Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"My time is a piece of wax dropping on a termite, choking on a splinter."

Since I’m in a a Fray/Middlebrow/Dr.Write/High Touch Megastore mood today, I’ve decided to offer up a bit of interactive blogittiness. A while ago (I don’t recall when) a friend and I were talking about a lyrics and lyricism. I don’t recall the exact context but it got us onto a discussion of the poetic merits of lyrics, and why lyrics are ill-received in poetic circles. (You know those poetic circles, always with their exclamations of “that’s not poetry!” while they chain smoke cigarettes and drink espresso in dark bistros.)

The whole conversation lead me to realize that there are many lyrics that I couldn’t do with out and they sometimes run in my head as songs should. Since I recently mis-treated some lyrics, I thought I would make amends and celebrate them.

Your task, oh reader, is to quote some lyrics that have some merit for you—whether poetic, philosophic, pathetic (in the rhetorical use of the world, not the disparaging) or whatever reason something might have merit. Include the lyricist, group/singer, title, and album title, if you don’t mind, as applicable. Obey fair use, please. You may explain the significance of your choice as you see fit.

I shall respond as a regular customer.


  1. You know this all depends on the mood of the moment. Another one will be going through my head tomorrow. I only have the Maura OConnell and Linda Ronstadt versions.

    Blue Train by Dolly Parton
    Watching the long faces
    Riding this run down track
    And the lost places
    From a dream that never brings them back
    And the sad truth is
    Nothing but a cold hard fact

    I'm riding the blue train
    Over the miles yet to cover
    A ghost in a hurry to fade
    I'm taking it one way to nowhere
    Afraid you might be there

    Counting the burned bridges
    Trailing this rusted wreck
    As our back pages
    Scatter in the dust we left
    Like a pearl necklace
    Falling from around my neck

    Away down the low road
    A ticket to an empty room
    A rendezvous unknown
    To find me inside this blue train

  2. This was more difficult than I thought. I got caught up in listening to a bunch of different songs anywhere from Pixies to Pavement to Jeff Buckley to the Ramones, so I'll just stick with the first thing that came to mind (and is pretty motivated by my emotional reaction) Elliott Smith's XO (Waltz #2) from his album XO:

    first the mic then a half cigarette
    singing cathy's clown
    that's the man that she's married to now
    that's the girl that he takes around town
    she appears composed, so she is, i suppose
    who can really tell?
    she shows no emotion at all
    stares into space like a dead china doll
    i'm never gonna know you now, but i'm gonna love you anyhow
    now she's done and they're calling someone
    such a familiar name
    i'm so glad that my memories remote
    'cos i'm doing just fine hour to hour, note to note
    here it is the revenge to the tune
    "you're no good,
    you're no good you're no good you're no good"
    can't you tell that it's well understood
    i'm never gonna know you now, but i'm gonna love you anyhow
    i'm here today and expected to stay on and on and on
    i'm tired
    i'm tired
    looking out on the substitute scene
    still going strong
    xo, mom
    it's ok, it's alright, nothing's wrong
    tell mr. man with impossible plans to just leave me alone
    in the place where i make no mistakes
    in the place where i have what it takes
    i'm never gonna know you now, but i'm gonna love you anyhow
    i'm never gonna know you now, but i'm gonna love you anyhow
    i'm never gonna know you now, but i'm gonna love you anyhow

    I will say I like the way the words of the poem play off one another and am particularly struck by the image of a dead china doll.

  3. I just read what I wrote about Smith's last show ever here in good old SLC: here.

    Sad and all, I should think. His fan-maintained web site has images of the play list from the here and here.

  4. I've learned to no longer be ashamed that I'm a Prince fan ;-)

    Prince's Wherever U Go, Whatever U Do

    Whatever U play, it’s okay 2 lose
    Ooh sometimes (sometimes...)
    As long as U learn from every game U choose
    If one thing is sure, U’ll always endure
    If U try your best at everything U do
    Say what U mean and mean what U say
    The price 4 a broken heart - it‘s 2 much 2 pay
    And nothing is worth it, if U don’t have 2 try
    The higher the stakes - the higher the sky

  5. Anonymous9:01 PM

    Jim Morrison wanted to be a poet before he wanted to be a rock star, so in honor of him here's a bit from Moonlight Drive:

    Let's swim to the moon,
    Let's climb through the tide
    Penetrate the evenin' that the
    City sleeps to hide
    Let's swim out tonight, love
    It's our turn to try
    Parked beside the ocean
    On our moonlight drive


  6. Imagine, if you will, the suburban desert wasteland post-apocolyptic intellectual nightmare that is Pocatello, Idaho. Then imagine that M-TV lands here, say, in the fall of 1983. It's not Kant, but it will do. While one supposedly does her Algebra homework and chews on a pencil, one is actually watching M-TV until she hears her mother's car in the driveway and then she acts as if she'd been making dinner, like, the whole time.
    This is how I met Elvis Costello. He was/is so sexy in a completely nerdy and smart way. And perhaps this song foreshadowed my future life as a (failed) novelist. In any case, I thought he was dreamy. Smart AND dreamy. I loved that he wore suit jackets and the way he swayed with his guitar.

    Everyday I Write The Book (from Punch the Clock, 1983)

    Don't tell me you don't know what love is
    When you're old enough to know better
    When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
    I'm a man with a mission in two or three editions
    And I'm giving you a longing look
    Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book

    Chapter One we didn't really get along
    Chapter Two I think I fell in love with you
    You said you'd stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three
    But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four, Five and Six

    The way you walk
    The way you talk, and try to kiss me, and laugh
    In four or five paragraphs
    All your compliments and your cutting remarks
    Are captured here in my quotation marks

    Don't tell me you don't know the difference
    Between a lover and a fighter
    With my pen and my electric typewriter
    Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal
    I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel

  7. Funny, I didn't even think of Dolly Parton, Prince, Jim Morrison or Elvis Costello, although they are all fine choices. Perhaps they are a fucked-up kind of dream-team line up we could persuade to go on American Idol? Now that is fucked up.

    I really like lyrics, however, and use them continually as titles, if you haven't noticed.

  8. Thank you, Clint for that visual. The all new American Idol Dream Team. It made me smile.

  9. I woke up with this in my nogging:

    "Keep a movin' Dan, don't you listen to him Dan, he's a devil not a man
    and he spreads the burnin' sand with water.
    Dan can't you see that big green tree where the waters runnin' free
    and it's waiting there for me and you.
    Water, cool water." (Sons of the Pioneers, "Cool Water")

    Now that's some lyrcizing.

  10. I think I've listened to that Sons of the Pioneers album a million times, thanks to my dad. Eliot Smith? Wilco? Sons of the Pioneers? Is this an episode of "Twins: Separated at Birth"?
    (cool, water, water, water)
    (Do you happen to be a fan of Allen Sherman?)

  11. No, I hadn't heard of Allan Sherman before.

    My Dad too listened to the Sons of the Pioneers. He was of old cowboy stock, after all.