Sunday, April 20, 2008

I (don't) write the songs that make the whole world sing.

Last weekend while Scott & I were driving home from Atlanta, I took the opportunity to play what I refer to as " iPod Jukebox." We rocked out to Van Halen & Nickelback, chilled to some Michael Buble and Harry Connick, Jr., got our twang on with George Strait and Vince Gill, and officially welcomed the warmer weather with our outdoor favorites, The Beach Boys, the Beatles, and The Temptations. Just before pulling into town I switched over to Duran Duran, both their old school stuff and their latest release. As a kid I was obsessed with their tune, "The Reflex," and was pretty much doing a great (in my own mind, that is!) karaoke version of it, while Scotty kept his eyes on the road, wishing I'd return to King George so that he could give his own performance. There's a line in "The Reflex" that goes, "I'm on a ride and I wanna get off..." I told Scotty, "You know for Simon Le Bon and company, that's a pretty deep lyric." Obviously he did not want to dissect the lyricisim of Duran Duran because he pretty much ignored me...and said, "Hey, go back to George Strait--we're almost home!"

All last week various songs popped into my head. This is not a new trend, as music is a central part of my world. (Until my pastor preached on solitude and quietness this morning--thanks, Rusty--now I'll feel guilty all week!) Yet this time, I specifically thought of songs containing lyrics that just slay me...or prompt my brain to work on overtime...or move me to smiles or tears. I've often said that there are some songs so deep I just want to dive in for a while...tread water 'til I've gotten my fill of brilliant words penned to music. I admire songwriters and poets. Imagine a world without music, novels, screenplays, stage productions, sitcoms. Yeah, it'd be pretty bland and boring, and when have those two adjectives ever met with glowing reviews?

Here's a short list (hooray--another list--y'all know me and lists!) of lyrics that I really dig, for various reasons. Dive in...tread water...see what you think.

"Are you drowning or waving?" from Bush's "Out of this World." Tell me this doesn't paint a picture for ya and I'll call you bonkers to your face. It's so deep I can't even go into it...

"I'm the chill that never left your spine..." from Quarterflash's "Take Me to Heart." A brutal reminder...yeah, you may have moved on, but don't ever think for a moment that I'm far from your mind.

"Kiss me, please kiss me...kiss me out of desire, babe, and not consolation..." from "Last Goodbye" by Jeff Buckley. It's the pleading that gets me...begging for smoochies freely given, rather than offered as a parting prize. Plus this is just a darn fine piece of musical genius, by that lyrical genius himself, Mr. Buckley...may he rest in peace.

"High time we made a stand and shook up the views of the common man..." from "Sowing the Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears. Political ramblings aside (the basis for the entire song, that is), I love this song, particularly the opening lyric. I like the thought of rocking the views of the average saying, "Evolution is whack!" Because, you know, I am not afraid of controversy.

"My words are paper tigers, no match for the predator of pain inside her..." from "Love Will Come to You," by the Indigo Girls. At the age of 17, I was completely convinced that every song written by Amy Ray & Emily Saliers directly related to my angst in some form or fashion. These girls are poets in the purest sense. While I don't respect their lifestyle preferences, I still maintain my fan status. I mean, come on..."my words are paper tigers?" That's just good, y'all. Mull it over a while.

"A rock feels no pain..and an island never cries." from my all-time faves, Simon & Garfunkel, in "I Am A Rock." One line from an entire song of brilliance...oh, the pain...the solitude...the agony. "If I never loved I never would've cried." How many times have we all said this at some point in our lives?

"Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door...who is it for?" The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby. As a kid this lyric haunted me. A face in a jar? And you know I immediately thought of it upon first viewing of Silence of the Lambs! When I got old enough to get it, I got it. Another loneliness reference...gee, notice a theme here? I must've had issues with self-imposed solitude or something. Thanks, Scotty, for taking that away.

"You hold the percentage, but I'm the fool paying the dues..." from "Hold Me" by Fleetwood Mac. A love song fully devoid of sap and cheese, "Hold Me" is tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted. And this particular lyric? Hilarious.

"If confession is the road to healing, forgiveness is the promised land." from DC Talk's "Between You and Me." Honestly, one of the most beautiful, profound, and truthful pieces of songwriting. Ever. The men of DC Talk (who no longer perform together, but are each charting solo--and I await the day we'll see the trio reunited!) are, in my opinion, the most talented to ever roam the halls of the World's Most Exciting Christian University. (Do you even have to ask? Yeesh, ok...Liberty University, my alma mater, of course!) Everytime I hear the song I can barely make it past this particular lyric...because they're singing about a promise I don't deserve. But the Truth of it is what makes me grateful I've received it. Now I'm off to wade in this one some more.

These are just some of the specific lyrics I mulled over the past few days. There are many more, of course...but this is already longer than intended, so I'll hush soon!

Here's some homework for y'all; I'm interested in YOUR thoughts on this subject matter. Send me lines from songs that slay you, create deep thoughts, or just make you happy, for whatever reason. I love, love, love music...all kinds...and I love, love, love talking about it. Maybe we should all just gather 'round our computers, Coca-Colas in hand, while gushing, "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." Or we could at least have a campfire sing-a-long..."Kumbaya," anyone?

Finally, I close with one of my favorite lyrics of all time. It's crass, obnoxious, and true on many levels. And right about now, Scott & Suzanne are nodding their heads in mild horror and complete approval: from "Yeah!" by Usher, Lil' John and Ludacris...

"We want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed!"



Anonymous said...

I'm listening to Harry Connick, etc. on Pandora Radio right now (another attempt to forego paying for radio) while sewing.

I'll have to think about the lyrics some more. I'm too tired right now. I'm just not as entrenched in the music...wish I was.

Oh, are we allowed to make fun of Shania Twain and her horrible song writing capabilities? She's got some of the dumbest lyrics every written. OH, did I just write that out loud?

Lula! said...

Vicki, you are SO correct in your Shania Twain assessment. Witness: every word in "Any Man of Mine." To be fair, her co-writer is usually Mutt Lange, her husband. Reckon they allow their love to up the cheese quotient? Because the woman in her needs the man in him. YUCK!!! :)

Anonymous said...
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Kelly said...

'in the end no one can sell you what you need. you can't buy it off the shelf, you got to grow it from the seed.' chris smither, 'no love today'

Pinky Roth said...

I cannot remember the lyrics like you, so I cannot send any!


Anonymous said...

I always thought Terri Gibbs was pretty clever in her lyrics with "Somebody's Knockin'". "Somebody's knocking, should I let him in. Lord it's the devil. Would you look at him?"..."He says we'll have one heavenly night. My fever's burning so he ought to be right at home." Whoah! Why did my parents let me listen to that!?!?

Also: Natalie Merchant has had some good stuff. Jennifer Nettles has had really deep lyrics, when singing solo as the Jennifer Nettles Band and before that with Soul Miner's Daughter.

TheRightWife said...

"Well it's full speed baby
In the wrong direction
There's a few more bruises
If that's the way
You insist on heading"

Maryjane, Alanis Morissette


Debbie said...

OK, first it was Captain And Tenille that we had in common now it is the Indigo Girls. I love them. I think they are brilliant songwriters. The first time I saw them in concert, I commented that I couldn't believe how many women were there. I really had no idea until one of my friends clued me in. I'm so naive. Now about the line from a song that just slays soon as I read this post, I immediately thought of Jeremy Camp and Nichole Nordeman. Everything thing they write just gets to me...especially "Would you take the place of this man, Would you take the nails from His hands?" from Jeremy Camp's song "This Man." That song and that line run through my head all the time. It does, as you described, slay me.

Oh Oh, I just noticed that you live in Virginia. I live in Northern Virginia!!