Song Lyrics Essay Many song writers don’t only write songs, they write poetry as well. This essay will compare the song “Hotel California” by the Eagles and “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, examining imagery, diction, and repetition to prove that there are many different styles artists use to incorporate poetic devices in their songs. Both the Eagles and Chapin use the poetic device imagery. In “Cats in the Cradle”, Chapin uses visual and auditory imagery. He mainly uses those two types of imagery to paint a picture of the father and son. For example, Chapin states “Well, my son turned ten just the other day.
He said ‘thanks for the ball, dad, come on, let’s play. ’ ” With that quote, the image of a little boy with his ball wanting to play becomes quite visible. However the Eagles use many types of imagery: visual; auditory; olfactory, the use of smell; tactile, use of touch. An example of tactile imagery would be “sweet summer sweat”. Everyone knows that feeling during the summer where the sweat just rolls down their cheek. With that quote, it produces that feeling for the reader. Furthermore, the use of imagery in “Hotel California” is much more concise resulting in a great deal of effect.
Another poetic device that both artists use is dialogue. Chapin uses a lot of dialogue; at least half of the song is when people are talking. Even though in most songs this would seem like too much, his use of dialogue produces plenty of effect. For example “‘when you coming home. ’ ‘Dad, I don’t know when. We’ll get together then, dad. You know we’ll have a good time then. ’ ” These lines are very significant to the song, not only because they are in the chorus and are said many times, but also because they are said as if it is the father wanting the song to come home, instead of vice-versa.
This quote foreshadows what is going to happen later on in the story. On the contrary, the Eagles use much less dialogue in their lyrics. There are only a couple lines of dialogue, like most songs. Although, unlike most songs, the chorus in “Hotel California” is always dialogue. The Eagles state “Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place, such a lovely face…” Even though the chorus is dialogue, it is still unknown who is the person saying it since in the line before the chorus; the Eagles say “I thought I heard them say.
The chorus is repeated and is a very useful example of dialogue. Both ways of using dialogue are effective and neither was more then the other. The final poetic device that is being compared is the use of repetition in both songs. While both songs do use the typical repetition of the chorus, there are other ways that Chapin and the Eagles use this device. Chapin not only repeats the chorus, he also repeats the title of the song, “Cats in the Cradle”, and many sentences including a variation of the words “I’m gonna be just like you, dad”. The title is stated at the beginning of the chorus.
The title also isn’t literally about “Cats in the Cradle”, it is a metaphor. Nevertheless, the title is mainly the only other part of the song that isn’t dialogue or about the dialogue. As a result, there is much more emphasis on the title. The other example of repetition in “Cats in the Cradle” is when Chapin says “I’m gonna be just like you, dad. ” This is the most important line of the song. Not only is it repeated, but it also brings the whole story together. This quote also uses irony, another poetic device, because the son ends up being like the father and makes the same mistakes.
However, the Eagles use of repetition is much more subtle, other then their repetition of the chorus. For example, the Eagles use subtleties such as “My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim. ” Although they don’t provide as much effect since they don’t have any special meanings. On the contrary, the Eagles use repetition to really emphasize the title, “Hotel California”, during the chorus. Each time in the chorus, the title is said twice and always at the end of the sentence. The Eagles want the listener to notice the name and remember it.
Both artists use repetition for different reasons and in different ways. All in all, Harry Chapin and the Eagles have different ways to incorporate poetic devices into their song lyrics and both ways are effective. On the other hand, using the three devices that were compared, “Hotel California” was much more concise and subtle with their poetic devices instead of being blatant. Also, in poetry, blatant usually isn’t the best way to go. Therefore the Eagles use an efficient and different way to incorporate their poetic devices into their nicely written lyrics.