Welcome to Liner Notes, MetroLyrics' interview series featuring songwriters discussing their craft. In this episode, we sit down with Alicia Keys to talk about writing music and her latest record Girl On Fire. The pop superstar tells us how she draws inspiration for her best songs, how the meaning of her songs and lyrics evolve over time, and the satisfaction she gets from her songs having different significance to people all around the world. Watch the Alicia Keys Liner Notes interview above and be sure to check back regularly for future entries in our Liner Notes series.

Watch the rest of our Liner Notes interviews, detailing how singer/songwriters write music, here:
Alicia Keys Liner Notes Video Transcription:

[intro music]

>> ALICIA KEYS: I mean there's tons of ways to write a song, but for me, that is the way to do it, you know — for it to be a natural experience, an honest experience, a true expression, even if it's something that was inspired by someone that I know or an experience that I've seen through another person's eyes. Any of that works to make it real for me, and that's, to me, the best way to write a great song.

[background music]

There are so many different parts to creating a record and things like that, but one of the greatest parts is after you've created it and you're able to share it. I was really excited about just putting it out there and letting everybody hear it, and so, for "Girl on Fire" to be received in such a way, it makes me feel really, incredibly good, 'cause that's how I feel in regards to just finding my passion and being — standing on my own two feet, standing my ground and really feeling what that feels like for the first time, and that's what made me feel like a girl on fire.

[background music]

When I write a song, it means something to me, and then to hear how it means something to somebody else — we might have two different lives, you know what i mean? But we can still relate to each other, and that's like the magic of music.

Sometimes they start off meaning one thing and then as I start to even understand them even more or I start to get to different parts of my life, I realize that it means different things in different moments. I mean the sentiment is the same but maybe it goes just that much deeper for that moment. So they do evolve, and then the songs evolve too. The arrangements evolve, the way that you play it, the way that you perform it, the way that you mean it. Because it's one thing to write it and put it together in the studio and it's another thing to start to discover how you're delivering it and how you're reliving that all the time.

[background music/performance footage]

I think I've probably grown the most in my entire — more than I've grown collectively prior to this record, I've grown more during the years coming up to this record. And so I think that's been really influential to how I've created because it's given me so much to talk about and so much life and so much inspiration and so much new energy and new experiences that I've never had before. So, it's like a very fresh way to kind of come back and have your own emotional conversation. It's been amazing though. I'm really enjoying it. I'm really enjoying this time in my life. It feels like a really good space. I feel like I've found a nice place inside myself, so it feels really good to go from this space.

Got a favorite Alicia Keys lyric? Share it in the comments. If you need help choosing, check out this list our friends at PopCrush put together of Alicia Keys' top 10 lyrics (which we can personally co-sign).