Song lyrics are one of the historical sources that historians have not adequately utilized. Such historical sources are considered to contain information on historical events. So far, song lyrics are considered the product of the songwriter's imagination, so they have no valid information. Song lyrics are similar to literary works such as poetry or prose. Literary experts argue that most literary works have references to actual events. Thus, both song lyrics and literary works can be used as alternative historical sources to complement official sources. The purpose of this study is to explore songs in Indonesia whose lyrics refer to actual events in history, even though the song is the product of the songwriter's imagination. The method used in this study is the historical method by selecting song lyrics that are considered to tell events and are associated with historical narratives in the context of a certain place and time. Most of those songs are ballads which are used as data sources. The results show several songwriters and ballad singers in Indonesia whose songs refer to actual events include Iwan Fals, Ebiet G. Ade, Rhoma Irama, and Benyamin Sueb. Their songs contain information about the reality of lower-class people living in Jakarta from 1950s to 1980s. Using song lyrics as a historical source will enrich historical narratives written by historians to contain psychological aspects as when the event occurred as written by the songwriters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-302
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Ballads
  • City
  • Historical sources
  • Indonesian history
  • Song lyrics


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