Lyrical lines

Talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago about pop music. It was after I’d cited a Little Feat song in this post and he’d looked at a YouTube clip of Fat Man in the Bathtub.

He remarked on Lowell George’s genius in lengthening the musical line.

And I got to thinking, lengthening the musical line had implications for the lyrical line, too.

I’d picked up a couple of Dave Matthews CDs some time ago, after my ex left (he was the one with the music collection) but hadn’t listened to them much — I was aware of the songs peripherally, enough to hum along, but hadn’t paid that close attention to them. Then idly, one day, I played Under the Table and Dreaming and found myself for the first time paying real attention to it.

Matthews has been criticized for writing songs that are too monotone, something I’d found a bit off-putting too. But suddenly I was what’s going on: these pieces are actually poetry — set to music — set to jam band music.

If you transcribe the lyrics to a song like The Best of What’s Around, you can see it, as long as you don’t artifically try to insert line breaks:

Hey my friend, it seems your eyes are troubled — care to share your time with me?
Would you say you’re feeling low? And so

A good idea would be to get it off your mind.

See you and me have a better time than most can dream — have it better than the best, so we can pull on through.
Whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down — and if nothing can be done we’ll make the best of what’s around.

Turns out not where but who you’re with that really matters — that really matters.
And hurts — not much when you’re around.

And if you hold on tight to what you think is your thing, you may find you’re missing all the rest.

Well she ran up into the light surprised; her arms are open, her mind’s eye is seeing things from a better side than most can dream, on a clearer road — I feel —
Oh — you could say “she’s safe.” Whatever tears at her. Whatever holds her down — and if nothing can be done she’ll make the best of what’s around.

Turns out not where but what you think that really matters.

See you and me have a better time than most can dream — have it better than the best, so we can pull on through.
Whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down — and if nothing can be done we’ll make the best of what’s around.

Turns out not where but who you’re with that really matters — that really matters.
It hurts — not much when you’re around.

What’s amazing is that lines like this can be made to come across as so pop.

[tags] music, lyrics [/tags]

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