7 Things: Lyrics

This is catching up for the week of April 1-7. Next will be last week. And yes, I know I’m behind this week too. When am I not behind?

Anyway, seven lyrics I really like from seven random songs.

7

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby

– “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice” written by the Dixie Chicks with Dan Wilson

This lyric by itself is really powerful to me. In ten words, it accepts full responsibility for Natalie’s words, while holding to the truth that she didn’t do anything wrong. As this line begins, I get chills every time I listen to this song. Of course, the pacing of the lyrics and crescendo of violins helps.

6

If I could paint a picture of this melody

It would be a violin without its strings

– “Heavy on My Heart” written by Anastacia and Billy Mann

You never want to wish pain on another person, but damn if songwriters don’t produce their greatest songs after extreme heartache. And breast cancer certainly comes with heartache. I love these two lines so much. The imagery is incredibly beautiful and sad. The entire song just sits heavy, but somehow soars at the same time. As it should.

5

Tongue-tied like a schoolboy, I stammered out some words

It did not seem to matter much, ’cause I don’t think she heard

She just looked clear on through me to a place back in my head

It shamed me into silence, as quietly she said

“If you want me to come with you, then that’s all right with me

I know I’m going nowhere. Anywhere’s a better place to be.”

“A Better Place to Be” written by Harry Chapin

To like Harry Chapin, you must enjoy story songs. And I do. You must also be able to forgive a voice that doesn’t please the ears of everyone. Which I can. Especially when the lyrics are this good. Overall, story wise, this is my favorite Chapin song. The song says so much about what we want, what we end up getting, the compromises we make and the memories that haunt us – all in the simple story of a lonely watchman. The lines stick with you, and it’s very much a performance piece, which would suffer terribly without just the right highs and lows.

4

‘Cause I am strong and I can prove it

And I’ve got my dreams to see me through

It’s just a mountain, I can move it

With faith enough, there’s nothin’ I can’t do

“Light of a Clear Blue Morning” written by Dolly Parton

Picking a Dolly Parton lyric is like picking a berry. They all taste good. It just depends on what you’re in the mood for. With all of Dolly’s hits, though, and her extraordinary songwriting talents, this song always stands out for me. And this lyric in particular. It’s simple, but the strength in the performance gives it a lot of oomph. (I prefer the rerecording she did in the 90s for Straight Talk over the original.) On sluggish days when the world seems heavy and you barely feel like scuffing your feet across the floor, just pull out “It’s just a mountain, I can move it” and repeat it like a mantra over and over in your head. See if your steps don’t kick up a notch.

3

And out there are children still raised on old anger

To believe there’s a reason to fight

But a piece of land’s only a piece of land

And you will not come home tonight

“Stephen” written by David Ford

It’s nearly impossible for me to pick out a David Ford lyric as a standout. Even more so than with Dolly. Not because he has no show-stopping lyrics, but because his songs are so seasoned with them. I really think of him as a poet first, which is saying something, because he’s an amazing musician. This song, though, written about a constable named Stephen Carroll, who was killed in a town in Northern Ireland, all because old tensions remain and flare up every few years, crushed me the first time I heard him perform it live. This lyric – “A piece of land’s only a piece of land” – is such a simple notion that, if taken into the hearts of all men, could change the entire world.

2

How many people die or hurt in your name?

And does that make you proud? Or does that bring you shame?

“How Do You Do?” written by Shakira, Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards and Scott Spock

Plenty of songwriters have written about a god. Some have even sent song messages to a god. In this song, Shakira addresses God, in a multitude of religious forms – indicated by addresses in other languages – directly. And she doesn’t go easy. This song is possibly the bravest song I have ever heard, and I suspect all of the comments she received regarding it weren’t positive. Most of the lyrics ask the tough questions that religious people think are sinful to ask, and then Shakira commits the ultimate sin –

She tells all of those infallible gods “You’ve made mistakes.”

And religious folks the world over condemn her to hell.

1

Sometimes people leave you

Halfway through the wood

– “No One Is Alone”, from Into the Woods written by Stephen Sondheim

Broadway is a haven for great lyrics. There are so many from which to choose. This lyric from Wicked – “Those who don’t try never look foolish” – always hits home with me. As do so many of the lyrics from Rent, Avenue Q and A Chorus Line. Of all the great Broadway lyrics, this one from Into the Woods will always be one of my favorites. As a lyric, it floats so well over the score. As a metaphor for death, it haunts.

XXX

And One to Bitch About –

I don’t wanna hurt him anymore

I don’t wanna take away his life

I don’t wanna be

(dramatic pause)

A murderer

“Unfaithful” written by Shaffer Smith, Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen

I really think the dramatic pause in this song is due to the fact that Rihanna is ashamed to sing it. Because it’s fucking stupid. The entire song is ridiculous and contradictory. I mean, “he’s more than a man” and it’s “more than love,” but “to him [you] just can’t be true”? That’s absurd. He may be more than a man, but if you can’t keep your vajayjay under control, it’s clearly not more than love.

And the thing that I hate the most about this song? The fact that I fucking love it. Unlike the lyrics, the music is outstanding and I sing right along with it. Every dumb damn lyric. Until I get to the dramatic pause. Then, I just can’t do it. I shut my pie hole and leave what I don’t want to be to the imagination. Except for those times when I fill in the lyric with “I don’t wanna sing this stupid line.”

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One Comment

  1. I love coincidences like this. Much to my discredit, I don’t think I’d ever heard that Dixie Chicks song until just yesterday, when I followed a link from a political blog I read and came to this performance:

    And.. just wow. If you haven’t seen that, I guarantee a chill or two.

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