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The Poetics of American Song Lyrics$
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Charlotte Pence

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617031564

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617031564.001.0001

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The Sonnet Within the Song: Country Lyrics and the Shakespearean Sonnet Structure

The Sonnet Within the Song: Country Lyrics and the Shakespearean Sonnet Structure

Chapter:
(p.26) The Sonnet Within the Song: Country Lyrics and the Shakespearean Sonnet Structure
Source:
The Poetics of American Song Lyrics
Author(s):

Charlotte Pence

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781617031564.003.0003

A sonnet literally means “little song,” yet there is no evidence that the first sonnets were ever accompanied by music. One of the sonnet’s popular periods occurred in the sixteenth century (or perhaps a little earlier), when songs and poems experienced a growing separation as poets and songwriters began to classify their work into distinct genres. Whereas songwriters took to the streets to perform their work, poets took to the page to print their work. This chapter explores how borrowed structures from the sonnet can still function in some country songs today. It analyzes Randy Travis’s “On the Other Hand” (1985) and the extent to which the Shakespearean sonnet form is embedded in the song. The chapter also looks at the song that most resembles the criteria for a sonnet: “Highway 20 Ride” by the Zac Brown Band.

Keywords:   sonnet, songs, poems, songwriters, country songs, Randy Travis, Shakespearean sonnet, Highway 20 Ride, Zac Brown Band

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