Sunday, September 09, 2007


(In Manassass with a very big gun)

I’ve previously mentioned my love of music and lyrics on this site. I’ve talked about theme songs and lyrics that circle a theme, namely breathing. But in an effort to hear from (and to determine if I have one) the blogosphere community at large, I’d like to talk about our favorite lyrics.

There are so many standouts that have textured my musical experience. One of my first musical preferences was for the songs of Cat Stevens. In addition to his evocative acoustical guitar (and pleasing physique), his lyrics often resonated with or haunted me. The irony and playfulness of Queen’s lyrics made me a rabid fan in my early to mid-teens. Lately The Decemberists, Dishwalla and Blue October keep me listening with their surprising takes. I’m always in wonder of the songwriter—that most elegant of craftspeople who can not only write poetry, but weave it into the entirely other world of sound.

Yesterday I was listening to Ani De Franco’s Untouchable Face, a favorite tune of mine, when I remembered how this section of the song always makes me hold my breath—the picture is so clearly drawn:

“2:30 in the morning and my gas tank will be empty soon
neon sign on the horizon rubbing elbows with the moon
safe haven of the sleepless where the deep fryer's always on
radio is counting down the top 20 country songs
out on the porch the fly strip is waving like a flag in the wind
you know i really don't look forward to seeing you again soon.”

When I hear Al Stewart’s song Year of the Cat this perfect lyric transports me back to my freshman year in High School and the colors, smells and sensations that surrounded me at age 14:
“On a morning from a Bogart movie, in a country where they turn back time,
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime.
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running like a watercolor in the rain.”

From Momus’ Marquis of Sadness (thanks Meredith), for anyone who KNOWS this professor, or has been captive of the impulse to categorically please:

“They've announced the new writer in residence
And the cleverest girls in the arts faculty
Must read poetry in his presence
And if our poems are bad
They'll still be evidence
Of our desire to make him desire us.”

And, from The Decemberists brilliant 16 Military Wives, utter tragedy juxtaposed against an upbeat tune that makes you want to dance:

“Seventeen company men
Out of which only twelve will make it back again
Sergeant sends a letter to five military wives
His tears drip down from ten little eyes
Cheer them on to their rivals
Because America can
And America can't say no
And America does
If America says it's so
It's so
And the anchorperson on TV
Goes la-di-da-di-da”
So I want to hear from you. Share some of your favorite lyrics. Why do you remember these particularly?