View Full Version : Favorite Song "Lyrically"

Frustrated Wonderer
12-04-2006, 10:47 AM
Part of what makes a great song, are its lyrics, this is something that today's artists have seemingly forgotten.

There have been many great songs with great lyrics over the years. One of the most famous songs, based on it's lyrics is Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone".

Don McLean's "American Pie" and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" are both songs that have been through serious lyrical scrutiny simply because, people do not understand what the heck these artists are trying to say.

This brings me to my question, which is you favorite song or songs, based on its lyrics?

My favorite song in this sense would be Billy Joel's Vienna, and Led Zeppelin's Rain Song.

Vienna is truly a great philosophical piece that deals with slowing down and enjoying life and being a passionate person, and knowing that even when you get old, you can still have a place in society.

(Slow down you crazy child, your so ambitious for a Juvenile, but then if your so smart why are you still so afraid? Where's the fire? what's the hurry about? you better cool it off before you burn it out")

Led Zeppelin's Rain Song is a much slower song that your typical Led Zeppelin song. It deals with the issue of love and how it can help us through hardships.

("These are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion - I seek the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient - Upon us all a little rain must fall")

So, fellow dopers, what are your favorite songs, based on there lyrics?

12-04-2006, 12:33 PM
Stan Rogers's "Lies".

Is this the face that won for her the man
Whose amazed and clumsy fingers put that ring upon her hand?

And thinks ahead to Friday, 'cause Friday will be fine!
She'll look up in that weathered face that loves hers, line for line

And too many Springsteen songs to count!

Dung Beetle
12-04-2006, 12:53 PM
I don't know if I'm answering the question properly or not, but I'll take a shot at it. I can't think of any songs that express my philosophy of life or anything, but lots of times, an interesting lyric will be the first thing that grabs me and makes me pay attention to a song. The example that springs immediately to mind would be Levon, by Bernie Taupin/Elton John. (He named his son what? He wants to go where? Tell me more!) Conversely, I can get really pissed off thinking about songs where it's obvious that the lyricist didn't try very hard.

A song I love that I think uses a lyrical hook in a clever manner would be You're So Vain, by Carly Simon. First, it has that great imagery "clouds in my coffee". Then, of course, "I bet you think this song is about you", which is thought-provoking, since the song obviously is about him. Another good line is, "Well you're where you should be all the time/and when you're not" etc. Good stuff.

Another good-lyric song would be Lola, by The Kinks, but I don't think it's really a "pure" example...everything about that song is great. :)

12-04-2006, 01:08 PM
Jackson Browne's "Before The Deluge":

And in the end they traded their tired wings
For the resignation that living brings
And exchanged loves bright and fragile glow
For the glitter and the rouge
And in the moment they were swept before the deluge

In fact, Jackson Browne holds quite a few of the top slots in my "personal favorite lyrics" list. The only other songwriter that comes close is Springsteen:

Now they'd come so far and they'd waited so long
Just to end up caught in a dream where everything goes wrong
Where the dark of night holds back the light of day
And you've gotta stand and fight for the price you pay

Autumn Almanac
12-04-2006, 01:18 PM
I don't know exactly why, but when I think about my favorite lyrics, the first verse of George Harrison's "Old Brown Shoe" always pops into my head.

I want a love that's right
But right is only half of what's wrong
I want a short-haired girl
Who sometimes wears it twice as long

Just a bit of wry flippancy that for some reason is incredibly evocative to me. Fun to sing too.

12-04-2006, 01:25 PM
I love Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen. Poetic, eerie, seemingly explicit, yet the more you think about them, the less they make sense.

And for humor, the tour de force Tom Lehrer pastiche of 'Clementine', which is the best bit of rhyming I've ever heard:That I missed her depressed her young sister named Esther,
This mister to pester she tried.
Now a pestering sister's a festering blister,
You're best to resist her, say I.
The mister resisted, the sister persisted,
I kissed her, all loyalty slipped.
When she said I could have her
Her sister's cadaver
Must surely have turned in its crypt.

Dung Beetle
12-04-2006, 01:28 PM
In fact, Jackson Browne holds quite a few of the top slots in my "personal favorite lyrics" list. [/I]
Yes. Good call!

12-04-2006, 01:54 PM
And Loudon Wainwright III for his wry humor.

This summer I swam in a public place
And a reservoir to boot
At the latter I was informal
At the former I wore my suit

12-04-2006, 02:03 PM
"Hallelujah," for me, has some of the most heart-breaking lines ever.

"Origin of Love" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Last time I saw you
We'd just split in two
You was looking at me
I was looking at you
You had a way so familiar
I could not recognize
'Cause you had blood on your face
I had blood in my eyes
But I could swear by your expression
That the pain down in your soul
Was the same
As the one down in mine

12-04-2006, 03:30 PM
Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust

Sometimes I wonder why I spend each lonely night
dreaming of a song. The melody haunts my reverie
'til I am once again with you,
when our love was new
and each kiss an inspiration.
But that was long ago and now my consolation
is in the stardust of a song.

12-04-2006, 03:32 PM
I really like Marillion's Charting the Single for its wordplay

Slow French kissing with the Dauphin's daughter
If I fall in love now I'll be floating in Seine
Plastered in Paris I've had an Eiffel
Gonna make my escape on the midnight train
Choo, choo to you - Choo, choo to you - Charting the single
Schnapping my fingers on an alcoholiday
Sniff round a Fraulein when I'm scent to Cologne

12-04-2006, 03:52 PM
"Hallelujah," for me, has some of the most heart-breaking lines ever.

Dammit, you got to it first.

But, yeah, Leonard Cohen could easily own a lot of the spots on this list.

12-04-2006, 04:31 PM
Pure and Simple by Lightning Seeds is one of my favourites; Vincent from Don McLean has put me on the edge of crying sometimes just like Miss Sarajevo by U2 and Pavarotti. Many of Loreena McKennitt´s songs have wonderful lyrics, although in many cases those are poems or text extracts from writers, Propspero´s Speech and The Highway Man are in that category, but she also has some lyrics of her own and the Mystic´s Dream is esquisite on it´s evocative poetry.

Well, I could go on and on... there are many great lyrics worth remembering to sing along. :)

12-04-2006, 04:53 PM
Moved from IMHO to CS.

Bippy the Beardless
12-04-2006, 05:22 PM
There is something to be said for

"Little old lady got mutilated late last night"

We lost a good one when Zevon died.

Sam Stone
12-04-2006, 07:53 PM
Some Zevon lyrical quotes:

And if California slides into the ocean,
Like the mystics and statistics say it will,
I predict this motel will be standing,
Until I pay my bill.

- from "Desperadoes Under the Eaves"

I've been lying in a bed of coals
I've been cryng out of control
I roll and I tumble
Every time I come down
I'm too old to die young
And too young to die now

- from 'Bed of Coals'

I love that line - I'm too old to die young, and too young to die now... and a very apt description of Zevon's fate, written 25 years earlier.

4-Aminobiphenyl, hexachlorobenzene
Dimethyl sulfate, chloromethyl methylether
2, 3, 7, 8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-
para-dioxin, carbon disulfide

Dibromochloropane, chlorinated
benzenes, 2-Nitropropane, pentachlorophenol,
Benzotrichloride, strontium chromate
1, 2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane

I went walking in the wasted city
Started thinking about entropy
Smelled the wind from the ruined river
Went home to watch TV

And it's worse when I try to remember
When I think about then and now
I'd rather see it on the news at eleven
Sit back, and watch it run straight down

- From 'Run Straight Down'

Bet you never thought you'd hear a verse containing nothing but the chemical names of various carcinogens...

This one contains another of my favorite lines:

The past seems realer than the present to me now
I've got memories to last me
When the sky is gray
The way it is today
I remember the times when I was happy

Gentle rain
Falls on me
All life folds back
Into the sea
We contemplate eternity
Beneath the vast indifference of heaven

- From "The Vast Indifference of Heaven"

12-04-2006, 08:05 PM
Steely Dan is one of my favorite bands for lyrics...I love this part in Deacon Blues :

I crawl like a viper
Through these suburban streets
Make love to these women
Languid and bittersweet

Languid and bittersweet---how often do you hear that phrase?

I also like Rush lyrics--Today's Tom Sawyer and Trees..etc.

12-04-2006, 08:26 PM
There are so many. By no means my favorite, this is one I do quite like:

Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter II

All I have in this world is a pistol and a promise,
A fist full of dollars, a list full of problems;
I'll address them like P.O. boxes
Yeah, I'm from New Orleans, the Creole cockpit
We so out of it, zero tolerance
Gangsta gumbo, I'll serve 'em a pot of it

and something completely different:

The Mountain Goats - Going to Georgia

The most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway is that it's you and that you are standing in the doorway.

12-04-2006, 10:16 PM
Mine would have to be Ira Gershwin's lyrics to "They Can't Take That Away From Me." They are as close to lyrical perfection as you can get, and still have the power to surprise you no matter how often you hear them.

Here's a safe link: http://www.reelclassics.com/Teams/Fred&Ginger/lyrics/canttakethat-lyrics.htm

Jeff Lichtman
12-05-2006, 02:11 AM
Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust

Mitchell Parish wrote the lyrics to Star Dust some time after Carmichael wrote the music.

For lyrics it's hard to beat Cole Porter: Anything Goes (http://www.lyricsondemand.com/c/coleporterlyrics/anythinggoeslyrics.html), Let's Misbehave (http://www.lyricskeeper.com/cole_porter-lyrics/225788-lets_misbehave-lyrics.htm), Night and Day (http://www2.uol.com.br/cante/lyrics/Cole_Porter_-_Night_and_day.htm). . .

12-05-2006, 03:05 AM
And if California slides into the ocean,
Like the mystics and statistics say it will,
I predict this motel will be standing,
Until I pay my bill.

- from "Desperadoes Under the Eaves"
A beautiful, beautiful verse. I haven't heard that song for a few years, but I should dig it up.

My favorite song, lyrically and overall, is "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free. (http://www.theguitarguy.com/iwishik2.htm)"
I wish I could give all I'm longing to give
I wish I could live like I'm longing to live
I wish I could do all the things that I should do
Though I'm way overdue, I'd be starting anew.
That looks beyond simplistic on the page, actually. But the words are moving and it's all in the performance. Second place probably goes to "Time (http://www.officialtomwaits.com/music/m_rd_lyr.htm#Time)," by 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

From the same album, I also like "Tango Till They're Sore," particularly the beginning of the chorus
Let me fall out of the window with confetti in my hair
Deal out Jacks or better on a blanket by the stairs

12-05-2006, 04:15 AM
Atmosphere, by Joy Division, about a collapsing marriage and life:
Walk in silence, don't turn away, in silence.
Your confusion, my illusion, worn like a mask of self-hate,
Confronts and then dies.Don't walk away.

Then there's always The Smiths, I think Mozzer's lyrics were one of the best things about them:
And in a darkened under pass, I thought 'Oh God! My chance has come at last',
but then a strange fear gripped me and I just couldn't ask.
I am the son
And the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir
Of nothing in particular
Another favourite lyricist is Ian Anderson:
Oh the leaded window opened
To move the dancing candle flame
And the first moths of summer
Suicidal came, oh suicidal came

Bippy the Beardless
12-05-2006, 11:31 AM
Getting more obscure...


A spider wanders aimlessly within the warmth of a shadow
Not the regal creature of border caves
But the poor, missguided, directionless familiar
of some obscure scottish poet.

The mist crawls from the canal
Like some primordial phantom of romance
To curl, under a cascade of neon pollen
While I sit tied to the phone like an expectant father
Your carnation will rot in a vase


So you say you believe in all of mother natures laws
You lust for gold with your sharpened knives
Oh when your hoards are gathered and your enemies left to rot
You pray with your bloodstained hands at the feet of your pagan gods

Then you try to place the killers blade in my hand
You call for justice and distort the truth
Well Ive had enough of all your pretty pretty speeches
Receive your punishment
Expose your throats to my righteous claws
And let the blood flow, and [let the blood flow], flow, flow, flow


12-05-2006, 01:19 PM
Steely Dan is one of my favorite bands for lyrics...I love this part in Deacon Blues :

I crawl like a viper
Through these suburban streets
Make love to these women
Languid and bittersweet

Languid and bittersweet---how often do you hear that phrase?

Only my favorite song of all time!

In fact, any Steely Dan lyrics do it for me.
Considering the proliferation of celebrity tabloid nonsense today, I give you:

Showbiz kids make movies of themselves
And they don't give a fuck about anybody else.

Just about anything written by Sting is also at the top of my list, if only for the literary references.

And, in the 80s, no one ever turned phrases like Duran Duran, especially Come Undone and New Moon on Monday .

Ditto Dire Straits --especially Skateaway .

12-05-2006, 06:23 PM
Billy Joel Piano Man. Croce Cats Cradle.

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