Sunday, December 18, 2005

Let Down


When I hear a song for the first time, I find that I usually ignore the lyrics and focus on purely sonic elements such as the instruments, rhythms, melody, repetitions and variations, etc. I imagine this is pretty normal. Other than the chorus, how many of us truly know the lyrics to the songs we listen to? Or maybe we know the verses and even have them memorized, but how many of us think about a particular song's lyrics as a whole, as a stand-alone text or poem? If you're a writer, especially a songwriter, this must sound outrageous. But in my experience, most people do not consider lyrics as a crucial component of a pop song. Sure, you want lyrics to be there, it's nice if they rhyme and even better if they feature a repetitious chorus. However, by and large, I'd say most people don't care one way or another what load of shit they're being fed. I'm guilty of this all of the time. If it has a catchy hook, it is easy to let bad lyrics slide.

Since I do tend to ignore the lyrics on the first go-around, I routinely trick myself into thinking I've found some great song, only to learn that the lyrics are gibberish of some sort or another. I'm trying to come up with an example for you, but I'm at a loss for now. Feel free to give me some...the point I'm trying to make is that I like well-written lyrics. That's all. A simple concept. I don't have any criteria except that I look for communication of a subjective experience, mood, message or story. The possibilities are endless. I love obtuse, abstract lyrics that say Stephen Malkmus might be inclined to write just as much as the baroque storytelling of Tom Waits. It is all so subjective, and that's what I like about it I suppose.

Anyways, I've decided that every once in a while, I'll post lyrics from a song that strikes me in one way or another. In the future, I'll avoid the long-winded preface above. Feel free to offer up your own suggestions or examples of great/awful lyrics. This weekend, I found myself listening to this...

"Let Down" (Radiohead, OK Computer)

Transport, motorways and tramlines,
starting and then stopping,
taking off and landing,
the emptiest of feelings,
disappointed people, clinging on to bottles,
and when it comes it's so, so, disappointing.

Let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

Shell smashed, juices flowing
wings twitch, legs are going,
don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel.
One day, I'm gonna grow wings,
a chemical reaction,
hysterical and useless
hysterical and

let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

Let down,
Let down,
Let down.

You know, you know where you are with,
you know where you are with,
floor collapsing, falling, bouncing back
and one day, I'm gonna grow wings,
a chemical reaction, [You know where you are,]
hysterical and useless [you know where you are,]
hysterical and [you know where you are,]

let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

1 comment:

Jay Flyer said...

Stupid lyrics? you mean anything writen by the Black Eyed Peas?... word.