How to write a song analysis essay

A song analysis is an analysis of a song’s lyrics. Just like when you are in an English class and have to analyze a work of poetry, by analyzing song lyrics, you are trying to extract the meaning of the lyrics and demonstrate them for your reader—so they can understand what you are “seeing” in this song, so to speak.

For example, let’s say I want to analyze a famous song by Elton John called Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

I could the work thematically and address what I think this song is really about overall—in terms of theme.

I would begin analyzing this song in stanzas.

Stanze one:

Here, Elton seems to be speaking to someone who is either flying or perhaps “out of reality,” or “off the ground” in that they need to come down an land on Earth. In fact, the whole song seems to evoke three kinds of feelings—nostalgia for the past, a regret for years wasted on drugs, or a feeling of disenchantment with the rock and roll lifestyle.

Analyzing Overall themes:

Some lyrics in this song seem to evoke a mood of regret. Perhaps his father told him to stay close to home and live a simpler life than the temptations of money, fame, and fortune can provide.

Overall the singer seems to be yearning both for the comforts of childhood, the “yellow brick road” –the famed road from The Wizard of Oz that supposedly leads to Oz, the great wizard, who can fix anything and everything and who, most certainly, does not exist.

Perhaps, what Elton John is really saying then is that he needs a more authentic life—one that lies beyond functionality—beyond myths and hopes for some alternate world that does not exist—and given the plasticity of a life in fame—he seems to want to live on the ground, in reality, as opposed to living in a fake world one the yellow brick road, deluding himself.

Like his song Rocket Man, Elton John seems to be saying something very apprehensive about the world of fame. Fame seems to whisk artists away from their families, the real world, and their true natures in that the obsessions with popularity, money, fame, and fortune seem to realign our chief concerns, the singer says, in a way that is not necessary healthy.


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