Friday, December 2, 2011

Lyrical Genius

I love lyrics.  To me, the lyrics are the most essential part of a song.  This is not to say that I don't appreciate a good guitar riff or a heart-thumping drum, because I do.  Pearl Jam's "Yellow Ledbetter" is a perfect example of a song that pulls (rips) at your heartstrings even though 90% of the lyrics are completely unintelligible.  And it's cool, I love that song, but I much prefer a song I can sing along with. 

The lyrics are almost always the part of a song I'm first attracted to.  So much so that a single line in a song - a single crafty, clever, perfect line can attract me to a song like a moth to a flame.  That's all it takes, one line, and if it's good enough and hits me just right, it can inspire me to look into an artist's entire catalogue in search of other moments of awesome.
I have some examples of lines that have caught my attention and drawn me in.  Sometimes that one line was all I found and I ended up abandoning my search, but other times, that single line led me to an entire world of amazing. 

Neon Trees - "Animal"
"Take a bite of my heart tonight." - I heard this one line in passing on the radio one day and became obsessed with hearing the song again.  I finally did and identified the artist and immediately bought their debut album Habits.  I didn't find any more lyrics on this record that struck me like that line, but the whole thing is catchy as hell and I really like it.  It is not in my usual vein with the synth and general '80's pop feeling, but Tyler Glenn is totally into it and I dig that.  They have a new one coming out 12/07/11 (which seems quick to me, but what do I know?), I look forward to hearing what they have to offer this time.

3 Doors Down - "Kryptonite"
"You took for granted all those times I never let you down." - I admit, the title of this song drew me in, but this line talked me into staying.  I only own a few songs by this band - I didn't find the substance this line promised me.  I love the songs I own, but they sound a lot like everyone else, you know what I mean?  They're good songs, I think they're a good band, but for the most part I'm content to just hear them on the radio and don't feel inclined to buy entire albums. 

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - "Breakdown"
"It's alright if you love me/It's alright if you don't/I'm not afraid of you runnin' away, honey/I get the feelin' you won't."
Ok, I admit it's not a single line, it's a whole verse, but it's Tom Petty!  I'm not sure if it's the actual words or the way he sings them, but I will skip back to the beginning and listen to this verse over and over and over (and over).  Love it.  After I heard this song, I was totally hooked on Tom Petty.

Toad the Wet Sprocket - "Walk on the Ocean"
"Somebody told me, this is the place/Where everything's better and everything's safe."
I first heard this song many years ago when it was new, so this is an early example of my lyric obsession.  This band has an overall unique, intriguing sound that I really like, but their lyrics are clever and intelligent too, which is a rare gift.

The Script - "Breakeven (Falling to Pieces)"
"Still alive but I'm barely breathing/Just prayed to a god that I don't believe in."
I heard this line and knew immediately that I'd own the song.  I do, and one other by them.  I like their new release too, so maybe someday I'll buy an entire album.

Matt Nathanson - "Queen of (K)nots" & "Bottom of the Sea"
Since Modern Love was the first album of his that I owned, it was the one that got me.  I was caught with "Cause you're someone else's baby, yeah you're someone else's crazy now" in "Queen of (K)nots", then he set the hook with "I'm tired of getting even, let's get odd, odd, baby" in "Bottom of the Sea".  This is prime example of a lyric that led me to a whole world of genius.

So my point here is this, if you hear a line that catches your attention, don't ignore it.  Go with it.  Find out what the song is, who the artist is, see if there is more where that came from.  Sometimes, there isn't.  But other times, your mind will be blown.

No comments:

Post a Comment