Songs are important. How come? Because they’re so trivial. Let me unpack that for a second. See if I can conjure some sense out of it. Songs are ubiquitous, all around, every time you go into the store, turn on the radio, put on your headphones, watch TV, whatever. So they’re ever present, and thus, oft overlooked or only taken in by one’s subconscious. So what are we listening to?
My taste in music is changeable to say the least. But there are stalwarts, things that are always good. It’s better to listen to good music, because you don’t want mindless drivel pouring into your ear holes if you can help it.
I won’t comment on melodies or chord structures. This frigging thing is about words, remember? So let’s have a look at some lyrics.
These are just examples, so take it easy, even if they seem dated. I could go after the inane bile dripping from the likes of Maroon 5 or Taylor Swift or Beyonce, but that’s too easy. Low hanging fruit and all.
Here’s something from Coldplay. Remember when they were popular? The song Clocks was named one of the 500 greatest songs of all time. The lyrics are called “cryptic” and “metaphorical.” Nope. They’re meaningless. They fill syllabic holes so that there can be a guy saying something. Tell me what it’s about:
“Lights go out and I can’t be saved, tides that I tried to swim against…” I won’t go on, because it’s a bunch of words shoved together that form some sort of nebulous narrative. What’s the story? How are you feeling, Coldplay? I like the little fourth grade piano hook too (wish I was simple enough to think that would work) but for God’s sake, I can’t remember the lyrics because they’re not about anything.
This is a good test. If lyrics stick with you, it’s because they’re either really good or really simple. This Coldplay nonsense is just that—nonsense. It’s like trying to remember what your two-year-old said to you last week. Hard to do, because there’s no logic in it.
We can argue that everybody has different taste, but that’s not what I’m talking about. You may not like the songwriter Damien Rice’s music, but give it an honest listen and tell me it’s not well done. Dare you. Here’s the first verse and chorus of his very first record. Most nerds know this song, it’s called Delicate.
We might kiss when we are alone
We might take it home
We might make out when nobody's there
It's not that we're scared
It's just that it's delicate
So why do you fill my sorrow
With the words you've borrowed
From the only place you've know
And why do you sing Hallelujah
If it means nothing to you
Why do you sing with me at all?
Immediately I get it. Dude’s trying to hook up. The word delicate is a perfect word, it’s somehow a forbidden love, but he doesn’t want to use language that harsh. Because the frigging situation is delicate, so is his language. Paints a wonderful picture. She’s singing Hallelujah and he just wants to “sing.” Pretty sure that means get it on, but it’s debatable. Point is, we get it. It’s not overly simple. You have to listen to really understand his point of view, it’s beautiful on a surface and deeper level. Pick how you imbibe it.
Tell me I listen too closely. I’ll tell you I only listen because it’s something worth listening to. Cheers maniacs. Go jam out. I recommend the new T-Swift single. By that, I mean you should pull a Van Gogh before you do that to yourself.
See you after.