitely nailed it as the devil in the Imaginarium.”
2. David Berman
A user posted, “David Berman and only David Berman.”
Another Redditor added, “And I wanna be like water if I can, cause water doesn't give a damn…A lyric that's been stuck with me for 20 years or so and is still so meaningful. RIP.”
One user shared, “In 27 years, I've drunk 50,000 beers / they just wash against me like the sea against the pier. When it comes to water imagery, just holy s**t.”
“‘Death is a black camel that kneels down so we can ride. When the dyings finally done and the suffering subsides, all the suffering gets done by the ones we leave behind.'”, one responded.
Another commenter replied, “When God was young.”
3. John Prine
A Redditor posted, “John Prine.”
A second user added, “My late husband and I sang “In Spite of Ourselves” to each other at our wedding reception. It was amazing. The band we had, we knew all of them, out of Laramie Wyoming, played the song while we serenaded each other in front of all the guests. Let's say one grandparent wasn't too keen on some of their lyrics, but we didn't care.”
One user also shared his story, “Funny story, me and my former wife walked into that song played on the accordion when we got married. Don't think anyone knew what song it was. But it was a very beautiful instrumental on the accordion. Now we're divorced, and there is lots of animosity, but that and the birth of our son was very beautiful…”
4. Paul Simon
One user shared, “I know it's a common one, but the verse that always hits me is: ‘She comes back to tell me she's gone/ As if I didn't know that/ As if I didn't know my own bed/ As if I'd never noticed/ The way she brushed her hair from her forehead/ And she said, ‘losing love/ Is like a window in your heart/ Everybody sees you're blown apart/ Everybody sees the wind blow.'”
“For me, it's the lyrics to The Boxer. ‘I am just a poor boy though my story's seldom told; I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles; Such are promises, all lies, and jest; Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest…' You could pick a passage from most of his songs and find the most eloquent lyrics expressing depth and meaning with an economy of words.” another user added.
5. Mark Knopfler
A Redditor posted, “Mark Knopfler.”
Another user commented, “Sultans of Swing, Money For Nothing, The Princess Bride soundtrack. Classics. The only competitor with Knopfler is Neil Finn.”
Another commenter shared, “…finds a streetlight, steps out of the shade and says something like, ‘you and me, babe. How about it?'”
One user concluded with, “Best line in that whole song is, ‘I can't do everything, but I'd do anything for you. I can't do anything except be in love with you.'”
6. Elliott Smith
A user shared, “Elliott Smith.”
Another replied in agreement, “Elliott does not get the respect he deserves either because he gets compared to the Beatles or thrown in with the Emo wave, but his guitar work arrangements are probably the best I've ever heard. Also, the lyrics are timeless.”
7. Finneas O'Connell
Finneas, the writer and producer behind many of Billie Eilish's hits has won eight Grammys for his work.
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