Songwriting Tip #3 – Moving the Story Through a Timeline
A common problem that songwriters face is not knowing how to structure our verses. Through analysing Queen’s hit song “We Will Rock You”, we’ll learn one of the ways we can develop the storyline of a song.
This article is a summarised transcript of the third part of our video “How to Write a Killer Rock Anthem – 7 Secrets from Queen’s We Will Rock You’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
Tell A Story
Sometimes when we write songs, we’re simply describing a specific moment. In the case of “We Will Rock You”, they’ve instead opted to describe the different phases of a character’s life. Observe the first line of each of the verses of the song, as below:
“Buddy, you’re a boy, make a big noise”
“Buddy, you’re a young man, hard man”
“Buddy, you’re an old man, poor man”
From this, we can see that the verses take us through different stages of Buddy’s life. Verse 1 describes him as a boy, Verse 2 describes him as a young man and Verse 3 then describes him as an old man.
If you’d like to learn more about how you could plan your song sections out, click here to download a free “Song Map Template” PDF now:
The Effect This Has
This chronological storytelling approach evokes a sense of nostalgia and reflection.
By assigning each verse to a different era of Buddy’s life, this allows listeners to contemplate the various stages and challenges we all face throughout our lives. The lyrics suggest that despite growing older, Buddy’s circumstances and struggles remain unchanged, creating a sense of constancy and a never-ending cycle of hardships.
While “We Will Rock You” is often seen as a confident and empowering anthem, this storytelling technique adds depth and complexity to the narrative. It portrays a character who persists in the face of adversity, regardless of the challenges that life presents.
It’s to be noted that as with any song, interpretations may vary, and listeners may find their own meanings and connections within the narrative. This is just one of many potential interpretations, but it’s not necessarily the only one that there is.
Conclusion: Songwriting Tip #3 – Moving the Story Through a Timeline
“We Will Rock You” is a great example of the power of storytelling in songwriting. It’s important for us to learn from this song and remember that a song doesn’t necessarily have to be about just a moment, but can take us through the timeline of a story instead.
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