Rediscovering lyrics.

June 27, 2008

I’ll be honest.  I could never stand Bob Dylan.  I know his songs are brilliant, I love how Dave Matthews Band does All Along the Watchtower.  I just can’t stand Bob Dylan’s voice.

The reason I say all this is because I’ve also been known to turn off a catchy song with a great melody because the lyrics are retarded.  The first time this happened was about five years ago with a (surprise, surprise) Limp Bizkit song.  Since then it has happened more frequently.

I still can’t listen to songs, no matter how good the lyrics, with poor production value.  I need hooky music, but I’ve also come to appreciate the need for good lyrics.  I’ve discovered a few lyricists who I like and thought I would point them out.  In no particular order…

John Mayer,
The first song of his that popped into my head was “Stop this train,” a song that reflects the fears of getting older that even I sometimes feel.  The line “So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young” resonates with me.

Aaron Marsh, from Copeland.
I’m not really a huge Copeland fan they are ok, just not my style.  However I’ve just discovered “I’m a sucker for a kind word” which is fantastic.  The money line for me is “On the softness of her laugh I could almost make my bed but the racket of her absence draw in the sirens blaring.”  A very poignant line.

Ben Gibbard, Death Cab for Cutie
This is another band I’ve been off and on with.  I’m sorry I missed them in Toronto recently.  Their lyrics are frequently, profoundly sad.  In Your New Twin Sized bed he talks about someone who has gotten rid of a queen sized mattress in exchange for a double, believing they’d be alone.
You look so defeated lying there
In your new twin sized bed
With a single pillow
Underneath your single head

Strong but depressing stuff.  Brothers on a hotel bed is another such song. 
You may tire of me as our December sun is setting because I’m not who I used to be
No longer easy on the eyes but these wrinkles masterfully disguise
The youthful boy below who turned your way and saw
Something he was not looking for: both a beginning and an end

Finally, for this post, I need to throw in Dave Matthews.  Possibly my favorite contemporary lyricist.  It’s hard to pick a single song.  I would have to post all Grave Digger here so instead I’ll point you to it on Youtube.  The first stanza of Dodo is also incredible.
Once upon a time
When the world was just a pancake
Fears would arise
That if you went too far, you’d fall

But with the
Passage of time
It all became more of a ball
We’re as sure of that
As we all once were when the world was flat

Any thoughts?  Any lyricists you think deserve mention?  By no means do I believe this list is comprehensive.  These are just a few people who came to mind.


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