“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” That saying rings true in song lyrics from the past several decades. Whether it’s rock and roll, country or blues, there are millions of songs from the past and present with memorable lines we all know and love.
So what makes that one line in a song stick in your head sometimes for years on end? I’m not sure any one person could truly answer that question, but we decided to take a look at memorable lines in songs, our view, your view, and some views from the music industry.
It’s hard to say what will grab the attention of the masses and become a classic hit like “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair.” To a songwriter, that is the true meaning of success. I think every songwriter wishes they would’ve come up with the line in George Strait’s song “That woman that I had wrapped around my finger just come unwound,” everyone that is, except Frank Dycus and Dean Dillon, who wrote the song.
One of my personal favorites is an older song titled “I don’t remember loving you,” a song written by Harlan Howard and Bobby Braddock and recorded by John Conlee. It’s not just that one line that’s great, either. The way all the lyrics weave around that title is remarkable.
There are tons of great lines out there. We do, after all, live in Music City. But few can compare to Kris Kristofferson’s song “Me And Bobby McGee” and the line “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” That is a line that definitely says a lot in a few words.
Ironically enough, the original title of that song was to be “Me and Bobby McKee,” but when the idea for the title was pitched to Kristofferson, he thought he had heard “McGEE.” But it seems to have worked out okay, doesn’t it?
Moving on, we asked Peer Music’s Shalacy Griffin her thoughts on the most memorable line in a song. For her, it was “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers,” a song by Garth Brooks that he co-wrote with Patrick Alger and Larry Bastian. Courtney Gregg from Carnival Music took us in a completely different direction, stating she loved the line from “The Late Show” by Jackson Browne, “No one ever talks about their feelings anyway without dressing them in dreams and laughter.” She also admires the song “A Little Bit of Everything” by Dawes.
Getting back to a country tone, if you were to ask my sister Lisa, she would say there is no such thing as “a caramel colored sunset sky,” but she really likes the entire song as a whole. The line is from Gary Allan’s “Watching Airplanes,” written by Johnathan Singleton and Jim Beavers.
Here are a few other memorable lines I have heard in passing the past couple weeks:
1. “It’s Finally Friday”
Song of same title, by George Jones, written by Boyd/Haynes/Mize/Robbins
2. “Like a feather flyin high up in the sky on a windy day I get carried away”
I Get Carried Away – by George Strait, written by Steve Bogard and Jeffrey Stevens
3. “From now on all of my friends are gonna be strangers”
My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers by Merle Haggard, written by Liz Anderson
4. “I’m Goin Ugly Early Tonight”- if you haven’t heard this one, may I suggest YouTube?
Song of same title, by Cledus T. Judd, written by Bill Whyte, Pete Hourihan and Brent
5. “I’ll run in the rain till I’m breathless – when I’m breathless I’ll run till I drop”
Fool in the Rain, by Led Zeppelin, written by Jones/Page/Plant
6. “All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer by the stars.”
The Pass, by Rush, written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
7. “My Baby Packed Up My Mind and Left Me”
Song of same title, by Dallas Frazier, written by Owens Sr./Frazier
8. “Do you think that God could use another angel to help pour out the rain”
Help Pour Out The Rain, recorded and written by Buddy Jewell
9. “It’s been a hard day’s night”
A Hard Day’s Night, by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
10. “I want you to love me like my dog does”
Like My Dog, by Billy Currington, written by Harley Allen and Scott Emerick
11. “Now that she’s back in the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in her hair”
Drops of Jupiter, by TRAIN, written by Pat Monahan / Charles Colin / Robert S
Hotchkiss / James W Stafford / Scott Michael Underwood
12. “I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees. And those Williams
boys they still mean a lot to me…Hank and Tennessee”
Good Ole Boys Like Me, by Don Williams, written by Bob McDill
13. “My baby needs a shepherd, she’s lost out on the hill/Too late I tried to call her, when
the night was cold and still”
My Baby Needs A Shepherd, written and recorded by Emmylou Harris
14. “Please read the letter, I wrote it in my sleep/With help and consultation from the
angels of the deep”
Please Read the Letter, recorded by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, written by
15. “The warden said ‘Hey, buddy, don’t you be no square/If you can’t find a partner use
a wooden chair’”
Jailhouse Rock, recorded by Elvis Presley, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Last but not least, the line that brought this article to life. Back in the 1960s, our publisher was the assistant manager at the Grand Ole Opry. He still remembers a line from a song he’d heard back then, though he couldn’t recall the song title. The line was “you’re shaking the hand that held something of yours last night.” With a little research, we found that the song’s title is “You’re The Shaking Kind,” recorded by Roy Drusky, one of the popular “Nashville Sound” artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Now we are turning the attention to our readers…
We at Sports & Entertainment Nashville would like to hear your greatest memorable lines in a song. To post your most memorable line, just go to our web site and look for this article. Then comment with your own personal favorites! Who knows? We might do a follow up article and print your posts in our next issue. So keep an ear out and listen for those great lines in the songs you listen to…