The Black Keys (Lonely Boy): Real Life Music

black keys cover“Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” (Plato)

How does music make you feel? Let me guess…calm, relaxed, open minded?

How does learning about English structure and grammar make you feel? Let me guess…
stressed, overwhelmed, uninterested and probably pretty restricted because of all the rules and structures you have to remember.

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Well, if you can associate yourself with BOTH of these examples, then you are probably like most other people, and think of language learning as something that you have to study theoretically and understand all the rules and structures, similar to a subject like math or science.

At the start of any language learning experience, I agree with the traditional methods, you should take the structured and more theoretical path. But this path is very limited and when you reach the end you have to start thinking of English not as something you study like a subject, but as something you feel and can interact with, like music.

From my experiences with language learning, listening to music has been the best way to make that transition from understanding a language as a subject to something that is more intuitive; something I can feel.

With all that in mind, let’s move on to the main subject of this article.

Today you are going to learn (and feel, hehe) with the band “The Black Keys” and their awesome song, “Lonely Boy.”

Just with this one song you can drastically increase your vocabulary, sing along, and work your pronunciation and flow, see all that grammar and those structural things you may have already learnt about, and understand what the singer is expressing with his lyrics.

Who Are The Black Keys?black keys 1

The Black Keys are an American rock band, formed in Ohio in 2001. The band is a duo made up of Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). They began independently after dropping out (leaving before graduating) of college, and since then have conquered the world with their unique rock/blues sound.

Vocabulary before you listen

Before listening to the song lets familiarize ourselves with the lyrics. Here are some words/expressions I would assume English learner to have problems with:

Above you – Higher than you, superior
Plain to see – It’s very obvious and easy to notice
Came to see – Was able to see gradually after time
I don’t mind – It doesn’t bother me *If followed by a verb we use the continuous
Tear out- To take out in a fast and careless manner *generally for painful situations
Any old time- Any time *using “old” is just a common colloquial expression with the same meaning

Lonely Boy


Now it’s time for you to sing along!

Well I’m so above you
And it’s plain to see
But I came to love you anyway
So you tore my heart out
And I don’t mind bleeding
Any old time to keep me waiting
Waiting, waiting

Oh, oh-oh I got a love that keeps me waiting
Oh, oh-oh I got a love that keeps me waiting
I’m a lonely boy
I’m a lonely boy
Oh, oh-oh I got a love that keeps me waiting

Well your mama kept you but your daddy left you
And I should’ve done you just the same
But I came to love you
Any old time you keep me waiting
Waiting, waiting

Repeat chorus x2

black keys 2Grammar Hints and Tips: How to use “should have”

In the lyrics you’ll see how he has used the expression  “and I should’ve done you just the same.”  The word should is generally used to give people advice or suggest that something is a good idea. For example,

  • “you should stop smoking” advice
  • “Hey, we should go grab a beer” a good idea

When we use the modal perfect “should have” we are now referring to something that we did or didn’t do in the past, which we now regret. For example,

  • “I should have gone to the party” (I didn’t go and now regret it)
  • “I shouldn’t have spoken to him like that” (regrets speaking in that way)

This structure is sometimes a little hard to hear in English because the sound of “HAVE” becomes very subtle and sounds like we are just sayin “DUV” as it takes on the sound of the last D. Try repeating these words.


– Shoo’duv = Should have / Should’ve
– Woo’duv = Would have / would’ve
– Coo’duv = Could have /  could’ve

*We never write the words like this, I have done this just to show you how the words are generally pronounced in spoken English. Learn more about pronunciation here

Call To Action

If you are you one of those people who has studied English for a long time, but still don’t feel like you can speak the language, then It’s probably because you haven’t experienced the language as anything more than just a subject you are studying to get a good job or pass a test.

If you want to really understand the language you have to be more engaged with it, which is understandably difficult if you live in a non-English speaking country, which is why you have to find alternative ways to interact in English.

Singing your favorite songs and finding the meaning of the lyrics are some great ways to do this. Another great way is by connecting to the Real Life English facebook community where you can interact with more than 4,500 English learner and teachers from all around the world.

Help others and share your favorite songs and tips on this post or the RLE community NOW!!

Other Versions

If you enjoyed this song, check out this version which was recorded by Australian artist Matt Corby.

  • Ethan Zinho says:

    Love this song and love this article, Chad! Way to go.

  • Diego says:

    Hey, Chad!

    Very good, man! Great article with rock’n’roll!

    Keep doing these types of posts, ok?