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What are some examples of figurative language in song lyrics?

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dave28 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 19, 2008 at 8:49 PM via web

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What are some examples of figurative language in song lyrics?

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morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted November 20, 2008 at 12:01 PM (Answer #2)

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The example I usually use with my students is "Time" by Pink Floyd. This song contains many examples of figurative language such as the metaphor of life as a race. "Dull day" is also an effective example of alliteration that causes the line slow down and take on a monotonous, repetitive tone.

Another great song that is full of allusions is "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel. The song is a large repeat of allusions combined with a metaphor comparing the world's problems with a fire.

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eaglecat | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 20, 2008 at 12:01 PM (Answer #3)

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There are literally millions of examples. For instance, two of Madonna's songs are based almost entirely on a simile (a comparison using like or as) Those are "Like a Virgin" and "Like a Prayer" In her song "Spanish Eyes" there is a great example of metaphor (a comparison not using like or as) "the streets are paved with fear." Perhaps the easiest figurative language to find in song lyrics is the five different types of imagery: Tactile (touch), olfactory (smell), visual (sight), auditory (hearing) and gustatory (taste). These are phrases that directly appeal/engage the five senses. Allusion (alluding to a famous person, place, or event) is another type of figurative language often found in song lyrics. You can use the website below to search for song lyrics to serve as further examples.

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dave28 | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 21, 2008 at 7:58 PM (Answer #4)

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to morrol and all of U...

please, give me some analysis about the figurative language in song lyrics time by pink floyd..
because, figurative language in song lyrics is my title in my thesis...

can U give some analysis ...

thanks before for all...

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 6, 2010 at 12:55 PM (Answer #5)

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I agree with #3 - in a sense it may help you to think of songs as sung poems, with the same uses of figurative language that is characterised by poetry. For example, you might want to think about comparisons, and how the singer compares his or her beloved to something using similes or metaphors. Then you might want to think about imagery that is used to evoke the senses. These tips should help you to detect and analyse songs.

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regenotes | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 26, 2010 at 3:30 PM (Answer #6)

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to morrol and all of U...

please, give me some analysis about the figurative language in song lyrics time by pink floyd..
because, figurative language in song lyrics is my title in my thesis...

can U give some analysis ...

thanks before for all...

As a teacher, this makes me very sad... If you're going to write a thesis about something, make it about something you know about and care about. Don't patrol discussion groups and ask people to do your work for you!

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2011 at 12:19 PM (Answer #7)

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A very long song that is a classic from the sixties is Don Mclean's "American Pie" that is in the form of stream-of-consciousness.  It is, as Don McLean himself has said dreamlike, for, after a night's sleep, he awoke and wrote this song. McLean tells listeners not to try to make sense of it as it is part dream and part reality. "The day the music died" refers to the JFK assassination.  In the song, too, there are allusions to othe iconic James Dean, a jester, and a king.  "Helter skelter" is also used; this was an expression from the nefarious Charles Manson who had a cult following and was responsible for several murders.   Many are the metaphors in this song:  "sacrificial rite," "sacred store," "the last train for the coast."

A recording of this song which has the lyrics accompanying it can be listened to on UTube at this site:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAsV5-Hv-7U

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abstract62 | High School Teacher | Honors

Posted August 30, 2011 at 1:50 PM (Answer #8)

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Sometimes the song writer is also pretty clearly a poet in his or her own right.  This is true of Leonard Cohen, whose songs are poems and whose poems have often been translated into music.  Consider "Hallelujah" or "Bird on a Wire" or "Song of Bernadette" and listen to the Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright or Jennifer Warnes versions to hear the poetry come through in the expression.

Many of the lyrics that Rush has recorded are beautifully poetic, including famous examples like "Tom Sawyer" ("Though his mind is not for rent to any god or government; always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent, but change is") and "Limelight" ("All the world's indeed a stage and we are merely players, performers and portrayers, each another's audience").  My favorite poem by Neil Peart--Rush's amazingly talented drummer and lyricist--is "Jacob's Ladder" which is a breathtaking description of sunlight piercing dark clouds ("Bruised and sullen storm clouds have the light of day obscured, looming low and ominous in twilight premature, thunderheads are rumbling in a distant overture").

In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan of Canadian literature in all its forms.

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 9, 2011 at 7:26 AM (Answer #9)

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The original question has to do with figurative language and song lyrics which I'm sure you have access to if you love music.  I would suggest you try Amy Winehouse because if you can find figurative language in her dark songs, you can find it anywhere.  In her song, "Back to Black", she uses a simile with the phrase, "life is like a pipe" which is a comparison between two unlike objects using like or as and gives the picture of life being a long, narrow, confining pipe.  Another example from this same song is the metaphor she uses when she says, "And I'm a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside." She is saying she IS the penny which is a comparison between two unlike objects without using like or as which is a metaphor and gives the listener the image of her feeling very small and fearful.  This also can be used as personification as a penny cannot roll up anything itself which means it has been given the human power to do so.  The image of her being so small and rolling up so tightly inside is also effective to show her fear or despair.  Obviously, this artist would be okay for a college song lyric, but I would not use her for anyone younger as a classroom assignment.  As a teacher, Amy Winehouse's lyrics would cause too much grief because of her explicit words.

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inthekeyofc | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted January 14, 2012 at 11:25 AM (Answer #10)

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I have to agree with reganotes.

Base your thesis not only on what you love but, also on something YOU won't be anything less than thrilled to research on your own.

By college, if you haven't learned what "figuartive" means, maybe this topic is not a good a topic for an essay choice to begin with.

A graduate thesis is going to even more difficult.

Being that I'm not your teacher, you're a junior and I believe every student can learn something even if they start out misunderstanding something, should you stay with your topic, I strongly suggest you tackle Led Zepplin's "Stairway to Heaven" (it's before your time)

You're obviously, doing this for an English vs music course and, I can promise you if you use others' interpretations of the song, as your content, without making your professor read your own understanding of the song, first and throughout your essay, it will show.

I suggest once you are ready to write the close of the essay, you use the song to write about what impact, figuratively speaking, the assignment makes on your view of yourself and, the world of Classic Rock. If you can do that you can get an A or higher.

That is absolutely the only help I will give you with your question.

cont'd...

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inthekeyofc | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted January 14, 2012 at 11:27 AM (Answer #11)

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Answer - Part 2

If and when you might need to ask more questions, it will help you enormously to be understood better by being more specific. For example, "My question is related to my _________ class." "This is what I've tried so far: (example 1, example 2, example 3)" "I feel stuck here (describe what you need direction with) because (share the obstacle you're running into here)" and "My question is ___________?"

It's a courtesy that will not go unanswered, first, to yourself and, second, to those teaching you; a courtesy that will help you improve your writing ability(to get in the habit of)when formulating a full question about anything related to your education. Ok?

"example" in your question needs an "s" on it, should be followed by the preposition "of" and "language" requires a comma after it.

You might want to ask at your a college for someone to proof-read your finished project, before handing it in.

Good luck.

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sherman101 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 11, 2013 at 4:37 AM (Answer #12)

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Bali Hai will find you, any night, any day, Come away, your special island ,come to me, come to me! Part of lyric of Bali Hai, sung by Bloody Mary in the musical play, "South Pacific." This is a figurative lyric in a song about escape from reality.

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