If you want to start with something that’s true, one of the best songwriting mentors you can look to is Travis Meadows.

He has a way of writing about his experiences that brings others in and not only reveals a bit about himself, but also creates a perspective for how people’s lives can shift, change and become new.

One of his best at pulling in memories and connecting images to a life lesson realization is “Pontiac” from his latest record First Cigarette (2017).

As a bonus, if you’re familiar with Lori McKenna and her Bird & The Rifle album, you’ll see some similar “growing up” themes and imagery in this song. That’s because she was a co-writer.  In particular, “We Were Cool” is a great comparison song with this one.

So let’s take a closer look at a song that uses symbolism and imagery to articulate a song idea focused on finding something to ground you as you move through life.


Travis Meadows “Pontiac

Genre:  Folk

Album:  First Cigarette

Released:  October 2017

Time:  4:24

BPM:  92


V | V | CH | V | CH | CH-ish


What Makes It Work?


Single Symbol To Capture The Song Idea

While the symbol – a Pontiac – is pretty general, it’s immediately relatable.  Meadows does a fantastic job of making it the center of the song’s message.  He uses it to symbolize a plea to keep something in your life that gives you perspective.

So how does it take on the responsibility and build throughout the song?

[ Get Details: Lyrical Devices ]


No Real Scene

This song is a great example of creating a dialogue with no real scene being described. Who’s the speaker talking to? Where are they? Is there really a conversation happening?

How does he use the lack of a scene to create a moment?

[ Get Details: Scene & Song Structure ]


Simple Rhyme Pattern

I love that the first verse is AAAAB but sounds like AAAAA.  The rest of the song uses a single end rhyme for each verse.  Verse 2 is CCCCC.  The chorus has a combined rhyme pattern of CBCBDDEE.

So why connect the second verse rhyme to the start of the chorus?

[ Get Details: Rhyme Pattern ]


Production Creates Contrast

The production on this song is pretty amazing.  It goes against what you’re constantly told by producers and those pitching in Big Cityville: “Your chorus should sound huge. It should swell, call attention to itself. It should launch.”

Meadows does none of that in the chorus.  Actually, he does it in the third verse!

How is the song better for the decision?

[ Get Details: Contrast, Contrast, Melody & Accompaniment ]


Lyrics & Song Stats

See how this song compares to others in terms of word count, reading level, and song lyric stats.

[ Lyrics & Song Stats ]


Analyzing other people’s songs gives you an opportunity to incorporate some of what they do into your own songs and expand your songwriting skills.

So how can you utilize all of the above in your own songs?

Go to the full song deep dive and get tips on applying to your own songwriting every time you sit down.




Apply Travis Meadows’s Techniques To Your Songs!