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The Bridge

September 20, 2019

Many modern songs employ what is known as a bridge. Lyrically, the bridge is typically used to pause and reflect on the earlier portions of the song or to prepare the listener for the song’s climax. The term may also refer to the section between the verse and the chorus, though this is more commonly called the pre-chorus or link. Bridges usually contain different and contrasting chord structure when compared to the verses and chorus.

To be sure, not all songs contain a bridge. A bridge is not needed in many songs. Most popular music is formulated with three verses and a chorus that is repeated after the second and third verse. However, often an emotional, lyrical, or compositional break and/or change is needed to mend a verse and chorus together or to offer some reflection on the previous parts.

There are thousands of songs that employ bridges. When I am asked in my songwriting classes to site examples of a bridge, I often point to Joan Baez’s Diamonds and Rust. This is a perfectly written bridge in that incorporates an emotional break along with a change in composition and lyric structure. Here are the lines from the bridge:

Now I see you standing
With brown leaves falling around
And snow in your hair.
Now you’re smiling out the window
Of that crummy hotel
Over Washington Square.
Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air.
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there.

Here is the song in its entirety. Do you hear the changes and when they occur? Listen carefully for that bridge and tell me what you think:

For more on musical theory, lyrics and song writing in general, please attend one of my lyric workshops or pick-up a copy of my book: Three A.M. – The Complete 1970s Song Lyrics.

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  1. I’ve loved that song since the 70s. I somehow missed that it was about Dylan until now. I did hear the bridge–magnificently melancholy Nice job. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bellissima canzone che amo anch’io!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulazioni! Questo è uno strumento difficile da imparare.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So interesting.
    Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Allen, you always post very fascinating topics… and, exceptionally written!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on allenrizzi and commented:

    This morning’s musical thought…


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