Songwriter's Corner|

If you could ask a question of any successful hit songwriter, what would you want to know? You’d probably ask how they do it. In fact, you can ask that question and get an answer… just by taking an in-depth look into their hits.

“Brightside” – by The Lumineers

Why this song?

What do the TV show The Sopranos, the disappearance of D.B. Cooper, and Bobbie Gentry’s 1960s hit song “Ode to Billie Joe” have in common? In the end, each one leaves us with a mystery, questions without answers.

People love a good mystery, especially ones that end with a Big Reveal, one that tells us whodunnit while tying up all the loose ends. Giving an audience a mystery that is left unresolved can create dissatisfaction. It’s definitely risky.

Yet, the Unknown and Unsolved can sometimes capture people’s imaginations. On the day after the final episode of The Sopranos with its abrupt blackout finale, it seemed as if everyone was rabidly arguing over just what had happened to Tony Soprano and his family. Four decades earlier, the song “Ode to Billie Joe,” a huge Pop/Country hit in 1967, left a world of listeners desperate to know what Billie Joe threw off that bridge.

With their latest release, “Brightside,” The Lumineers appear to be creating a mystery of their own, a song that might almost be called “Ode to Billie Joe 2.0.” There’s a bridge, a woman, and an unanswered question.

In this Song Guide, I’m going to focus on the lyrics of this song, putting aside melody and production for now. Let’s take a look at how The Lumineers create a compelling lyric while leaving the listener with a puzzle.
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Read the rest of Ms. Frederick’s helpful hints and breakdown here:

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