Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Lost Art of Lyrics

It occurred to me this week whilst (yeah, I say whilst. Try it, you'll like it) we were driving home and jamming to the radio that lyric writing is quickly becoming a lost art.

At the very least it's playing hide and seek. It's face is on a few milk cartons. That's all I'm saying.

This thought came to me while we heard two currently overplayed tunes that are, ahem, on the iPods of a few, ahem, friends of mine. They'll argue that Willie Nelson is on mine, but I maintain that he is, in fact, a working mans poet.

But I digress. The songs in question are One Directions "What Makes You Beautiful" and 'insert random pop princesses name here's "Call Me Maybe".

Sweet lord. Is this what we've come to?  These are our modern day troubadours? 

We've gone from this:

"Maybe I didn't love you, Quite as often as I should have.  And maybe I didn't treat you, Quite as well as I could have, If I made you feel second best, Girl I'm sorry I was blind.  You were always on my mind." -Elvis/Willie (had to include some Willie ;)

"Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down." -Simon & Garfunkel

"Yesterday, All my troubles seemed so far away, Now it looks as though they're here to stay.." -The Beatles

"In my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be." -The Beatles

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose, Nothing ain't worth nothin', but its free." -Kris Kristopherson

"Imagine all the people, Living for today." -Lennon

"Freedom? Well that's just some people talking.  Your prison is walking through this world all alone."
-The Eagles

"There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed.  Some forever, not for better.  Some have gone and some remain." -The Beatles

To this:
"The way that you whip your hair gets me overwhelmed"

"I just met you.  And this is crazy.  But here's my number.  So call me maybe."

This is a sad commentary on our times.  And not only are MANY of today's lyrics insipid and uninspired they are also repetitive.  Over and over and over.  Same words.  Oy.

I'm not saying I haven't fallen prey to bubble gum pop.  (I was in high school during the rise of boy bands for Pete's sake) It's catchy, the beats are good and the lyrics, however mundane will burn themselves onto your brain.  But in 10, 20, 50+ years are people really going to remember where they were when they heard these songs or how they made them feel.  Doubtful.  Very doubtful.  But the old standards I've listed above will stand the test of time and thankfully, there are artists out there that strive to meet some basic standards.  That try for some meaning, feeling and, dare I say it, poetry.

Some current lines that pass the test, for me, and leave this listener feeling or thinking or (yes, I'm a sap) crying?

"I got a gypsy soul to blame and I was born for leaving." -Zac Brown Band

"You and tequila make me crazy.  Run like poison in my blood.  One more night could kill me baby.  One is one too many, One more is never enough." -Kenny Chesney

"The stars are blazin' like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun." -The Killers

"All of this around us'll fall over, I tell you what we're gonna do, Hey you will shelter me my love and I will shelter you." -Ray LaMontagne

"Next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior, Standing on my own two feet." -Adele

"A man needs something he can hold onto, A nine pound hammer or a woman like you, Either one of them things will do." -Ray LaMontagne

They give me hope.  Perhaps lyric writing is not dead.  But I think sometimes, like so many other things in our lives, the rush to make the CD, to make the money, produce the records overshadows the artistry.  I'm glad there are some artists and songwriters out there that still strive 
What are some lyrics or songs that speak to you?  That get to you?

1 comment:

  1. I'm actually planning on purchasing that one direction album....

    For my 7 year old.