For the love of lyrics
I love music. Always have, always will. But I also tend to believe that the world is roughly split into two camps: those who automatically pay attention to lyrics, and those who seldom do. It’s not a conscious choice, it’s just who we are and how strongly we react to words, although I intuitively suspect there are more ladies in the lyrics camp (guys, if I’m wrong here, please protest). Sure, there are many famous songs to which we all can sing along, but in the great scheme of tunes we croon, well-known texts – bar titles, an odd line and the chorus – are relatively few and far between. Personally, I’m heavily into lyrics. They leap out at me and take over my mood.
There’s nothing like an impromptu flush of optimism while hollering along to Katy Perry’s Roar or indulging in a good howl to Shirley Bassey’s Don’t Cry Out Loud. It’s all very tension releasing but not always a reaction that can easily be turned on and off. There was a time, after a particularly bitter breakup, when I avoided radios in a bid to evade a sudden emotional ambush. Any whiff of sadness and, boom! Emotion welled up and tears threatened to tumble at the most inconvenient moments until I took Shirley B’s advice to heart and toughened up. And sidestepped lifts playing sentimental music.
Mind you, addiction to words does have other more light-hearted disadvantages. It’s alarming how rapidly you can lose respect for a song when both singers in the duet are claiming I wasn’t the one who said goodbye. Umm. Or cackle with mirth at the ambiguity of And in the dead of night, I find myself a blind man in some ancient valley. Yeehaw. You go for it, girl.
And have you ever reflected on how a song can completely change if sung by a different singer of the opposite sex? I once heard ABBA’s The Winner Takes It All sung tenderly by a guy. Ok, all bets off. Perhaps it was her fault too, and not just his.
But what makes a good lyric? Ah, that beauty lies in the ear of the listener. Personally I like a lyric that is cleverly rhymed, has an interesting word rhythm or quite simply speaks to me. Any or all of these factors will strike a chord, but that’s just me. I’ll always take a thousand words over a picture.
And I could wax lyrical about songs dear to my hapless heart ad infinitum. But don’t get me started.
I just might cry. Or start to dance. All over again.
NB: I have no idea where I found this picture. I’ve had it for years. If anyone recognises it as their handiwork, please contact me and I will be delighted to credit you.