My Big Book of Beautiful Lyrics: Chapter 2


29 fév. 2008, 21h37m

Isn't it amazing when you listen to a song that you've known for years, but you only just now discover the utter beauty of its lyrics? They just point out somehow, while it's been under your nose for so long, waiting to be noticed.

It makes you feel like there must be so much more beauty in the words of all the songs you own, you just haven't discovered them yet. I like to think of my collection of music as a great big book of beautiful lyrics that I've only ever just scanned through. I know all chapters, but not all words. When you take the time to sit down to read some pages thoroughly, that's when you strike gold.

After writing the first pages about a year ago, I would very much like to take you through the next chapter of my Big Book of Beautiful Lyrics.

---"My songs are friends I’ll never know"

There’s a certain paradox, a catch-22, to these lines. I can imagine how, if you write and make songs (or anything creative, for that matter), you can get very attached to it. Yet, it has no substance, it’s just words in a certain order, it’s just an emotion.

'Cause my songs don't know that I exist
And though I give them life, it is
A friendship that will never grow
My songs are friends I'll never know

Mic Christopher - Skylarking

---”La cienega just smiles"

Deep down, you know it’s pointless. But you’re crazy about her and you don’t know why. Maybe, it’s because it seems she doesn’t care or doesn’t notice. She just smiles and waves goodbye. She turns and walks away elegantly, while your knees buckle.

and i hold you close in the back of my mind
feels so good but damn it makes me hurt
and i'm too scared to know how i feel about you now
how i feel about you now
la cienega just smiles and says "i'll see you around"

Ryan Adams - La Cienega Just Smiled

---"The man who isn’t me"

Is it jealousy, or a broken heart? Lucky You is about a man who still lives and breathes for a woman he’s not with anymore. You own me, he says in all his heartwrenching honesty, but she’s already moving on. What better way to describe it than to point out the little details: washing up, dressing, putting on a coat.

you clean yourself to meet
the man who isn't me
you're putting on a shirt
a shirt I'll never see
the letter's in your coat
but no one's in your head

The National - Lucky You

---"I can feel myself fading away"

We all know what this is about. Someone suffering from a disease that’s going to get the best of him. He has given up and feels the life drain away from his body.

Night has fallen, I'm flying away
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your fateless kiss
or will we leave each other alone like this?

Bruce Springsteen - Streets of Philadelphia

---"There’s so many, many thoughts"

These lyrics have always meant something to me. It’s so full of fantasy, metaphores, suffering. But I think, breaking it down to the core, they can be interpreted as the agitation of your mind right before you fall asleep. There’s many, many thoughts, but your love lays next to you and at the end of the day, that’s all you need.

beyond this beautiful horizon
lies a dream for you and I
this tranquil scene is still unbroken
by the rumours in the sky
but there's a storm closing in
voices crying on the wind
the serenade is growing colder
breaks my soul that tries to sing
and there's so many, many thoughts
when I try to go to sleep
but with you I start to feel
a sort of temporary peace

Anathema - Temporary Peace

---"Immerse your soul in love"

Once in a while, someone says that line that’s been said by a million people and manages to put it like none of those before did.

Immerse your soul in love

Radiohead - Street Spirit (Fade Out)

---"That’s all, I don’t even think of you that often"

The brilliant lyrics to this song are dismal, morbid and humorous. You told me again you prefered handsome men, but for me you would make an exception. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a lovesong, for it’s just coincidence that Cohen recalls this gettogether and decides to tell about it. That last line turns it all around.

I don't mean to suggest that I loved you the best
I can't keep track of each fallen robin
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
that's all, I don't even think of you that often

Leonard Cohen - Chelsea Hotel No. 2

---"…and we are everywhere"

On the last song of his last album and two year before his early death, Nick Drake sang these words. They appear on his thombstone now and could not be better suiting.

And now we rise
And we are everywhere

Nick Drake - From The Morning

---"Would you swallow me deep inside?"

I guess Washing Of The Water is about dealing with a loss and cleansing yourself in water, literally or metaphorical, hoping to wash off the grief. And if not, may the water then please take you down with it forever?

So deep, so wide
Will you take me on your back for a ride
If I should fall
Would you swallow me deep inside?

Peter Gabriel - Washing Of The Water

---"Is there anything as still as sleeping horses"

Tired and disappointed with all that’s around, there’s no better way to regain hope than to walk into a fresh spring and behold it in all it’s glory.

We walked out through
The dew dappled brambles
And sat upon the fence
Is there anything as still as sleeping horses?
Is there anything as still as sleeping horses?

Smog - Let Me See the Colts

---"…for you were in my song"

It’s a small song, yet one in which the most important friendship in popular music is represented. Paul McCartney wrote this shortly after John Lennon’s death for his former friend, and not many people will be able to read this without being touched by it.

And if I say
I really loved you
And was glad you came along
Then you were here today
For you were in my song

Paul McCartney - Here Today

---"Rest in my arms, sleep in my bed"

If I ever have a son, these four sentences may very well end up on the birthcard.

Rest in my arms
Sleep in my bed
There is a design
To what I did and said

Sufjan Stevens - Vito’s Ordination Song

---"…not me"

I’d like to bring these chapters of my book to a close with the words of a drunken pianist. Miserable and confused, he’s blaiming everyone and everything around him. It’s the end of the evening and everyone has gone home, but in the corner of this dark, fuggy café, there’s still the pianist, cursing his instrument bacause it keeps playing the wrong tones.

And the box office is drooling
And the bar stools are on fire
And the newspapers were fooling
And the ashtrays have retired
And the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking
Not me

Tom Waits - The Piano Has Been Drinking


  • Linkable

    In The National - Lucky You: “But no one’s in your head / because you’re too smart to remember”. Is she really moving on or is she simply an empty and disheartened woman who can’t bind herself to anyone anymore? “But what you break is what you get”. Such a beautiful song. I really like the Sufjan Stevens, Leonard Cohen and Paul McCartney ones too.

    4 mars 2008, 10h40m
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