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TitsMcGhee's avatar

Who is/are your favorite lyricist(s)? What are some examples of why you find them brilliant?

Asked by TitsMcGhee (8263points) October 18th, 2009

I’m one of those people who finds the lyrics of a song of equal importance to the music they are sung to. I’m looking for lyricists that are poignant, brilliant, crafty, clever, sharp, poetic, etc., etc. Who are your favorites, and why? I would love to see your favorite specific quotations of theirs as well.

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68 Answers

jackm's avatar

Thriving Ivory
Lupe Fiasco
Brent Dennen
The Decemberists
Jason Mraz
Josh Joplin
Josh Ritter
Pink Floyd
The Shins

I bolded the ones who I think have even more incredible lyrics than the others. I would like to quote you some, but you just need to listen to them in context.Thats what youtube is for!

I am also a huge fan of lyrics.

Samurai's avatar

The lyrics I find at the beginning and ending of Japanese shows to be very wise.

Dr_C's avatar

Jason Mraz, Gordon Lightfoot, Freddy Mercury, Carla Bruni…. i give up. Too many.

MacBean's avatar

I tried so hard not to like Jason Mraz, but then I listened to his lyrics instead of just the music and became a fan. Bah.

The Decemberists win in my book, though. They tell some really awesome stories with their songs.

DarkScribe's avatar

There are far too many to list. Most of my preferred music is based on an appreciation of the lyrics – modern poetry in some ways.

This list is from my iTunes recently played list for the last few hours.

(You’d never guess that I was in my fifties – would you.)

Leonard Cohen, Carole King, the Carpenters, Dianna Krall, Jane Olivor, Laura Branigan, Billy Joel, Cat Stevens, CRC, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton & JJ Cale, Gerry Rafferty, Jim Croce, Melissa Manchester, Moody Blues, Pat Benatar, Roy Orbison, Boney M, Bread, The Doors, John lennon, Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Sting, 5th Dimension, Air Supply, ABBA, Bob Seger, Bonnie Tyler, Boston, Cassandra Wilson. Patricia Kaas.

drdoombot's avatar

Greg Graffin & Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion – The only punk band I listen to. Opened my eyes to many political and moral issues I had not considered.

Serj Tankian & Daron Malakian of System of a Down – Once again, they bring up interesting political and moral issues, but are much more poetic than the previous band. But, they also do goofy stuff; check out Pizza Pie and Vicinity of Obscenity to see what I mean.

Gavin Rossdale of Bush – His stuff mostly doesn’t make sense. Or rather, the snippets make sense, but usually not as a whole. Maybe I only like his lyrics because I got into the band at an emotional time in my life.

The Flaming Lips have some great lyrics on Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots; uplifting, heartbreaking, funny and nostalgic, all at the same time.

shrubbery's avatar

My most favourite are Death Cab for Cutie. Wow. They sing some powerfull stuff. Apparently they keep a running list over the year and write down the saddest things they see or hear about, to give them inspiration for their songs.

I also agree with the Shins, and there is some fascinating stuff about their lyrics on, especially about Wincing the Night Away.

I also also agree with Josh Ritter and Pink Floyd, and want to add William Fitzsimmons, Angus & Julia Stone, The Beautiful Girls, Bon Iver, Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse, Patrick Park, Regina Spektor, Sarah Blasko, Shout Out Louds, and The Whitlams.

As you can see by the alphabetical order I just went down my iTunes :P

But all of these bands seem to draw on very real experiences in a way that really ring true with me, whether I have experienced the same things or not. It’s so easy to sing along and believe what you are singing. And a lot of them tell a story, an interesting one, that keeps me wanting to listen, which is always good.

edit :: Oh, specific quotations to come shortly :P

MacBean's avatar

OH! How could I forget Tom Lehrer!? And Norm Sherman.

NewZen's avatar

—I’ll be honest, but a bit lazy; all I have to do is copy and paste @DarkScribe‘s list above, as it holds true for yours truly as well:

Leonard Cohen, Carole King, the Carpenters, Dianna Krall, Jane Olivor, Laura Branigan, Billy Joel, Cat Stevens, CRC, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton & JJ Cale, Gerry Rafferty, Jim Croce, Melissa Manchester, Moody Blues, Pat Benatar, Roy Orbison, Boney M, Bread, The Doors, John lennon, Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Sting, 5th Dimension, Air Supply, ABBA, Bob Seger, Bonnie Tyler, Boston, Cassandra Wilson. Patricia Kaas.

Note to self: Zen, you don’t know the last two on the list; go youtube them. Okay zen, thanks bud.

evegrimm's avatar

I think Danny Elfman kicks butt when it comes to lyrics.

I think Insanity and I Forget (scroll down for a translation) are great examples of this.

Also, Joss Whedon’s (limited) songwriting is much better than a lot of other music out there. The Once More, With Feeling lyrics have some very clever lines.

susanc's avatar

James Taylor, Paul Simon, double entendres and true love.

funkdaddy's avatar

In addition to some already mentioned, Talib Kweli is excellent… Four Women is a favorite if you want to check it out. (good explanation of the song)

answerjill's avatar

Carrie Newcomer (top of my list, at turns spiritual, down-to-earth, poignant, funny)
Josh Ritter (been said before)
Jill Sobule (She is not just a one-hit wonder!)
I’ll add quotes if I have some free time.

jfos's avatar

of Bright Eyes

I’ll add lyrics later.

Blondesjon's avatar

Josh Homme – Queens of the Stone Age (in no particular order)

There ain’t no glory on that side of the hole.

I want something good to die for, to make it beautiful to live.

It’s the cruelest joke to play. I’m so high I run in place.

Cracks in the ceiling, crooked pictures in the hall.

Ask yourself, “Will I burn in hell?” then write it down and cast it in the well.

janbb's avatar

In addition to most of DarkScribe’s and NewZen’s lists, I would put Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs and Joni Mitchell.

Oh – and George Harrison.

JONESGH's avatar

Elliott Smith. Just read some of these lyrics…amazing.

Likeradar's avatar

@jfos He’s brilliant. When The President Talks to God and pretty much every song on I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning are great examples of his amazing songwriting.

And Adam Durtiz of the Counting Crows. I’m finding them a little overly ernest and schmaltzy lately, but I still think Have You Seen Me Lately captures feelings I’ve certainly experienced but have never heard represented in a song before.

HGl3ee's avatar

Trent Reznor is by far my favorite <3 Right Where It Belongs by Nine Inch Nails is my all-time favorite song. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it! – LB

Right Where It Belongs

See the animal in his cage that you built
Are you sure what side you’re on?
Better not look him too closely in the eye
Are you sure what side of the glass you are on?
See the safety of the life you have built
Everything where it belongs
Feel the hollowness inside of your heart
And it’s all…
Right where it belongs

What if everything around you
Isn’t quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection
Is it all you want it to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks?
Would you find yourself…
Find yourself afraid to see?

What if all the world’s inside of your head
Just creations of your own?
Your devils and your gods
All the living and the dead
And you’re really all alone?
You can live in this illusion
You can choose to believe
Keep on looking but you can’t find the woods
While you’re hiding in the trees

What if everything around you
Isn’t quite as it seems?
What if all the world you used to know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection
Is it all you want to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks
Would you find yourself…
Find yourself afraid to see?

rangerr's avatar

Eddie Vedder and Jeff Buckley.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Elvis Costello. My Bob, the man’s a genius, even though he’s admitted to using a thesaurus in his work. So what, you know?

Get a load of this, will you:

Beyond Belief

History repeats the old conceits
The glib replies, the same defeats
Keep your finger on hot button issues
With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues

I’m just the oily slick
In the windup world of a nervous tick
In a very fashionable hovel

I hang around dying to be tortured
You’ll never be alone in the bone orchard
This battle with the bottle is nothing so novel

So in this almost empty gin palace
Through a two-way looking glass
You see your Alice

You know she has no sense
For all your jealousy
In a sense, she still smiles very sweetly

Charged with insults and flattery
Her body moves with malice
Do you have to be so cruel to be callous

And now you find you fit this identikit completely
You say you have no secrets
And then leave discreetly

I might make it California’s fault
Be locked in Geneva’s deepest vault
Just like the canals of Mars and the Great Barrier Reef
I come to you beyond belief

My hands were clammy and cunning
She’s been suitably stunning
But I know there’s not a hope in Hades
All the laddies catcall and wolf whistle
So-called gentlemen and ladies
Dog fight like rose and thistle

I’ve got a feeling
I’m going to get a lot of grief
Once this seemed so appealing
Now I am beyond belief

OH! ::hands on chest:: Utterly fantastic.

gailcalled's avatar

Stephen Sondheim: MIchael Flanders and Donald Swann: Peter, Paul and Mary: The LImelighters; Pete Seeger; Lorenzo Da Ponte (Mozart’s librettist, and what janbb said.

deni's avatar

I’m pretty into upbeat music…not that I dislike slower or sad music but in general I tend to go for faster music and/or music with positive lyrics. Right now (I feel like I’ve said this on fifty different threads) I really love the Avett Brothers. Particularly At The Beach

Also Billy Joel, Chuck Berry, MGMT…I like The Who a lot but their song “Blue Red and Gray” has some of my favorite lyrics to any song…take a look :)

PretentiousArtist's avatar

No one said Mike Patton yet?

KatawaGrey's avatar

I definitely have to second The Decemberists. Colin Melloy is quite the genius lyricist. I also really like Streetlight Manifesto for lyrics. My favorite lyrics from them is from their song A Better Place, A Better Time about a girl who wants to commit suicide:

I’ll draw your bath
And I’ll load your gun
But I hope so bad
That you bathe and hunt

El_Cadejo's avatar

“How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood,
And then just be.. in.. a good mood?
That’s all I have to say because it’s a straight up fact,
You control your emotions it’s as simple as that”

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – Waiting for the Beat to Kick In

dpworkin's avatar

Cole Porter; “You’re the Top”

fireinthepriory's avatar

Rufus Wainwright. Everyone else pales in comparison in my book. I can barely even choose which song to quote!!

Go or Go Ahead:

“Thank you for this bitter knowledge
Guardian angels who left me stranded
It was worth it, feeling abandoned
Makes one hardened but – what has happened to love

Got me writing lyrics on postcards
Then in the evenings looking at stars
But the brightest of the planets is Mars
What has happened to love

So I will opt for the big white limo
Vanity fairgrounds and rebel angels
Can’t be trusted with feathers so hollow
Heaven’s invention, steel eyed vampires of love
You see over me, I’ll never know
What you’ve shown to other eyes

Go or go ahead and surprise me
Say you’ve lead the way to a mirage
Go or go ahead and just try me

Nowhere’s now here smelling of junipers
Fell off the hay bales, I’m over the rainbows
But oh Medusa kiss me and crucify
This unholy notion of the mythic powers of love
Look in her eyes, look in her eyes
Forget about the ones that are crying
Look in her eyes, look in her eyes
Forget about the ones that are crying

Go or go ahead
And surprise me
Go or go ahead
And just try me”

janbb's avatar

@fireinthe priory And how about his Mom and Dad – Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle?

fireinthepriory's avatar

@janbb I haven’t heard as much of their music, but from what I have heard, he definitely got his talent from them. His sister Martha also has quite good lyrics. It’s a family affair, I suppose!

tinyfaery's avatar

The Shins
Dave Matthews

forestGeek's avatar

Neil Young
Townes Van Zandt
Richard Buckner
Doug Martsch (Built to Spill)
Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse)
Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys)
Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel)
Kurt Cobain

RareDenver's avatar

Marc Bianchi

I used to know this girl
Who gave her love away
To every guy she met
And with all the games they played
She never seemed to cry
She never got upset
And one by one they came
And one by one they left
I thought that I could fix her
If she would let me in
But all of my advances
Were shut down in the end
When days turned into months
I begged her to explain
And this is what she sang

It’s not like I’m a slut
Or that I really like to fuck
I just want every boy I see
To walk away with part of me
Until there’s nothing left to hold
Until there’s nothing left to hate
I appreciate your help
But even you can’t save me from myself

I used to know this boy
Who took notes in a book
But he ripped out all the pages
Before I got a look
At all the words he scribbled
At all the lines he filled
But the ink stains on his fingers
Told me he was skilled
At capturing a feeling
That most of us just miss
The simple pain of living
With goodbyes on our lips
I found one of the pages
Crumpled by her bed

And this is how it read

It’s not like I am weak
Or that I don’t know how to leave
It’s just that every time you cheat
You bring me closer to defeat

Until there’s nothing left to love
Until there’s nothing left to say
I know that you need help
But even I can’t save you from yourself

DrasticDreamer's avatar

James Maynard Keenan, Eddie Vedder, Pink Floyd, etc. I like anything highly or remotely philosophical.

boffin's avatar

Jon Anderson YES

susanc's avatar

Here’s one verse from a Rufus Wainwright song, on the McGarrigle Christmas album:

Don’t forget Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Running from the law King Herod had impos-ed.
Don’t forget that what kept them afloat
(running through the desert Doesn’t Need a Boat)
Don’t forget that what kept them above
Was un-con-di-tion-al love.
And they were each one quite odd:
a mensch, a virgin and a god.

(back to me:) I gotta tell you I think that’s a very amusing family portrait.

rockstargrrrlie's avatar

@RareDenver That’s one of my favorite songs :)

jackm's avatar


Wow, that song exactly exactly applies to my life right now. My now ex is that girl. Still love her and it makes me sad.

deni's avatar

@jackm virtual hug!

Strauss's avatar

A LOT of great lyricists.. @forestGeek lurve for townes Van Zandt!

I know Bob Seeger has been mentioned, but I have to give him props. His song Against the Wind is still one of my all-time favorite songs, and is such a strong parallel to my life that it’s uncanny.

Shuttle128's avatar

I definitely have to agree with Greg Graffin & Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion, there’s something about their songs that always strike me as well written. Pink Floyd is another. Death Cab is a definite. I do agree with Sting; I love The Police, their songs were always so straight forward but still well written.

My absolute favorite by far is Emery:

Left With Alibis And Lying Eyes

Watching someone stop breathing.
Feel the arms and palms releasing.
The color, the smell of the skin,
All of this with your fingerprints.
And there isn’t a thing that they can do.

Drive drive drive drive,
I don’t want to get caught.
We’ll say, we’ll say we’re innocent.
And there is enough to prove we’re not.
They will believe anything.
I’m packing all my clothes and never going to go home again.
There isn’t one thing we forgot.
You’ll see, we’ll get away with this.

My jeans, your shoes, we’ll throw away everything we’ve used.
But there’s still your worried mouth
To match your worried eyes.
The only two things left to find.

Drive drive drive drive,
I don’t want to get caught.
We’ll say, we’ll say we’re innocent.
And there is enough to prove we’re not.
They will believe anything.
I’m packing all my clothes and never going to go home again.
There isn’t one thing we forgot.
You’ll see, we’ll get away with this.

There’s no compromise.
So remember this:
Your hands are lies.
It’s too late for ifs.
We’ll go home and close the door,
then pull the sheets up to our heads and sleep.
And there isn’t a thing that they can do.

Drive drive drive drive,
I don’t want to get caught.
We’ll say, we’ll say we’re innocent.
And there is enough to prove we’re not.
They will believe anything.
I’m packing all my clothes and never going to go home again.
There isn’t one thing we forgot.
You’ll see, we’ll get away with this.

Strauss's avatar

There are so many that I like. Here’s an example of one of them. It is so descriptive that when he sings ”...the air smelled like snakes…” you can almost smell the odor of water and snakes.

Paradise by John Prine

When I was a child, my family would travel
Down to western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there’s a backwoods old town that’s often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn

And daddy, won’t you take be back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green river where Paradise lay
Well I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.

Well sometimes we’d travel right down the Green river
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrien hill.
Where the air smelled like snakes, and we’d shoot with our
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal ‘till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.



Words and music by John Prine, copyright 1971 Walden Music, Inc.
and Sour Grapes Music, all rights reserved.

mclaugh's avatar

Jack Johnson is an amazing lyricist…here’s an example of one of his songs(Monsoon):
All of life
Is in one drop of the ocean
Waiting to go home
Just waiting to go home
And if the moon
Can turn the tides it can pull the tears
and take them from our eyes
And make them into monsoons

Nada Surf(lesser known underground band with a surfer rock kind of edge, the lyrics to the song i posted are beside the video window..the song is called Always Love):

RareDenver's avatar

Can’t believe I forgot David Gedge

He totally opens himself and sings about his own life, like when the love of his life left him and he got his old band The Wedding Present back together just to sing about it.

Ringway to Seatak Bad Audio

You ask me how I feel, well suddenly this is all for real
It hasn’t seemed like that till now,
it’s as if you almost were still mine somehow
I hope you’ve realised just how I’m being so civilised
But it’s nearly time I went,
we’ve got one last chance to have an argument

Watching you walk back to your car
Was the lowest point of my life so far

Don’t stare into my eyes, I couldn’t bear for you to realise
That I’m still desperately in love with you
and darling that’s all I can think of
It’ll get easier every day, well I’ll be five thousand miles away
And I’m good at hiding pain
but now I really should get on that plane

And watching you walk back to your car
Was the lowest point of my life so far
As if you still could ever do a single thing
That’d make me hate you

Mars Sparkles Down On Me

So here I’ve got my brand new girlfriend
And she’s great in every way
And you’ve got your new lover there
So I guess we’re both okay

And I know that we’ve been through this
And we have to be apart
But the thought of him lying in our bed with you
It still just breaks my heart

Mars sparkles down
On me

You say he wants to meet me
Oh, I’m sure he’s genuine
But how can I just shake his hand?
When it’s been all over your skin

Mars sparkles down
On me

I should stop calling on our wind
But I won’t
I know I really should consider him
But I don’t

I’m From Further North Than You

And then you said “No, I’m not from the south,
I am from further north than you!”
With that you kissed me full on the mouth
And that was when I knew
you were either drunk or you wanted me
And, you know, either way I wasn’t going to disagree
But how did one crazy night turn into six weeks
How can we be going out if neither of us speaks
I think we’re the same in many ways
And I admit we had some memorable days
But just not very many
I just think we both need more,
and we can’t ignore how unhappy we were
I’d been abandoned by her and you needed a friend
All right the night we walked into the sea I guess that was okay
And when we bought that weird pornography
yeah that was a good day
The first time I saw your red bikini I just couldn’t help but stare
And when we counted planets in the sky
I was just happy you were there

and this

Polly_Math's avatar

Tom Waits

Well the smart money’s on Harlow and the moon is in the street
And the shadow boys are breaking all the laws
And you’re east of East Saint Louis and the wind is making speeches
And the rain sounds like a round of applause
And Napoleon is weeping in a carnival saloon
His invisible fiancee’s in the mirror
And the band is going home, it’s raining hammers, it’s raining nails
And it’s true there’s nothing left for him down here

And it’s time time time, and it’s time time time
And it’s time time time that you love
And it’s time time time

And they all pretend they’re orphans and their memory’s like a train
You can see it getting smaller as it pulls away
And the things you can’t remember tell the things you can’t forget
That history puts a saint in every dream

Well she said she’d stick around until the bandages came off
But these mama’s boys just don’t know when to quit
And Mathilda asks the sailors “Are those dreams or are those prayers?”
So close your eyes, son, and this won’t hurt a bit

Oh it’s time time time, and it’s time time time
And it’s time time time that you love
And it’s time time time

Well things are pretty lousy for a calendar girl
The boys just dive right off the cars and splash into the street
And when they’re on a roll she pulls a razor from her boot
And a thousand pigeons fall around her feet
So put a candle in the window and a kiss upon his lips
As the dish outside the window fills with rain
Just like a stranger with the weeds in your heart
And pay the fiddler off ‘til I come back again

Oh it’s time time time, and it’s time time time
And it’s time time time that you love
And it’s time time time
And it’s time time time, and it’s time time time
And it’s time time time that you love
And it’s time time time

Richard Thompson
1952 Vincent Black Lightning

Oh says Red Molly to James “That’s a fine motorbike.
A girl could feel special on any such like”
Says James to Red Molly “My hat’s off to you
It’s a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.
And I’ve seen you at the corners and cafes it seems
Red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme”
And he pulled her on behind and down to Boxhill they did ride
Oh says James to Red Molly “Here’s a ring for your right hand
But I’ll tell you in earnest I’m a dangerous man.
For I’ve fought with the law since I was seventeen,
I robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine.
Now I’m 21 years, I might make 22
And I don’t mind dying, but for the love of you.
And if fate should break my stride
Then I’ll give you my Vincent to ride”

“Come down, come down, Red Molly” called Sergeant McRae
“For they’ve taken young James Adie for armed robbery.
Shotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing inside.
Oh come down, Red Molly to his dying bedside”
When she came to the hospital, there wasn’t much left
He was running out of road, he was running out of breath
But he smiled to see her cry
He said “I’ll give you my Vincent to ride”

Says James “In my opinion, there’s nothing in this world
Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl.
Now Nortons and Indians and Greeves won’t do,
Ah, they don’t have a soul like a Vincent 52”
Oh he reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys
Said “I’ve got no further use for these.
I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome,
Swooping down from heaven to carry me home”
And he gave her one last kiss and died
And he gave her his Vincent to ride.

Buck 65
Wicked and Weird

Driving with a yellow dog, I-95
He’s got a smile on his face and big shiny eyes
Up at a decent hour, I never ate yet
Got a little Johnny Cash in the old tape deck
Nothing in the trunk but some base ball gloves
a pair of jumper cables and a set of golf clubs
blanket on the back seat we’re in rough shape
sunroof held on with a bit of duct tape
looking for a gas station, better make a list
Fill’er up with regular, I need to take a piss
sexy girl air freshener, snacks and a pinwheel
top up the fluids, clean the bugs off the windshield
not a care in the world, not a how, and a why
no destination, not a cloud in the sky
back on the road not a moment too soon
dish ran away with some other spoon

Wicked & weird I’m a road hog with an old dog
singing slow songs trying to hold on
Wicked & weird I’m a rat fish
trying to practice doing back flips on your mattress
(Repeat x2)

Hole in the muffler, ghosts on the shoulder
cough drops, loose change in the beverage holder
to roll down the window you gotta use a wrench
Been thinking about brushing up on my french
Right there in the glove box, if you should look
You’ll find 40 parking tickets and a copy of the Good Book
Don’t bother looking, you’ll never find me
I’m starting from scratch and leaving trouble behind me

Wicked & weird I’m a road hog with an old dog
singing slow songs trying to hold on
Wicked & weird I’m a rat fish
trying to practice doing back flips on your mattress
(Repeat x2)

Wicked, wicked, wicked and weird

Wicked, wicked, wicked and weird

Christ almighty, there’s a rattle in the wheel well
Dog fell asleep and man, I don’t feel well
But all I need is a half decent breakfast
And I’ll be back at it, dirty and reckless

5 o’clock shadow, lips like mudflaps
hands like eagle’s talons, eyes like hub caps
The further I get, I keep going faster
Whispers in the wind, and cows in the pasture
I have no plans and nothing to prove either
I eat out of a bag and sleep in a movie theatre

The highway’s a story teller, I just write it down
Already been beaten, there’s no way to fight it now
I just kick back and keep warm on the cold days
And laugh ‘cause it ain’t like it was in the old days
I figure when I make it to the heavenly gates
They’ll be working on my car and playing 78’s

Wicked & weird I’m a road hog with an old dog
singing slow songs trying to hold on
Wicked & weird I’m a rat fish
trying to practice doing back flips on your mattress
(Repeat x2)

aprilsimnel's avatar

I am also a big Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout) and Andy Partridge (XTC) fan.

fathippo's avatar

kurt cobain, because a lot of it seems to make no sense at all, which makes it more mysterious, like you’ve crawled underneath the world and can see everything from a different place… kinda… =)

and i always say about this song, but i love it so much, and ze lyrics…

Beating the fall, I can’t help but desire of falling down this time
Deep in this hole of my making, I can’t escape falling all this time

We come to this place, falling through time living a hollow life
Always we’re taking, waiting for signs, hollow lives…(lives (x7)

Fearing to fall and still the ground below me calls, falling down this time
Ripping apart all these things I have tried to stop falling all this time

We come to this place, falling through time living a hollow life
Always we’re taking, waiting for signs, hollow lives…

Is there ever any wonder why we look to the sky?
Search in vain, asking “why?”
All alone, where is God?
Looking down, we don’t know

We fall in space, we can’t look down
Death may come, peace I have found
What to say? Am I alive?
Am I asleep? or have I died?

We fall in space (Wanting Peace)
We can’t look down (Wanting Peace)
Death may come, peace I have found
(Something takes a hold of me) I want to say my whole life
“Am I asleep?” (Something takes a hold of me), We fall down.

We come to this place, falling through time living a hollow life.
Always we’re taking, waiting for signs,
Hollow lives…

Is there ever any wonder why we look to the sky?
Search in vain, asking “why?”
All alone, where is God?
Looking down… We don’t know

We fall in space, we can’t look down
Death may come, peace I have found

i love korn, and also

Right now
Can’t find a way to get across the hate when i see you
right now
i feel it scratch inside i wanna slash and beat you

that is korn aswell

soon i will go away…!

evanescence aswell, these things came into my head first…

i lie inside myself for hours, and watch my purple skies fly over me
don’t say i’m out of touch, with this rampant chaos,
your reality
i know well what lies beyond my sleeping refuge
the nightmare i built my own world to escape

please don’t be afraid, when the darkness fades away
can’t wash it all away
cant wish it all away
can’t cry it all away
can’t scratch it all away

hmm i could go on, but i won’t, for everyone else’s sake =)

Irishmar's avatar

I will answer with only one answer, as requested: the former Warren Zevon, why? just listen to his lyrics and you’ll understand. I miss the man so much.

gailcalled's avatar

Stephen Sondheim

Some of his shows; Gypsy, Follies, A Little Night Music, West Side Story others, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (see link for complete list.)

He wrote all the lyrics and much of the music.

Send in the Clowns, The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, I’m Still Here, I Never Do Anything Twice, etc.

MacBean's avatar

ahahahaha Sondheim. I’ve never seen one of this shows, only listened to them at home. Because I can’t get through a whole one without having to take a couple of breaks. His stuff is so intricate and complex, I have to stop and think and let things sink in before going on.

gailcalled's avatar

@MacBean: Welcome back. How are you feeling? Sorry I can’t order up some balmier weather.

Start with the easier shows, such as West Side Story, Gypsy, Forum and A Little NIght Music. I have a nice old-fashioned 2 CD set, called “Side by Side with Sondheim” that has a wonderful compendium.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I think that the most underrated and overlooked (genius) lyricist of all time was Joni Mitchell.

Sheer poetry put to music…and she evolved into an amazing jazz artist, too.

RareDenver's avatar

Ani Difranco

us people are just poems
we’re 90% metaphor
with a leanness of meaning
approaching hyper-distillation
and once upon a time
we were moonshine
rushing down the throat of a giraffe
yes, rushing down the long hallway
despite what the p.a. announcement says
yes, rushing down the long stairs
with the whiskey of eternity
fermented and distilled
to eighteen minutes
burning down our throats
down the hall
down the stairs
in a building so tall
that it will always be there
yes, it’s part of a pair
there on the bow of Noah’s ark
the most prestigious couple
just kickin back parked
against a perfectly blue sky
on a morning beatific
in its Indian summer breeze
on the day that America
fell to its knees
after strutting around for a century
without saying thank you
or please

and the shock was subsonic
and the smoke was deafening
between the setup and the punch line
cuz we were all on time for work that day
we all boarded that plane for it to fly
and then while the fires were raging
we all climbed up on the windowsill
and then we all held hands
and jumped into the sky

and every borough looked up when it heard the first blast
and then every dumb action movie was summarily surpassed
and the exodus uptown by foot and motorcar
looked more like war than anything I’ve seen so far
so far
so far
so fierce and ingenious
a poetic specter so far gone
that every jackass newscaster was struck dumb and stumbling
over ‘oh my god’ and ‘this is unbelievable’ and on and on
and I’ll tell you what, while we’re at it
you can keep the pentagon
keep the propaganda
keep each and every TV
that’s been trying to convince me
to participate
in some prep school punk’s plan to perpetuate retribution
perpetuate retribution
even as the blue toxic smoke of our lesson in retribution
is still hanging in the air
and there’s ash on our shoes
and there’s ash in our hair
and there’s a fine silt on every mantle
from hell’s kitchen to Brooklyn
and the streets are full of stories
sudden twists and near misses
and soon every open bar is crammed to the rafters
with tales of narrowly averted disasters
and the whiskey is flowin
like never before
as all over the country
folks just shake their heads
and pour

so here’s a toast to all the folks who live in Palestine

El Salvador

here’s a toast to the folks living on the pine ridge reservation
under the stone cold gaze of mt. Rushmore

here’s a toast to all those nurses and doctors
who daily provide women with a choice
who stand down a threat the size of Oklahoma City
just to listen to a young woman’s voice

here’s a toast to all the folks on death row right now
awaiting the executioner’s guillotine
who are shackled there with dread and can only escape into their heads
to find peace in the form of a dream

cuz take away our playstations
and we are a third world nation
under the thumb of some blue blood royal son
who stole the oval office and that phony election
I mean
it don’t take a weatherman
to look around and see the weather
Jeb said he’d deliver Florida, folks
and boy did he ever

and we hold these truths to be self evident:
#1 George W. Bush is not president
#2 America is not a true democracy
#3 the media is not fooling me
cuz I am a poem heeding hyper-distillation
I’ve got no room for a lie so verbose
I’m looking out over my whole human family
and I’m raising my glass in a toast

here’s to our last drink of fossil fuels
let us vow to get off of this sauce
shoo away the swarms of commuter planes
and find that train ticket we lost
cuz once upon a time the line followed the river
and peeked into all the backyards
and the laundry was waving
the graffiti was teasing us
from brick walls and bridges
we were rolling over ridges
through valleys
under stars
I dream of touring like Duke Ellington
in my own railroad car
I dream of waiting on the tall blonde wooden benches
in a grand station aglow with grace
and then standing out on the platform
and feeling the air on my face

give back the night its distant whistle
give the darkness back its soul
give the big oil companies the finger finally
and relearn how to rock-n-roll
yes, the lessons are all around us and a change is waiting there
so it’s time to pick through the rubble, clean the streets
and clear the air
get our government to pull its big dick out of the sand
of someone else’s desert
put it back in its pants
and quit the hypocritical chants of
freedom forever

cuz when one lone phone rang
in two thousand and one
at ten after nine
on nine one one
which is the number we all called
when that lone phone rang right off the wall
right off our desk and down the long hall
down the long stairs
in a building so tall
that the whole world turned
just to watch it fall

and while we’re at it
remember the first time around?
the bomb?
the Ryder truck?
the parking garage?
the princess that didn’t even feel the pea?
remember joking around in our apartment on avenue D?

can you imagine how many paper coffee cups would have to change their design
following a fantastical reversal of the New York skyline?!

it was a joke, of course
it was a joke
at the time
and that was just a few years ago
so let the record show
that the FBI was all over that case
that the plot was obvious and in everybody’s face
and scoping that scene
the CIA
or is it KGB?
committing countless crimes against humanity
with this kind of eventuality
as its excuse
for abuse after expensive abuse
and it didn’t have a clue
look, another window to see through
way up here
on the 104th floor
another key
another door
10% literal
90% metaphor
3000 some poems disguised as people
on an almost too perfect day
must be more than poems
in some asshole’s passion play
so now it’s your job
and it’s my job
to make it that way
to make sure they didn’t die in vain
baby listen
hear the train?

adinaa's avatar

YES to Conor Oberst and Jeff Mangum. St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) is also great. Her voice is hypnotic.

“While Jesus is saving, I’m spending all my grace
on the rosy-red pallor of lights on center stage.
While people have cheered on the awful mess we’ve made,
through storms of red roses we’ve exited the stage.”

Dilettante's avatar

Anything by Sade. Puts me in a mood, a time, a place, a memory, a moment, with someone from my past or present; with every woman I’ve ever loved. Sometimes I have to pull the car over and sit there, stupified, mesmerized, not sure whether to laugh or cry. So many of her more obscure songs; other than her original breakthrough hit, “Diamond Life,” which was excellent, catchy, memorable, but not particularly poignant, romantic. There are too many to name; nearly all of them, Her amazing, haunting voice, the incredible music of her group, combine with the lyrics to overwhelm me.

“Quietly while you were sleeping the moon and I were talking, I asked her to always protect you…she promised me she would.” With a haunting melody behind it.

“Is it a crime?”...that I still want you…and I want you to want me to.”

And if I really want to grovel in self-pity, dig into a depressed mode (always just briefly, thank goodness) there’s nothing quite like “King of Sorrow.”
“Just another day, nothin’s any good…I’ve already cried all my future tears…wonder if this grief will ever leave me…what am I supposed to do?” With that melancholy accompanying music. Hehehe, chuckling a little now; amazed at how I sometimes pop that one into the CD player just to get into that mood for a few minutes.
What this emphasizes, to me, is the power of music as an art form, as opposed to the others. I don’t think there’s anything that can connect me with the past so quickly, so strongly. As a writer who couldn’t carry a tune in a basket, I envy musicians for this.

Another individual song that immediately effects me in this way is “Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum. I experienced the sixties-seventies, full-tilt boogie, as we would say, and somehow survived. This song comes on the radio while driving, and I’m immediately transported back in time to a lit, multi-colored dancefloor in a Miami Club, with Sharon—oh Sharon, where are you now?I hope you made it. We’ve just finished several fast dances“Whiter Shade of Pale” might be the only slow one we’d hear all night—we come together, overheated, a little sweaty even; grasp each other lovingly and sway in the respite of the slow, haunting refrain…the Light Fandango indeed. I can see it now.
Time to put on Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” or the Stones’ “Honkytonk Woman” and have a laugh, get happy quick, get my feet bouncing as I sit here wondering why I just made a fool of myself to seventy zillion strangers on this infernal machin
Oops, ol’ blabberfingers took over again…hope I haven’t committed some cooperative faux pas here—excessive verbocity? Violation of spatial parameters? Punishable by? Exile? Being forced to listen to Rap “Music” lol.
To make things worse, no time to edit this—good thing I type fast—hope you can follow along. I call my writing style “Stream-of-consciousness” a la Virginia Woolf. Others would call it, Gibberish! Not even going to re-read it, God knows what I said. CLICK.

Strauss's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus Lurve for Joni Mitchell! some of my favorite lines:

A case of You
“Just before our love got lost you said
I am as constant as a northern star
And I said, constantly in the darkness
Where’s that at?”

The Circle Game
”...The years go by, and now the child is twenty,
And the dreams have lost some grandeur coming true,
But there’ll be new ones, maybe better dreams and plenty,
Before the last revolving Wheel is through.”

And many more..

@Dilletante lurve for Whiter Shade of Pale
I love the classical and magical references in the lyrics.

Response moderated
Adagio's avatar

(Quite impossible to choose one lyricist over another… Paul Kelly (Australia) is just one of many inspired lyricists deserving recognition/acknowledgement.)

From St Kilda to Kings Cross
Paul Kelly

From St Kilda to Kings Cross is thirteen hours on a bus
I pressed my face against the glass and watched the white lines rushing past
And all around me felt like all inside me
And my body left me and my soul went running
Have you ever seen Kings Cross when the rain is falling soft?
I came in on the evening bus, from Oxford Street I cut across
And if the rain don’t fall too hard everything shines
Just like a postcard
Everything goes on just the same
Fair-weather friends are the hungriest friends
I keep my mouth well shut, i cross their open hands
I want to see the sun go down from St Kilda esplanade
Where the beach needs reconstruction, where the palm trees have it hard
I’d give you all of Sydney harbour (all that land, all that water)
For that one sweet promenade

Macaulay's avatar

Jeff Mangum, Simon Joyner, Isaac Brock, Tom Waits, Townes van Zandt, Jeffrey Lewis, Penny Rimbaud of Crass.

forestGeek's avatar

@Macaulay – Awesome list!!

gailcalled's avatar

Stephen Sondheim: Gypsy, West Side Story (Lyrics only), Company, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

@gailcalled “A comedy tonight!” I like Mel Brooks a lot. Springtime for Hitler gets me everytime. I feel a bit ashamed to say it, but right now I’m blasting Don’t Rain On My Parade in the car right now. I feel such a dork singing it, but I love it. I’m also kinda liking Fall out boy right now, as well.

aprilsimnel's avatar

OK, I really like Andy Partridge, the front man and chief lyricist for the English band XTC back in the day. They did a brilliant album with Todd Rundgren(!) as producer back in ‘82 (Skylarking) that is one of my absolute faves.

Here’s a sample:

The man who sailed around his soul
From east to west, from pole to pole
With ego as his drunken captain
Greed, the mutineer, had trapped all reason in the hold

The man who walked across his heart
Who took no compass, guide or chart
To rope and tar his blood congealed
When he found his self revealed ugly and cold

And the sirens that sing
By your nose with its ring
They’ll drag you in
For your sins

Now he sits all alone
And its no place like home
His empty skin
A bag to keep life’s souvenirs in
The man who sailed around his soul
The man who sailed around his soul

Strauss's avatar

I heard this duo for the first time last night. They’re called Truckstop Honeymoon, and their lyrics are such that I can close my eyes while I listen and watch the story. Some good examples are Johnny and June
and Magnolia Tree.

kitchi1's avatar

Patricia Day. It’s so hard to sing and play upright bass at the same time. She’s so talented. I also love her songs. They’re so good. I can never think of good song lyrics without sounding stupid.

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