Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

rockwisdom
January 25, 2002 4:59 AM   Subscribe

rockwisdom Some people claim they never listen to the lyrics, while others listen intently. As they listen to lyrics, some words may be incoherent or misunderstood. Other listeners may not care to know what the words really mean or how they may impact society. Regardless, lyrics are important. They provide expression, communication, and entertainment. They are messages with the potential to be very powerful, and therefore, useful in making points in our daily discourse.
posted by Tarrama (36 comments total)

 
Deep.
posted by RavinDave at 5:24 AM on January 25, 2002


Please, lord, let us not equate musical lyrics with other truer forms of writing with actual deep insight into the world.
posted by owillis at 5:38 AM on January 25, 2002


I was gonna bite owillis' troll and rant and rail about all the deep and worthwhile lyrics I enjoy, but the fact is, without music, most of `em are pretty insipid.
posted by dong_resin at 5:56 AM on January 25, 2002


`Cept for Neil Diamond, of course.
posted by dong_resin at 5:57 AM on January 25, 2002


Hmmm. The very first quote provided, topping this guy's "100 best" is from that philosopher-bard G. Brooks: "A dream is like a river ever changing as it flows, and a dreamer's just a vessel that must follow where it goes." There are plenty of memorable lyrics, but that one just about defines forgettable.
posted by BT at 6:05 AM on January 25, 2002


Since I rarely get the lyrics right (hence singing in the car alone) I found this site helpful. I Can Hear Ya Fred is ACTUALLY Why Can't We Be Friends??? Whodda thunk it??
posted by Mutha at 6:11 AM on January 25, 2002


"YO YO YO! Put yo hands in da aaair like you just don' caaare!" Wisdom indeed.
posted by frednorman at 6:13 AM on January 25, 2002


you have to realize that no matter what kind of music, what type of lyrics, and what state of mind you are in, you are affected on a deeper level by music/lyrics.
posted by wesgrimes at 6:43 AM on January 25, 2002


Your favorite lyrics suck.
posted by whuppy at 6:47 AM on January 25, 2002


Your favorite band sucks, too. (Credit: The Onion t-shirt)
posted by whuppy at 6:48 AM on January 25, 2002


Lorenz Hart, anyone? Ira Gershwin? P.G. Wodehouse, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin? Schiller? Goethe?
posted by Faze at 6:54 AM on January 25, 2002


Thinking that music lyrics are a source of wisdom is like getting relationship guidance from soap operas.
posted by yesster at 7:04 AM on January 25, 2002


The problem with song lyrics is that 99 percent of anything is trash. However unlike the trash that's published in print and left thankfully forgotten in obscure zines, and independently published books molding away on the bookshelf, musical trash is piped into your car, your grocery store, and often your workplace.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:20 AM on January 25, 2002


Faze: I'm with you on your list of great lyricists. Don't forget Yip Harburg!
posted by Carol Anne at 7:37 AM on January 25, 2002


Not all lyrics are vapid. Some subjects lend themselves to extensive discussion. Take Bob for example.
posted by ColdChef at 7:51 AM on January 25, 2002


"Still they're invincible,
Still they're immune to all our herbicidal battering."
-Return of the Giant Hogweed by Genesis

I have yet to find a better song that contains the phrase "herbicidal battering."
posted by mrhappy at 8:01 AM on January 25, 2002


"Kiss me where the sun don't shine \ The past was yours but the future's mine"

She Bangs the Drums - Stone Roses
posted by brettski at 8:07 AM on January 25, 2002


Yeah. The idea that lyrics cannot be insightful is a bit elitist pretentious narrowminded. For one thing, it discounts the millions of people who have been deeply affected by the content of a song.

Hell, we were just talking about Leonard Cohen the other day, and while the context may not be the most convincing, the story about how his zen buddhist master told him that listening to his new album was like meditating for a week might be. Unless the 80 year old buddhist was actually a corporate shill for Sony. Hard to say for sure.

Or, I dunno, how about Bob Dylan getting nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature like.. what.. 128 times? And all those college lit courses they teach about his work?

I mean, this is all just incidental to the point, which is that it's nuts to think that there is an unassailable gap separating good poetry and good lyrics. If you think that poetry is meaningless, that would be another story.
posted by Hildago at 8:45 AM on January 25, 2002


i have found that in some forms of music the quality and message of the lyrics is as important as the music. this applies to brazillian and cuban music, as well as hip-hop (IMHO).
i suppose folk music (as we call our indigenous music in the west) is more focused on the subject and meaning of a song than the popular beat combos of the billboard charts.
personally, i like the sounds as much as the meaning. so, yes, can are a good band in my opinion.
(sorry, no links as acccessing via adamisanotalentassclown)
posted by asok at 8:55 AM on January 25, 2002


"I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused..."
-Elvis Costello
posted by jonmc at 9:14 AM on January 25, 2002


i suppose folk music (as we call our indigenous music in the west) is more focused on the subject and meaning of a song than the popular beat combos of the billboard charts.

{begin sarcasm} Well, the beat and rhythm didn't mean much in old blues, that's for sure. {end sarcasm}
posted by raysmj at 9:22 AM on January 25, 2002


And if and when lyrics are listened to...many times incorrectly.
"...S'cuse me while I kiss this guy."- Hendrix
posted by ooogiebooogie at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2002


"You play with words
you play with love
you can twist it around baby
that ain't enough
cause girl I'm gonna know
if you're letting me
in or letting me go"

-Hall and Oates
posted by brand-gnu at 10:34 AM on January 25, 2002


How about something timely?

"But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more. "


-- John Prine
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:54 AM on January 25, 2002


She's my only true love
she's all that I think of
look here in my wallet
that's her
She grew up on a farm there
there's a place on my arm
where I've written her name
next to mine
you see I just can't
live without her
and I'm her only boy
and she grew up outside McHenry
in Johnsburg, Illinois


-Tom Waits, Johnsburg, Illinois


That's poetry and that's powerful as far as I'm concerned.

There are great novelists, there are great poets and there are great lyricists. To dismiss lyrics out of hand as being vapid is akin to dismissing novels. They vary from Eco to Collins as much as song lyrics vary from Tiffany to Dylan.

Songs can be very powerful. "Rise" by Public Image comes to mind. or "Cherry Blossoms" by Tindersticks.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:11 AM on January 25, 2002


Some folks'll never eat a skunk,
Then again, some folks'll
Like Cletus,
The slackjawed yokel.

Most folks'll never lose a toe,
And then again some folks'll,
Like Cletus,
The slackjawed yokel.

posted by swift at 11:12 AM on January 25, 2002


Please, lord, let us not equate musical lyrics with other truer forms of writing with actual deep insight into the world.

Yeah, damn that opera!

I used to like Rush's "Territories" a lot. "They shoot without shame in the name of a piece of dirt." "The whole wide world, an endless universe, yet they keep looking through the eyeglass in reverse." OK, they're not as deep as I thought they were at 18, but they're not at all bad.
posted by kindall at 12:22 PM on January 25, 2002


"At A Medium Pace"

Put your arms around me baby
Can't you see I need you so
Hold me close against your skin
I'm about to begin
Lovin' you

- by Adam Sandler



*sniff* Poetry.
posted by hellinskira at 1:32 PM on January 25, 2002


Oh come on kindall -

Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw


That's deep. A little overly Randian perhaps, but a cautionary tale none the less.
posted by willnot at 2:11 PM on January 25, 2002


No light fantastic ever crosses my mind
That meditation stuff can make you go blind
Just crank that music to the point of pain
Why waste good music on a brain


Words to live by...
posted by modofo at 2:15 PM on January 25, 2002


i like cheesy lyrics mainly, but some lines from leonard cohen stick in my head.


---
It's hard to hold the hand of any man
who is reaching for the sky just to surrender
---


---
Like any dealer he was watching for the card
that is so high and wild
he'll never need to deal another
---


---
As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill
So my body leaves no scar
On you and never will
---
posted by selton at 3:58 PM on January 25, 2002


Yeah, "The Trees" is probably a better example of what I was talking about re: Rush. I got into them well after that song, though, so it didn't spring to mind...
posted by kindall at 4:13 PM on January 25, 2002


i hate music
its got too many notes

- the replacements
posted by tsarfan at 5:18 PM on January 25, 2002


Hold me closer, Tony Danza.
-- Elton John
posted by Allen Varney at 11:03 PM on January 25, 2002


I love song lyrics. Even cheesy song lyrics. I've found the Barenaked Ladies song "Enid" to describe an important part of my life better than anything I've come across in a literature class :) And then there's always Bob Dylan, some of it's so beautiful I can only sitt here in awe...
posted by dagnyscott at 3:04 PM on January 26, 2002


Kafkaesque's example is perfect, in my opinion. One's instinct when writing about the woman you love is to gush and get melodramatic and use all kinds of stupid metaphors. Poetry is about restraint, implication, delicate structure. Which was Waits going for? Man, I love that song.
posted by Hildago at 3:05 PM on January 26, 2002


« Older Is this a real chance at campaign finance reform...  |  George Saunders imagines the f... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments