May/June 2021 Lyric Contest Winners

Congratulations to all our May/June 2021 Lyric Contest winners! CLICK HERE to enter the July/August 2021 contest, deadline May 15 @ 11:59 PM CST.

1st place

 “Remembered” (Read Q&A with Cameron)
 By Cameron Burleson
 Mebane, NC
 Off by yourself in a wood all alone
 No one to mourn you, cry over your bones
 Memories lost but for a brief line of prose
 An ancient grey hymnal of songs undisclosed
 You were remembered today by a lone passerby
 Unknown to each other in the light of your lives
 A tear in a moment of hands held beyond time
 No greater monument could mark where you lie
 Peace in a place surrounded by thunder
 Of those rushing by pushing over and under
 The pace of their chase leaves them no time to ponder
 The worth of a soul laid so sadly asunder
 You were remembered today if you are never again
 The cool of this morning found you with a friend
 Unexpected, this blessing makes it worth more for then
 I've a better soul now than before it had been 

Are your Lyrics as good as Cameron’s?

2nd place 
 “Face On Me”
 By Pj Jacokes
 Pleasant Ridge, MI
 I got a tattoo on my ankle with your face on it
 But he didn’t do a very good job
 So the girl I love, sent down from above
 Looks like a rotting kebab 
 Let me tell this tattoo tragedy to you o’er these here verses
 A picture’s worth a thousand words and most of these’d be curses
 First is F***, just look at you, what on earth did that man do
 Worse is that the face he based his trace on was Fred Durst’s
 with pursed and purpled blistered lips
 smooth as ridged tortilla chips
 A bluish bulbous broken nose, squished as if in panty hose
 I got your face on me
 What was I thinking?
 Got your face on me
 To be fair I had been drinking
 But I know the real you is beautiful
 The picture I provided was snapped on our honeymoon
 While you preened upon a fountain in Peru one sunny June
 His interpretation took some drastic liberties
 (and now your) monstrous doppelganger is always leering up at me
 with eyes of different sizes, they’re lopsided, and what’s more?
 There’s more head to your forehead than a bad bartender’s pour
 I got your face on me
 What was I thinking?
 Got your face on me
 To be fair I had been drinking
 But I know the real you is beautiful
 If beauty be a building, then you’d be the Taj Mahal
 But that amateurish craftsman made your sweet visage awful
 His choices made Picasso’s work look photo-realistic
 And if Jesus gazed upon it even he’d be atheistic
 I should have seen this coming looking back in retrospect
 His wife had left that morning, he was something of a wreck
 But still he soldiered on with all your facial disrespect
 Injecting ink to make one think perhaps it’s been infected
 The neck is disconnected and looks like neglected prunes
 The bony bit of ankle bulges like a bad head wound
 I got your face on me
 What was I thinking?
 Got your face on me
 To be fair I had been drinking
 But I know the real you is beautiful
 But I know the real you is beautiful 
3rd place
 “Every Second Sunday Morning Dad”
 By Avrim Topel
 Rehoboth Beach, DE
 It was Saturday, and Kenny Jones stole second base
 Meanwhile, Kenny's pop was in the umpire's face
 I was out in left field tryin' to keep my cool
 Thinkin' ‘bout tomorrow’s bus ride
 Right after Sunday School
 He's my every second Sunday morning Dad
 Mama says don’t fret for what you never had
 ’Til this day I still get angry
 All mixed up with glad with sad
 When I visit with my 
 Every second Sunday mornin' Dad
 That beat-up prison bus is full of shame,
 But ya never hear a single word of blame
 I share the sober silence, everybody feels like me
 When it's drive two hours, stay ‘til 3, 
 Wait two weeks, repeat 
 He's my every second Sunday morning Dad
 Mama says don't fret for what you never had
 He's still the only father
 That I'm ever gonna have
 So I visit with my
 Every second Sunday morning Dad
 My whole world changed that day he went away
 The hardest part's the havin' to explain
 He's my every second Sunday morning Dad
 Mama says don't fret for what you never had
 ’Til this day I still get angry
 All mixed up with glad with sad
 When I visit with my
 Every second Sunday morning Dad 

4th place
 “Wichita Bar”
 By Jennifer Schmitt
 Lexington, KY
 Ten dollar curtains and wallpaper walls
 And a picture you drew sometime last fall
 Floorboards that creak in the spot where we danced
 Between the bitter and sweet and one last chance
 You took your chair and left a silver key
 And you left me feeling as low as can be
 Just when I’m closer to feeling fine
 Another old ghost breaks through the line
 How many matches can I hold to the wind
 And wish for your flame to die out and then
 I can’t help but wonder as it burns even higher
 Am I the blacksmith or am I the fire
 And how long before love turns to scars
 Questions don’t get me too far
 Here in these rooms up above
 A Wichita bar
 Jukebox in the corner stuck on “Strawberry Wine”
 My tips in the jar are just nickels and dimes
 I play to the backs of the second shift guys
 And for the waitress up front with a tear in her eye
 How many matches can I hold to the wind
 And wish for your flame to die out and then
 I can’t help but wonder as it burns even higher
 Am I the blacksmith or am I the fire
 And how long before love turns to scars
 Questions don’t get me too far
 All alone on a stage
 In a Wichita bar
 I never shuffled the cards but our hand's already dealt
 Did you ever tell me how you really felt
 How many matches can I hold to the wind
 And wish for your flame to die out and then
 I can’t help but wonder as it burns even higher
 Am I the blacksmith or am I the fire
 And how long before love turns to scars
 Questions don’t get me too far
 Alone in a room up above
 A Wichita bar 

Honorable Mention
“This Old House”
 By Joe Holmes
 Decatur, AL
 “Tell the Angels”
 By Doug C. Waterman
 Rochester, NY
 “Drip, Drip, Drip”
 By Brad Mays
 Austin, TX
 “Winning is for Losers”
 By Marjorie Holm
 Panguitch Lake, UT 
 “Nobody Said”
 By Joe Colavito
 Ringwood, NJ
 “Midnight in the Pines”
 By Luke Brindley
 Reston, VA
 “A Spark” 
 By Paul Nemecek
 Jackson, MI
 “I Keep Myself Inspired”
 By Nancy Kelel
 Azusa, CA
 “Red White and Blue”
 By Destin Bennett
 Nashville, TN 
 “Livin This Way”
 By Gary Chandler
 Watertown, NY 

Since 1984, the American Songwriter Lyric Contest has helped aspiring songwriters gain exposure and have fun.


Leave a Reply
  1. Are the judges demented?? How did Wichita Bar only get fourth??? The lyrical writing and ambience of that song is far superior than the other winners. Ive been a singer/musician for 40 years and have a Masters Degree in writing …know good lyrics when I see them. Been watching this contest for a while and Im just continually disheartened by the choices the judges make.

    • Denise, I wholeheartedly agree! This contest is pretty pathetic. It’s a joke.

    • Denise,

      I could not agree with you more. I don’t know what is going on with AS judging. I think Cameron’s winning entry is interesting as a poem, but it’s a stretch to call it a lyric and a really huge stretch to name it the winning lyric. I’ve been watching this contest for a while, and too often I have to scratch my head as to how a panel of judges can come to the conclusions they reach as to the winners of these lyric contests.


    • Thank you, Marshall. (Congratulations as well, to all the other winners and honorable mentions here.)

  2. Agree Wichita is the stand out here, though the others are noteworthy. The judges in general seem to gravitate towards patriotic, social justice themes in these contests. Kind of predictable

  3. I agree with all the above comments – “Wichita Bar” is clearly the #1. I’m not trying to throw any brickbats at the judges or the other contestants, but the choice seemed so obvious to me in this case. Of course, when I reached the comments section I was relieved to see other readers agreed. Keep writing Jennifer Harvey! I also have to agree with Jim Bond’s suggestion that the judges seem to have a penchant for predictable themes and, to my mind, even somewhat facile lyrics at times.

  4. To the publisher of American Songwriter, please take my comments with the utmost of sincerity and respect. I have no intention of criticizing the work of the winners of 1st thru 3rd place, but anyone who has been “in the craft” for a substantial period of time will most assuredly agree that those lyrics do not meet the standard of quality that deserve high accolades from a “supposedly” industry-respected magazine. I realize that you vest your selections in third party judges, but in all honesty, you demean your reputation and credibility by accepting such results. Of course, your judges usually seem to pick lyrics that are either mediocre, poorly crafted, or blatantly amateurish. (Although, occasionally a good lyric makes it to 3rd or 4th place, it’s the exception, not the rule.) American Songwriter, I challenge you to support your position by requiring your judges to write a detail synopsis of why a winning song deserves the award. If you truly wish to be the definitive authority on the topic of songwriting, then you will use your contest as a teaching platform. My guess is that most of the past winners would not be winners if the judges had to justify their selection with hard evidence grounded in the craft of songwriting. How many winning song lyrics have gone on to get cut by a major artist? How many winning writers are now making a living at the craft? I’m guessing zero, but please correct me if I’m wrong. I have been in the music business for 41 years. I’ve worked with Grammy and Grammy-nominated and major label artists. I don’t know any A&R director who would get past 5 or 6 lines of this months 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. For the record, the 4th place pick “Wichita Bar” is a well-written strong lyric that should have easily taken precedence over the other three….that’s a fact, not an opinion. To the writers of 1, 2, and 3, please accept my apology for being critical of your work. I do not intend to say that your lyrics have no value, but it is my opinion that those works need polishing in order to rise to a truly professional level. American Songwriter, please get your act together or you will soon lose valuable customers and fans.

  5. I too have seen enough. In fact, I’m unsubscribing altogether. It would be nice if they posted Quarterfinalist, Semis, and Finalists to see how they narrowed down the choices. As it is now, it’s just too discouraging.

  6. I am absolutely off the mark, as far as entering lyrics in this contest,,,
    I guess I’m on a totally difft spectrum,
    I always assumed that those ones wether written 50 years ago or
    1 month ago,, the ones we know as the classics, the from long ago and still today great ones that will never go away, like
    Jon Fogerty, 50 years ago, with(bad moon rising, green river,etc) and still today, out with brand new Fogerty Factory (don’t you wish it was true)
    Classics!! I do not see or hear or find humor or feel that feeling when it heart does that skip a beat thingy,, and I close my eyes, and just drift away,, nothing in the world matters for them brief 3+ minutes!!! No disrespect, but I would predict that not any of these winning songs will still be being played, now or many years from now!! Knowing it’s Gonna be a classic the first time you hear it,,I thought that was part of the judging criteria, clearly I was
    Not correct,, let’s get back to the best of the best,, and have the judges do what they need to do,, be able to choose the ones today that are stand out ones,, and gonna still be standing among the classic/// Top shelf Only,,!!! Again just my opinion, 1,2,and 3, not for me!!

  7. I entered 2 different songs with 2 different styles. I was just curious to see the legitimacy of this competition. Red flags were visible when before turning in my 2 songs lyrics it stated…not only did it cost me $30 ($15 a piece) it said if you do not win we will NOT let u know, basically! That’s pretty much saying we have all the wiggle room needed to take in money without giving a damn about our contestants feelings or eagerness to see how we fared. I read the lyrics above, ALL of those listed and, I’m not saying mine are the best knees but at least mine had emotion, a story & felt like it came from the heart of an artist. I cannot even fathom the choices made…I know everyone will have a favorite…if there is even actual voting occuring. I know for $30 I couldve mailed my lyrics to a ton of studios, and probably rejected but at least they wouldve sent me a letter, and still I wouldve had enough left for some Taco Bell. I’m guessing the lyrics many sent in are on some waste bin waiting for the trash to be taken out…or never were downloaded. Why would u not have your judges provide feedback for all lyrics entered…or something to legitimize the $30 I just basically gave you guys to help pay for the guitar that was awarded to lyrics at top of page. Idk I’m quite disheartened but I’m not sure why I didnt know better than this. I feel like it may not matter posting this but hey…I paid my 30.

    • I don’t know what is worse, that great writers are being suppressed or that if one magically made it through winning is itself is now meaningless. The polite responses here are well intentioned, but someone should state it honestly, the winner was not simply lower quality than those bypassed, it was more or less junk.

  8. Wow! If it’s okay, I think I’ll try to change the cheery tone here a little. It’s too bad that someone deemed the winner has so little chance to savor the honor and satisfaction of that as has been afforded Cameron and the others, other than Jennifer’s entry, who have been assessed on this board. I commend Cameron, as well as P.J., Avrim, and Jennifer, as well as each of the Honorable Mention selections. I appreciated the ability displayed by each of you and Jennifer, you should certainly, and rightly, feel good about the feedback you have gotten. I think Cameron and the others should as well. Art, in its many forms, is subjective. It hits different people in different ways. Hats off to each of you and I hope your efforts take you where you want to be!

  9. Mick, yes…..congratulations to the winners for “winning,” but there IS a line between subjective and objective. Subjective is trying to decide between “Unanswered Prayers” or “Riding with Private Malone” as the better song. If this month’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners were honest with themselves, they would know that their songs need work and polishing. There is nothing subjective about it. The contest is supposed to be a competition, but it appears to be more of a random drawing. Tons of huge hit songs have been adorned with crappy lyrics. Take for instance, “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band. But that song was a hit based on the sum of its parts. This contest is a LYRIC contest, not a song contest. I would expect the lyrics to “Shake Your Booty” to not have success in this contest. Good strong lyrics contain any number of precise elements such as alliteration, internal rhyme, syllable balance, metaphor, clear message, strong hook, etc. Crafted lyrics do not come from random inspiration. They are molded and shaped. Nothing is by accident. Everything connects. So let me be clear. I am not saying that the lyrics of ANY winner are bad. They simply do not rise to the level one would expect from a magazine that presents itself as the authority on songwriting. I have yet to see a winner who meets the standard of a Kristofferson or Prine or Croce or Buffett or Lightfoot or Dylan.

    • Gregory. No one could have said it better. Very instructive. Anyone who puts pen to paper deserves a fair look and you did it without insulting or criticizing the winners. I have copied your paragraph word for word and pasted it on an extra screen for reference when writing my lyrics.

  10. Do you believe that AS has the balls to send this email out to entrants after their announcement of the winners of the last song contest?

    —– Forwarded Message ——
    From: “American Songwriter”
    To: “William Conklin”
    Sent: 4/20/2021 6:53:07 PM
    Subject: Are your lyrics even any good?

    Hey William,

    If you want to take your lyrics to the next level, then you should submit them for a lyric critique to get detailed and insightful feedback. Click here or the button below to get your lyrics critiqued.
    Get Your Lyrics Critiqued
    Keep Writing,
    The American Songwriter Team
    Sent to: [email protected]


    American Songwriter, PO Box 330249, Nashville, TN 37208, United States

  11. I just want to commend PJ Jacokes for brightening my day, and for rhyming “verses” and “curses” with “Fred Durst’s.”
    “Face On Me” is my favorite entry I have ever read here. The story, the imagery, the use of simile, the creative rhymes, it’s amazing.

  12. I have been submitting my songs to the American Songwriter Contests and the Great American Songwriter Contests(GASC) and have not even received an honorable mention. I do think my songs are competitive. I read all of the lyrics that placed several times, and I agree with everyone, “Hands Down” that “Wichita Bar” is the best and should have been the winner (no disrespect to the contest winner).

    Wichita Bar has better theme development, imagery, rhyming, structure, etc. So I don’t get it either. What’s the problem? I think the judging is better for the GASC, but sometimes they make me scratch my head too!

    They won’t make me quit writing and doing what I love to do! So to al…keep the faith and keep writing!

  13. I’m confused! Is this American poetry or American Songwriter. Poetry has a different rhythm and feel. Some great lyrics here but but songs? Not so sure.

Leave a Reply

Dasha’s EP ‘Shiny Things’ Reflects a Rollercoaster of Emotions

Laura Marano Sees the Two Sides of Love with Alextbh on “Honest With You”