"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." Elvis Costello
Words and Music Part 2
A Celebration of the Lyric
We’re usually drawn to a song at first because of the way it sounds, as in the melody or the beat, and how that makes us feel. But for some, the song lyrics hold an equally important place, and when they’re clever or meaningful or insightful, or just strung together really, really well, they make it just that much better. Kind of a bonus, like a supermodel who’s also a Marshall Scholar. What follows are a few of our favorites, very subjectively chosen, that make us smile just a little every time we hear them. It puts us in mind of Paul Stookey, who famously wrote the line “I think I could say somethin', if you know what I mean”.
Even before he was the Nobel Prize winner, Dylan would have come first on this list. Problem is how do you choose? Here’s just one, from “Visions of Johanna”, that will have to suffice:
Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin’ you to defy it
I’ve always had a fondness for writers who manage to rhyme impossibly difficult words and make it look easy. Take this example from John Hiatt’s “Ride Along”:
Sometimes that girl she'll slip you a kiss
But she's just another somnambulist
What were you doing in 1979? We were bopping to lines like this, courtesy of Rickie Lee Jones:
He learn all of the lines, and every time he
don't stutter when he talk
And it's true! It's true! He sure is acquired a
cool and inspired sorta jazz when he walk
Finally, lest you think we’re just mining the distant past, one of our favorite albums from 2015 was Kintsugi, by Death Cab for Cutie. Just the meaning of the title itself is tragically hip, but check out these lyrics from the song "Binary Sea" - a love song for the digital age:
Oh come my love and swim with me
Out in this vast Binary Sea
Zeros and ones patterns appear
They'll prove to all that we were here
We could go on and on, but why don't you think of your favorite lyrics and send them to us at email@example.com, and we'll include them in a future post.