Friday, April 28, 2006

Good lyrics

Last week, some Brit poll declared that a U2 lyric was the best ever. Well, to each his/her own but as a major music fan, here are some of my favorites: I’m going away for the weekend, so feel free to add your own in the comments.

For the best barfight imagery, there’s Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”:

Well, two men took to fighting
And when they pulled them from the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone
Ouch. Best logic from Dire Straits’ “Industrial Disease”:

Two men say they’re Jesus
One of them just be wrong
Pithy statement award to Janis Joplin and “Me and Bobby McGee”:

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose

(Honorable mention: I’d trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday)
As poetry goes, I love the rhyme and rhythm of “Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart:

On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolour in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat
Anybody who works in Peter Lorre deserves a nod, but how about Bert Kaempfert as in Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week”:

Bert Kaempfert's got the mad hits
You try to match wits, you try to hold me but I bust through
I’ve always been a big fan of Graham Parker, one of the greatest musicians who never hit it big. Here’s his “you can’t go home again” song “Back in Time”:

You stop in the old cafe where you used to play pinball
And look for the air-raid shelter but it's gone and the cafe seems so small
And all the gardens that had trees and stolen apples
Now have small businesses flourishing in cinder blocks
I could go on all night but let’s stop with Bob Dylan and “My Back Pages”:

My guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now
Good stuff.


Anonymous said...

The Turtles:

Elenore, gee I think you're swell
And you really do me well
You're my pride and joy, et cetera
Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better

Mighty Slim said...

Chuck Berry:

Arrested on charges of unemployment,
He was sitting in the witness stand.
The judge's wife phoned the District Attorney,
She said "You free that brown eyed man."
"You want your job you better free that brown eyed man."

Anonymous said...

Kris Kristofferson wrote the song and lyrics for "Me and Bobby Magee", and did the first recording. Janis Joplin just covered it.

Anonymous said...

Woops, my bad. Correction to above comment. Roger Miller did the first recording of Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee".

Ryne said...

Awesome topic. I've always loved songs that are tremendously witty and/or creative, and Warren Zevon was one of the best.

Zevon & Jorge Calderon's "Mr. Bad Example," where every line is a classic:

I got a part-time job at my father's carpet store
Laying tackless stripping, and housewives by the score
I loaded up their furniture, and took it to Spokane
And auctioned off every last naugahyde divan

And my favorite "you can go home again" song is O.A.R.'s "I Feel Home":

We're feeling alright headin out tonight maybe off to a dark driveway
I say now, some feel bored, and some are looking for more, but we all just decide to stay
We got nothing to do, but when I look at you I see something that I know and love
And with the crack of a smile we all stay awhile, we know from home their ain't nothin above

triticale said...

Louie, Louie, me gotta go.
Louie, Louie, me gotta go.
A fine little girl, she wait for me.
Me catch the ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone.
I never think I'll make it home.
Louie, Louie, me gotta go.
Louie, Louie, me gotta go.
Three nights and days we sailed the sea.
Me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream she there.
I smell the rose in her hair.
Louie, Louie, me gotta go.
Louie, Louie, me gotta go.
Me see Jamaican moon above.
It won't be long me see me love.
Me take her in my arms and then.
I tell her I never leave again.
Louie, Louie, me gotta go.
Louie, Louie, me gotta go.

Anonymous said...

More Dylan: "...helped her out of a jam I guess, but I used a little too much force..."

Anonymous said...

" . . . I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then . .."
Bob Seger, "Against The Wind"

Anonymous said...

Most patriotic, via Carnivore:

Be prepared to fight and die
So that we may be free
And if you don't like it here
Then packs your shit and leave
Our forefathers died in war
So that you could live better
We at least owr it to them
To keep the stars and stripes forever

Vogrin said...

Heather Alexander:

Follow orders as you're told,
make their yellow blood run cold
Fight until you die or drop,
a force like ours is hard to stop
Close your mind to stress and pain,
fight till you're no longer sane
Let not one damn cur pass by,

WT said...

Johnny Cash:

I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn't hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad
So I had one more for dessert.

Barry said...

I feel like this a LOT:

You don't know me, but you don't like me.

You say you care less how I feel

How many of you who sit and judge me

Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

"The Streets of Bakersfield" by Buck Owens

Anonymous said...

I always thought this was an accurate commentary on celebrity.

Peter Gabriel--Big Time

My parties have all the big names,
And I greet them with the widest smile--tell them how my life is one big adventure

And always they're amazed
When I show them round my house
to my bed
I had it made, like a mountain range
With snow-white pillows
For my big, fat head

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget this gem ...

"And everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon." By: you know who, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Nobody scales the poetic heights like that Little Ol' Band from Texas, the fantastic ZZ TOP:

I been bad;
I been good.
Dallas, Texas;
I ain't askin' for much.
Lord take me downtown;
I'm just lookin' for some tush.

Anonymous said...

If I had a box just for wishes and dreams that have never come true.

The box would be empty except for the memory of how they were answered by you.

Jim Croce

Des said...

You're all wrong. The finest lyrics in our common language belong to Mr. Samuel R. Hagar:

I tell myself,
Only time will tell if we can stand the test of time.
All I know,
You've got to run to win.
And I'll be damned if I'll get hung up on the line.

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