October 10, 2010 by jessperriam
I’m a loser for lyrics. Absolute loser. When I listen to music, I listen to it as much (if not more) for the words as I listen for the rhythm and the beat.
But ok, how’s this: as I type this bit I have Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass making merry music in my Sennheisers. So clearly I like the music… but better when it’s separated from the lyrics. I’m that easily distracted.
And this week has been one of those weeks where I’ve grasped for the lyrics, regardless of the mood I’m in.
The Weekend Australian Magazine had a picture piece on some of the worst lyrics, but I thought I’d go the other way and show you some lyrics that are brilliant for clever, sentimental or thought-provoking reasons:
1. Lyrics that go around in a circle but work out ok in the end
“Only the lonely will tell you they’re happy to be on their own when they’re singing along to the songs that remind them of times when they weren’t quite as happy to be on their own.” – Basement Birds: Reasons
This is took me a few listens to hear what they were saying; then think about it and understand it. It paints a beautiful picture of loneliness.
2. Singing in the second person point of view, making wild accusations but blaming it on the people around you.
“They swore you’d steal my steam to feed your dream and then be gone / I wish I could say that everyone was wrong.” – Ben Lee: Cigarettes Will Kill You.
I love the angst and anguish that was floating around as a common theme in Australia’s late ’90s / early ’00s music scene. In fact, so much so that I remember grouping them all together into a genre called ‘Sad Bastard Music’. No wonder I felt melancholy for no good reason in my late teens….
3. Lyrics that you can sing to your friends and they won’t get offended because they see their friends through the same rose-tinted glasses.
“You sound like Louis Burdett and all my friends are fuck ups but they’re fun to have around.” – The Whitlams: You Sound Like Louis Burdett
Oh come on! Everyone has Louis Burdetts in their lives… I think everyone has a little bit of Louis in them. This is the lyrical version of “I love you man… just because you’re you.”
4. Lyrics that have a lot of theatrics to it, preferably with an old-school Western theme.
“What did you say your name was?/ Jack!/ Never done jack/ Glad to meet you, who’s your friend?/ Dick./ I don’t say Dick/ What do you know and you, friend, what’s your handle?/ Don! Two thumbs don!” – William Shatner: Has Been
You probably need to listen to the song to get how hilarious this is… there are different voices for each character in the song. Yeah… definitely need to listen to this one to get it.
5. Lyrics that are really easy to remember.
“Woo hoooooo.” – Blur: Song 2 (and) The 5,6,7,8s: Woo Hoo
Ok, so more onomatopoeia than real, actual lyrics. But you can sing along. In the car. In the pub. In the shower, with no risk of people laughing at you because you don’t know the words. So there.
6. But on the flipside, there are lyrics that are hilarious because they are so easily misheard.
“All of us stand and point our fingers” – Eskimo Joe: Black Fingernails, Red Wine.
This is one of my favourite lyrics because I mishear it to be “I don’t understand the point of fingers,” every single time.