Over the course of my career as a pro songwriter, I’ve learned that most songs boil down to 9 universal songwriting emotions that work in songs.


No surprise here! Songs like “Eight Days A Week”, “I Honestly Love You” and “Endless Love” are still standards.

Unrequited Love

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” are examples.

Wondering About The Meaning Of Life

“Dust In The Wind” and “The Good Stuff” are big hits written around this idea.

Cheating and Being Cheated On

“Third Rate Romance” and “Does He Love You” are great songs hitting this feeling from different angles.


Loss is an emotion that everyone can relate to. “Where’ve You Been”, “When I Was Your Man” and “Why Didn’t I Think of That?” deal with this topic in funny and serious ways.

Wanting To Have A Good Time

“That’s My Kind of Night”, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “I Love This Bar” are examples of songs exploring this feeling.

The Nostalgic Feeling

of looking back at something good from the past – “Anything But Mine” and “Summer of ‘69” are good examples.

Wanting To Get Away And Escape From Something

“The Pina Colada Song” and “Fly Like An Eagle” are monster hits on this theme.

Writing around powerful universal songwriting emotions is the key to having large numbers of people connect to your music. The next time you are running low on ideas, try mining some of these emotions for a fresh take on a powerful feeling!

Write on! MD

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Author: Marty Dodson