20 Songs About Keys

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Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

Keys have always been inspiring to artists and poets. So, why wouldn’t songwriters also find inspiration in them?

There are so many wonderful songs that talk about keys in various ways. Occasionally, the songs may be literally talking about keys. However, often you’ll find different meanings. For example, the idiom about having the key to one’s heart is commonly found in songs!

So, listen to these 20 songs about keys below to better understand how songwriters discuss keys in their songs! 

1. “I’m Gonna Make It Better” by She & Him

She & Him’s 2010 song “I’m Gonna Make It Better” is the first song about keys we’re going to discuss! In this song, the duo sing about how they know life can feel as if it’s too much. The world can feel as if it’s crashing on you.

The duo sings to someone, possibly a romantic interest, and explains that they’re going to do what they can to make things better. Through this, they mention keys. They sing, “I’m gonna make it make it better / I’m gonna get the best and lock it up and swallow the key”.

2. “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos

There are many different interpretations one can find of Tori Amos’ 1994 song “Cornflake Girl”. Amos describes different people and how they live their lives in this song. Even though she may have liked to be a “Cornflake Girl”, she knows she’s not — and never was.

Amos also mentions keys in this song, singing the lyrics, “Rabbit, where’d you put the keys girl?”. Amos has explained in the past that Rabbit was a woman she used to live with, so this line could be talking about literal keys.

However, Amos has also said in the past that Rabbit was a hippie who lived a full, happy, romantic life completely off the grid. Therefore, Amos, who isn’t a “Cornflake Girl”, could be asking where Rabbit put the keys to this life — as Amos wants to live like her.

3. “Bring Me to the Power” by Yes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFQnouOAH84

Yes’ 1997 song “Bring Me to the Power” discusses a lot. So, there are a lot of different meanings you can find about this song. However, the band mostly sings about the state of the world, humanity, and how love can help change anyone for the better.

The band also sings, “If they don’t give us the keys how are we supposed to get ready? / If they don’t give us the keys how are we to survive?”.

Here, they’re questioning how many people can live their lives as they’re supposed to when nobody really points them in the correct, loving direction. Instead, many people are told to live differently and aren’t given the keys to life.

4. “Lock and Key” by Rush

Rush released their song “Lock and Key” on their 1987 album Hold Your Fire. In this song, the band talks about how all humans have an animal, or killer, instinct. This means that people can do terrible things, though they often can talk themselves down from this state of mind.

To help get this point across, Rush discusses keys. They sing, “I don’t want to face the killer instinct / Face it in you or me / So we keep it under lock and key”.

5. “Get Out of My House” by Kate Bush

In Kate Bush’s 1982 song “Get Out of My House”, Bush sings about dealing with the end of a romantic relationship. Instead of moving on or trying to get over it, Bush becomes more isolated and pushes everyone away who tries to help her. As a result, she is completely alone.

Bush explains this state of mind by saying that she is in a house, all alone. She locks all the doors and windows so that nobody can get in. Therefore, she’s completely isolated.

She sings, “With my key I / Lock it up”. This is one of the best songs about keys and locks to listen to!

6. “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” by The Band Perry

The Band Perry’s 2013 song “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” follows the singer as she talks about not wanting to be alone for the night. She’s young, she wants to have fun, and she’s tired of feeling sad.

So, she sings the lyrics, “Take the keys to my car and the keys to my heart and just drive”. Here, she’s talking in a literal sense, while also wanting someone to take the keys to her heart!

7. “Keys to Your Love” by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones’ song “Keys to Your Love” discusses a romantic relationship. In this song, the singer explains that he has the keys to his lover’s heart. He loves her and only thinks about her. He knows all her secrets and everything about her!

Even if she doesn’t want him to have the keys to her heart, he does. For example, he sings, “Now try to lock me out, I can always get in”.

8. “Weirdo” by New Order

New Order released the song “Weirdo” on the 1986 album Brotherhood. There are many interpretations to be found of this song. When discussing keys, the band sings, “Someone like you cannot be free / Just like a lock without a key”.

Here, they could be saying that they feel that people like them cannot live free, for a variety of other reasons. They explain this feeling by discussing locks without keys. However, this also means that if the key could be found, they could be free!

9. “Love Is the Key” by Rick Springfield

In Rick Springfield’s 1974 song “Love Is the Key”, which appears on his album Mission Magic!, Springfield talks about life. Springfield explains that love is always the key to life. If we all spread love and kindness, everything would be so much better than it is!

10. “Give Me the Keys (And I’ll Drive You Crazy)” by Huey Lewis & The News

Huey Lewis & The News’ 1988 song “Give Me the Keys (And I’ll Drive You Crazy)” talks about a romantic relationship that hasn’t yet begun. However, Lewis sings that he knows the person he likes also likes him back!

The band discusses car keys and driving around to the beginning of this romantic relationship. So, Lewis says that if she gives him the keys to her car, this will be the start of their relationship.

11. “Open Your Heart” by Madonna

“Open Your Heart” by Madonna is also one of the best songs with keys in the lyrics! In this 1986 song, which appears on Madonna’s album True Blue, Madonna discusses how she feels about a man. She wants to be with him. However, he seemingly tries to avoid her and doesn’t give in to the romance he also feels.

So, this leaves Madonna trying to work to get him to realize they should be together. She sings, “Open your heart to me, baby / I hold the lock and you hold the key”.

12. “Chop Suey!” by System of a Down

System of a Down released their song “Chop Suey!” on their 2001 album Toxicity. This song can have a lot of different meanings, depending on each listener. However, it does discuss judging addicts or people who engage in self-destructive behavior.

To get this point across, the band talks about keys, singing, “Why’d you leave the keys upon the table? / Here you go, create another fable, you wanted to”.

Here, they’re asking why an addict or person they’re judging is leaving behind their keys. Then, they say that they were doing this to create another story, just as they always do. Again, the band is narrating how these people are judged — even though they shouldn’t be.

13. “Drive” by Miley Cyrus

In Miley Cyrus’ 2013 song “Drive”, she talks about a romantic relationship that seems to be coming to an end. She’s having issues with her partner. However, she still wants to be with him — even though she feels that he doesn’t want to be with her.

She sings, “Drive my heart into the night / You could drop the keys off in the morning (In the morning) / ‘Cause I don’t wanna leave home / Without your love, without it”.

14. “All That’s Left” by Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert’s 2014 song “All That’s Left”, which features Time Jumpers, also discusses keys! In this song, Lambert talks about divorce. She’s ready for this person to fully leave her life. So, he arrives to take all his things out of the home that they once shared.

As a result, Lambert sings, “There’s the door, there’s your car, here’s the keys / And all that’s left for you to do is leave”.

15. “Been Down So Long” by The Doors

The Doors released their song “Been Down So Long” on their 1971 album L.A. Woman. In this song, singer Jim Morrison discusses how he’s been down so long that now everything seems up to him. He also discusses the various arrests that have been plaguing him recently.

When talking about these arrests, he sings, “I said, warden, warden, warden / Won’t you break your lock and key”.

16. “You’re the Key to My Heart” by The Isley Brothers

In The Isley Brothers’ 1979 song “You’re the Key to My Heart”, the band sings a classic love song. The singer discusses how the woman he’s met holds the key to his heart. She is good for him, and he knows that he can trust her!

17. “String Bean Jean” by Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian’s 1997 song “String Bean Jean” also talks about keys! In this song, the singer discusses how he used to live with a girl named Jo, one of his roommates in college. Though he never explains what happened to Jo, it appears she suffers from anorexia, and the song leads you to believe something terrible happened to her.

In the chorus, the singer feels guilty and talks about what he felt he had to do, which includes keys. He sings, “I had to leave them in the morning / I left the keys around the way”.

18. “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart and Throw Away the Key” by Etta Jones

Etta Jones’ song “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart and Throw Away the Key” follows Jones as she ends a romantic relationship. This person has done her wrong. As a result, Jones sings that she’s done with love. She’s never going to open her heart up to anybody again!

19. “Shut Up and Drive” by Rihanna

Rihanna’s 2007 song “Shut Up and Drive” finds Rihanna explaining that she’s looking for a romantic relationship, all while discussing her car and driving. So, if a man can win her over, she will give him the keys.

20. “It Ain’t Easy” by Blake Shelton

Finally, we’ve got Blake Shelton’s 2016 song “It Ain’t Easy”, which appears on his album If I’m Honest. In this song, Shelton sings about how he finds it difficult to leave his romantic partner. He doesn’t want to leave her anymore. He wants to be with her all the time, if he can.

Shelton sings the lyrics, “I hate picking up my keys / I hate kissing you goodbye”. So, he wants to make their relationship a bit more serious, whether this means living together or getting married, as he hates leaving her now!