Personification in Songs

Last Updated: March 15, 2024

Personification in Songs

Music, a universal language, has a way of evoking emotions like no other medium. One of its secret weapons? Personification. Throughout musical history, artists have given life to the lifeless, voicing emotions and stories through inanimate objects and abstract concepts. From the sun crying to heartbeats dancing, songs offer a rich tapestry of personification examples. Dive in to explore its lyrical magic, learn to craft your own, and pick up invaluable tips for your musical journey!

What is Personification in a Song? – Definition

Personification in a song refers to the lyrical technique where non-human objects, ideas, or animals are given human attributes. Essentially, it means attributing human characteristics or emotions to entities that aren’t human, breathing life into abstract concepts or inanimate objects. This device is often used in songwriting to create vivid imagery, evoke deeper emotions, and enhance the poetic quality of the lyrics.

Example of Personification in Songs

There are countless songs that utilize personification, but one classic example is from The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”:

“Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter. Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun, and I say it’s all right.”

In this song, the sun is personified as a comforting entity that brings relief after a long, cold winter, which can also be interpreted as difficult times. The sun “coming” implies a human-like action, and the overall tone suggests that the sun has the capability of making everything “all right”, as though it possesses a comforting human trait.

Most Popular Songs with Personification

1. “Imagine” (by John Lennon)

Imagine all the peopleLivin’ life in peaceYou
You may say I’m a dreamerBut I’m not the only oneI hope someday you’ll join usAnd the world will be as one

Lennon personifies “imagination” and “dreams” as catalysts for world peace and unity, urging listeners to envision a harmonious world. The song uses these concepts to challenge and inspire global change.

2. “Like a Rolling Stone” (by Bob Dylan)

Once upon a time you dressed so fineThrew the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?People call say ‘beware doll, you’re bound to fall’You thought they were all kidding youYou used to laugh aboutEverybody that was hanging out 

Dylan personifies life’s fortunes as a rolling stone, suggesting that status and success are fleeting, and one can quickly go from the heights of society to the lows, much like a stone rolling aimlessly.

3. “Heroes” (by David Bowie)

We can be Heroes, just for one dayWe can be us, just for one day
I, I can remember (I remember)Standing, by the wall (by the wall)And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)

Bowie personifies the idea of “heroes” as attainable states of being, even if just temporarily. This song captures the spirit of hope and the possibility of transcending ordinary life through love and bravery.

4. “Blackbird” (by The Beatles)

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life, you were only waiting
For this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see

“Blackbird” uses the image of a bird learning to fly as a metaphor for the civil rights movement, personifying the blackbird as a symbol of struggle and liberation.

5. “Purple Haze” (by Jimi Hendrix)

Purple haze, all in my brainLately things they don’t seem the sameActin’ funny, but I don’t know whyExcuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze, all aroundDon’t know if I’m comin’ up or down

Hendrix personifies “purple haze” as a confusing, disorienting force affecting his perception. This song captures the psychedelic experience, with “purple haze” embodying the mystique and allure of altered states of consciousness.

6. “Hotel California” (by Eagles)

“Welcome to the Hotel CaliforniaSuch a lovely place (such a lovely place)Such a lovely facePlenty of room at the Hotel CaliforniaAny time of year (any time of year)You can find it here”

The Eagles personify “Hotel California” as a living, breathing entity that captivates and ensnares guests. This classic song is often interpreted as a metaphor for the excesses of the American dream.

7. “Thriller” (by Michael Jackson)

‘Cause this is thriller, thriller nightAnd no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strikeYou know it’s thriller, thriller nightYou’re fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight, yeah
Ooh, oohYou hear the door slam

Jackson personifies the night and its terrifying aspects in “Thriller,” turning it into a character filled with suspense and horror, embodying the thrill of being chased by unseen monsters.

8. “The Sound of Silence” (by Simon & Garfunkel)

Hello darkness, my old friendI’ve come to talk with you againBecause a vision softly creepingLeft its seeds while I was sleepingAnd the vision that was planted in my brainStill remainsWithin the sound of silence

The duo personifies “darkness” as a companion and confidant, using it to explore themes of isolation, introspection, and the search for meaning in a noisy, disconnected world.

9. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (by Simon & Garfunkel)

Like a bridge over troubled waterI will lay me downLike a bridge over troubled waterI will lay me down
When you’re down and outWhen you’re on the street

This song personifies the bridge as a steadfast supporter and protector, offering comfort and shelter during difficult times. It’s a powerful metaphor for friendship and support.

10. “Stairway to Heaven” (by Led Zeppelin)

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is goldAnd she’s buying a stairway to Heaven
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closedWith a word she can get what she came for
Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to Heaven

Led Zeppelin personifies the “stairway to heaven” as a path to spiritual enlightenment or material success, depending on interpretation. The song reflects on ambition, the search for meaning, and the pitfalls of materialism.

100 Personification Examples in Songs

Songs are a treasure trove of emotive language, with personification being a primary tool. This technique, granting human characteristics to inanimate objects or abstract concepts, provides a deeper connection, making the inanimate speak, feel, and act human.

  1. “The wind whispers the names of the fallen.” – “Where The Wind Blows” by Coco O.
  2. “The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun.” – “Read My Mind” by The Killers
  3. “The sun is burning in the sky.” – “The Sun is Burning” by Simon & Garfunkel
  4. “The sky cries.” – “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses
  5. “This house is on fire!” – “This House is on Fire” by AC/DC
  6. “The freeway’s jammed with broken heroes.” – “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
  7. “Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.” – “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day
  8. “The first cut is the deepest.” – “The First Cut is the Deepest” by Cat Stevens
  9. “Heaven knows it’s got to be this time.” – “Ceremony” by New Order
  10. “Yesterday loves to be held tight and will not be held.” – “Yesterday” by Atmosphere
  11. “The moon went hiding, stars quit shining.” – “Rain is a Good Thing” by Luke Bryan
  12. “Money, it’s a hit. Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit.” – “Money” by Pink Floyd
  13. “Now the darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and the lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.” – “Closer to Fine” by Indigo Girls
  14. “Where the ocean meets the sky, I’ll be sailing.” – “Rock Lobster” by The B-52’s
  15. “The wind cries Mary.” – “The Wind Cries Mary” by Jimi Hendrix
  16. “This old heart of mine been broke a thousand times.” – “This Old Heart of Mine” by The Isley Brothers
  17. “The clock on the wall’s moving slower, my heart it sinks to the ground.” – “Goodbye My Lover” by James Blunt
  18. “Thunder only happens when it’s raining.” – “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
  19. “Hope she’ll be a fool who’ll stay too long.” – “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5
  20. “The sky’s the limit, and the limit’s the sky.” – “The Sky’s The Limit” by Lil Wayne
  21. “The world spins madly on.” – “World Spins Madly On” by The Weepies
  22. “Hello darkness, my old friend.” – “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
  23. “Wisemen say only fools rush in.” – “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley
  24. “The dawn is breaking, a light shining through.” – “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter
  25. “The night will weave its magic spell when the one you love is near.” – “Tonight You Belong to Me” by Patience and Prudence
  26. “Every breaking wave on the shore tells the next one there’ll be one more.” – “Every Breaking Wave” by U2
  27. “Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood.” – “The Heart of Life” by John Mayer
  28. “Time, why you punish me?” – “Time” by Hootie & the Blowfish
  29. “The rhythm of my footsteps crossing flood lands to your door have been silenced forever more.” – “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie
  30. “The stars lean down to kiss you.” – “Vanilla Twilight” by Owl City
  31. “My love is like a lone red rose, that’s newly sprung in June.” – “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns
  32. “The bluest skies don’t seem so blue, and the stars seem to be a little dimmer too.” – “Crash and Burn” by Savage Garden
  33. “Time wears you down. Time ages and then kills you.” – “Time” by Enya
  34. “Can’t keep my eyes from the circling sky. Tongue-tied and twisted; just an earth-bound misfit, I.” – “Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd
  35. “Hollywood is under me, I’m Martin Sheen. I’m Steve McQueen, I’m Jimmy Dean.” – “Californication” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  36. “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again.” – “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor
  37. “And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our soul.” – “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
  38. “The river’s gonna cry when you’re gone.” – “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips
  39. “My heart’s a stereo, it beats for you so listen close.” – “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes ft. Adam Levine
  40. “Sometimes the snow comes down in June. Sometimes the sun goes ’round the moon.” – “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams
  41. “The city streets are wet again with rain, but I’m walking just the same.” – “Skies the Limit” by Fleetwood Mac
  42. “The silence isn’t so bad, ’til I look at my hands and feel sad.” – “The Sound of Settling” by Death Cab for Cutie
  43. “Chance is the fool’s name for fate.” – “What’s In a Name” by The Neville Brothers
  44. “This old guitar and me, and the things that we’ve been through.” – “This Old Guitar” by John Denver
  45. “The walls keep tumbling down in the city that we love.” – “Pompeii” by Bastille
  46. “Money talks, but it don’t sing and dance and it can’t walk.” – “Forever in Blue Jeans” by Neil Diamond
  47. “Every teardrop is a waterfall.” – “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” by Coldplay
  48. “The mountains say, the canyon’s crying.” – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
  49. “I am the highway.” – “I Am The Highway” by Audioslave
  50. “Pain, without love. Pain, I can’t get enough.” – “Pain” by Three Days Grace
  51. “But February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver.” – “American Pie” by Don McLean
  52. “The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds strewn across a blue blanket.” – “Wish You Were Here” by Incubus
  53. “The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.” – “The Highwayman” by Loreena McKennitt
  54. “This bed is on fire with passionate love.” – “Laid” by James
  55. “The piano is not firewood yet.” – “All The Rowboats” by Regina Spektor
  56. “Fate is coming, that I know.” – “Waiting for the End” by Linkin Park
  57. “The ground below grew colder, as they put you down inside.” – “Snuff” by Slipknot
  58. “I can feel it coming in the air tonight.” – “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
  59. “The shadows on the wall tell me the sun is going down.” – “Night Changes” by One Direction
  60. “Your love was handmade for somebody like me.” – “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
  61. “These hands had to let it go free and this love came back to me.” – “Mine” by Taylor Swift
  62. “The morning sun when it’s in your face really shows your age.” – “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart
  63. “The wind screams Mary.” – “The Wind Cries Mary” by Jimi Hendrix
  64. “The stars in the night, they lend me their light to bring me closer to heaven with you.” – “Brighter Than the Sun” by Colbie Caillat
  65. “The clock laughed in my face.” – “Kissing Time” by The Kinks
  66. “The jealous ocean as it stole me.” – “Come Back… Be Here” by Taylor Swift
  67. “The world’s got a funny way of turning ’round on you.” – “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow
  68. “The room’s hush hush and now’s our moment.” – “Sing” by Ed Sheeran
  69. “Where the streets have no name.” – “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2
  70. “Mercy, mercy, puttin’ the cuffs on me.” – “Mercy” by Duffy
  71. “The night’s got teeth, can you feel it?” – “Runaway” by Kanye West ft. Pusha T
  72. “The shadows are waltzing.” – “Cosmic Love” by Florence + The Machine
  73. “The city sleeps and I won’t be afraid.” – “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons
  74. “Your beauty trumped my doubt.” – “Without You” by David Guetta ft. Usher
  75. “The walls kept tumbling down in the city that we love.” – “Pompeii” by Bastille
  76. “The stairs creak as I sleep, it’s keeping me awake.” – “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay
  77. “The beat of my heart says you’re still my man.” – “Heart Attack” by Demi Lovato
  78. “The night is on my side.” – “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith
  79. “Every step I take, the shadows creep longer.” – “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
  80. “The sky’s more full of stars than you would believe.” – “Stars” by Switchfoot
  81. “Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.” – “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day
  82. “These dreams go on when I close my eyes, every second of the night, I live another life.” – “These Dreams” by Heart
  83. “The sun is gone, but I have a light.” – “Dumb” by Nirvana
  84. “Fate whispered to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispered back, ‘I am the storm.'” – “The Storm” by Breaker of Chains
  85. “Every broken heart knows the first step is admitting the addiction.” – “Relapse” by Carrie Underwood
  86. “The city never sleeps at night.” – “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons
  87. “Desire, she’s a candle burning my room.” – “Desire” by U2
  88. “The tide is high but I’m holding on.” – “The Tide is High” by Blondie
  89. “You say the hill’s too steep to climb, chiding! You say you’d like to see me try climbing!” – “Fearless” by Pink Floyd
  90. “These wounds won’t seem to heal, this pain is just too real.” – “My Immortal” by Evanescence
  91. “This heart, it beats, beats for only you.” – “Decode” by Paramore
  92. “The road’s so cold, you’re all alone.” – “Pillowtalk” by Zayn Malik
  93. “The rhythm of the night dances in my head.” – “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge
  94. “The wind you feel is always at your back.” – “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift
  95. “Loneliness be over, when will this loneliness be over?” – “Stop This Train” by John Mayer
  96. “The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun.” – “Read My Mind” by The Killers
  97. “The thunder rolls and the lightning strikes.” – “The Thunder Rolls” by Garth Brooks
  98. “This whiskey got me feeling pretty.” – “Drunk in Love” by Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z
  99. “The world’s a roller coaster and I am not strapped in.” – “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182
  100. “The room’s spinning, it must be the tanqueray.” – “No More Rain (In This Cloud)” by Angie Stone

Personification in songwriting creates a canvas where emotions, objects, and nature come alive, speaking to us in ways that simple narratives cannot. These examples span across various music genres and decades, showcasing how effective and timeless this literary device remains in reaching the hearts of listeners. The ability of songwriters to weave such powerful imagery into their work is a testament to the transformative power of music and lyrics.

Personification Examples in Rap Songs

Rap often pushes boundaries with its poetic expressions. One device frequently employed is personification, where abstract feelings or inanimate objects are given human traits. This enriches the narrative, making it more relatable and evocative.

  1. “The streets are alive, they got a mouth and they talk.” – “Streets Talking” by Slick Rick
  2. “My pistol and pen both say ‘revenge’.” – “Brenda’s Got A Baby” by Tupac Shakur
  3. “Fear’s got a hold on me.” – “Fear” by Drake
  4. “The city never sleeps, full of villains and creeps.” – “Survival of the Fittest” by Mobb Deep
  5. “My tears speak louder than my words.” – “Diary” by Scarface ft. NAS
  6. “Time keeps creeping through the neighborhood.” – “Everyday Struggle” by The Notorious B.I.G.
  7. “Guilt’s burning, regrets yearning.” – “Moment of Clarity” by Jay-Z
  8. “Loneliness knows me by name.” – “Spaceship” by Kanye West
  9. “The streets whispered every secret I was trying to conceal.” – “Blue Suede Shoes” by Vince Staples
  10. “Death knocking at my front door.” – “Many Men (Wish Death)” by 50 Cent

Personification Examples in Disney Songs

Disney songs are timeless treasures that capture our hearts. Part of their magic comes from the use of personification, which breathes life into characters and scenarios, making these tunes memorable and enchanting.

  1. “The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake.” – “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid
  2. “The world for once in perfect harmony, with all its living things.” – “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King
  3. “The whispers of the wind sound so sweet.” – “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas
  4. “The daffodils on the hillside twinkle like the morning stars.” – “Little April Shower” from Bambi
  5. “The rivers are so inviting.” – “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas
  6. “The moon told me to chase my dreams.” – “La Luna” from Brave
  7. “The stars in the night sky look down where he lay.” – “O Holy Night” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  8. “The leaves wanted to join in our play.” – “When I See an Elephant Fly” from Dumbo
  9. “The world’s embraced by beds of evergreen.” – “Frozen Heart” from Frozen
  10. “The hills send me a lullaby.” – “Home on the Range” from Home on the Range

Personification Examples in Taylor Swift Songs

Taylor Swift’s songwriting genius often manifests in the form of personification. Her ability to give life to emotions and situations through her lyrics ensures her songs resonate deeply with fans.

  1. “Time turns flames to embers.” – “All Too Well”
  2. “The traffic lights don’t turn blue tomorrow.” – “Death by a Thousand Cuts”
  3. “Echoes of your footsteps on the stairs.” – “I Think He Knows”
  4. “My heart’s been borrowed and yours has been blue.” – “Lover”
  5. “The wine is cold, like the shoulder that I gave you in the street.” – “exile” ft. Bon Iver
  6. “The autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place.” – “All Too Well”
  7. “The buttons of my coat were tangled in my hair.” – “The 1”
  8. “The walls kept tumbling down in the city we love.” – “I Know Places”
  9. “The night we couldn’t quite forget.” – “Wildest Dreams”
  10. “The water filled my lungs, I screamed so loud.” – “Clean”

Personification Examples in Country Songs

  1. “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert
  2. “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw
  3. “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss
  4. “Hurricane” by Luke Combs
  5. “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean

Personification in Opm songs

  1. “Anak” by Freddie Aguilar
  2. “Hawak Kamay” by Yeng Constantino
  3. “Tadhana” by Up Dharma Down
  4. “Kisapmata” by Rivermaya
  5. “Narda” by Kamikazee

Personification Examples in Christmas Songs

  1. “Frosty the Snowman” by Gene Autry
  2. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry
  3. “Winter Wonderland” by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith
  4. “The Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
  5. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne

What are some songs that have personification?

Personification, a literary device where non-human things or abstract ideas are given human attributes, has been used to great effect in many songs. Here are some examples:

  • “The Wind Cries Mary” by Jimi Hendrix: The title itself suggests the wind, an inanimate natural phenomenon, lamenting or calling out a name.
  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan: The wind carries answers, suggesting a consciousness to nature.
  • “The Tide is High” by Blondie: The tide, representative of challenges and hurdles, is depicted as having intention and purpose.
  • “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival: Rain, usually a symbol of sadness or cleansing, is given human-like qualities of intention.
  • “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” by David Bowie: Stars are depicted as watching over us, much like sentient beings.

These songs and many others use personification to evoke deep emotions, create vivid imagery, and craft memorable lines that resonate with listeners.

How to Write Personifications in Songs?

Writing personification in songs involves imbuing inanimate objects, animals, or abstract ideas with human characteristics or emotions. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Identify Your Subject: Choose the non-human entity you wish to personify. This could be nature (wind, rain, trees), objects (a car, a house, a book), or abstract ideas (love, time, death).
  2. Determine the Emotion or Action: Decide what kind of human attribute or emotion you want to associate with your chosen subject. Is the moon lonely? Does the river sing? Is time chasing you?
  3. Craft Your Lyrics: Start writing your lyrics, integrating the human qualities into your non-human subject. For example, “The clock laughs in my face, reminding me of the race.”
  4. Use Strong Imagery: Make sure your listeners can visualize the scene or emotion you’re trying to convey.
  5. Revise and Refine: As with any writing, your first draft might not be perfect. Keep revising until your personification is clear, impactful, and evocative.

Tips to Writing a Personifications in Songs as a Songwriter

  1. Keep It Relatable: Personification works best when the human attributes you’re assigning to non-human entities are familiar and relatable to your audience.
  2. Use Active Language: Active verbs give energy to your personification. For instance, “The sun chased away the night” is more evocative than “The sun appeared after the night.”
  3. Be Consistent: If you’ve decided that the sea is angry in your song, ensure that its actions and the imagery around it remain consistent with that emotion.
  4. Avoid Overdoing It: While personification can be powerful, using it in every line can make your song feel overloaded. Balance is the key.
  5. Research: Listen to songs that employ personification effectively. Analyze how artists use this device to their advantage.
  6. Use Metaphors and Similes: They can complement personification. For instance, “The sun, like a tired traveler, set behind the hills” combines simile with personification.
  7. Seek Feedback: Once you’ve written your song, share it with someone and ask if the personification feels natural and impactful.

In essence, personification can add depth and character to your songs. By giving life and emotions to inanimate objects and abstract ideas, you can evoke stronger emotions and create a lasting impact on your listeners.

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