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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 7, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

    ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy

    Fiona McCann

    Some folk I know can love a song without having any notion of what’s being sung. The music takes precedence, and lyrics get sidelined in the listening process. Not me. I’m a lyrics lady, and can swing in favour of a band or singer simply by the order of words, the poetic content they put to melody. Favourites include – kind of obviously – Leonard Cohen (“Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in”), Tori Amos (“No one’s picking up the phone / Guess it’s clear he’s gone / And this little masochist / Is picking up her dress”), The Magnetic Fields (“It makes me feel blue / Pantone 292″), Bonnie Prince Billy (“A fireman her husband was/and so to give him duty/I duly tried to light a fire / upon his rightful booty”), Bell X1 (“I was other people’s children / I could always be sent home”), Sigur Ros (Ok, just kidding about the Sigur Ros bit). But you get the picture, and the list goes on and on. All time favourite? Bah, Hallelujah of course, for its perfect marrying of lyric to music (“It goes like this / the fourth, the fifth / the minor fall / and the major lift”). Yours?

    • Are we human or are we dancers?cant remember who sings it and I dont know what it means but its my favorite line in a world full of rap crap

    • Eimear says:

      Yay Magnetic Fields! I’ve had ‘When My Boy Walks Down the Street’ in my head the past week or so. “Maybe he should be illegal / He just makes life too complete …”

    • Ramblin Jack says:

      Of war and peace the truth just twists
      The curfew gull doth glides,
      upon fourlegged forest clouds the cowboy angel rides
      with his candle lit unto the sun though its glow is waxed in black,headed for the gates of Eden

      Bob Dylan “The master”
      Extract from song “The Gates Of Eden” Bob Dylan” 1965″
      Published without his permission

    • Fiona says:

      Shiner: It’s the Killers, that one.

      Eimear: I know, I love their lyrics. I could pick any one of a dozen lines, Acoustic Guitar, Absolutely Cuckoo, Washington DC. . . . classics.

      Ramblin Jack: Bob Dylan – one of the best lyricists of all time. My personal favourite is probably from Tangled Up in Blue: “And every one of them words rang true / And glowed like burnin’ coal / Pourin’ off of every page / Like it was written in my soul from me to you, /
      Tangled up in blue.”

    • Ramblin Jack says:

      My love she speaks like silence
      without ideals or violence
      she doesnt have to say shes faithfull
      yet shes true like ice, like fire
      Others carry roses making promises by the hour
      My love she laughs like the flowers ,valentines cant buy her

      Bob Dylan

    • brian says:

      sorry, i couldn’t pick just one….

      Silver Jews “How can I love you/if you won’t lie down?”

      Bob Dylan “the priest wore black on the seventh day/ and sat stone-faced while the building burned/I waited for you on the running boards/near the cypress trees while the springtime turned/ slooooooowly into autumn”

      Smog: “when they make the movie of your life/they’re going to have to ask you/to pull your own stunts/’cos nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody/could pull off the same shit as you/and still come out alright”

      Hank Williams (with plenty yodelling): “I’m gonna find me a river, one that’s cold as ice/and when I find me that river, Lord I’m gonna pay the price/I’m goin’ down in it three times but Lord I’m only comin up twice”

      and, following on from Hank, Leonard’s vision of redneck party-time:
      “all the women tear their blouses off
      and the men they dance on the polka-dots
      and it’s partner found, it’s partner lost
      and it’s hell to pay when the fiddler stops:
      it’s closing time” (and the rest of the song too…)

      and favorite song title which somebody ought to write lyrics for – Charles Mingus’ “All the things you could be by now if Sigmund Freud’s wife was your mother”

    • Kynos says:

      I guess my favourite non-Irish lyric lines must be from “When The Tigers Broke Free” by Roger Waters. Echoing exactly – exactly – an experience I had as a child. “Kind old King GeorgeSent mother a noteWhen he hearrrd that father was goneIt was I recall in the form of a scrollWith gold leaf and allAnd I found it one dayin a drawer of old photographsHidden awayAnd my eyes still grow dampTo rememberHis MajestySignedWith his own rubber stamp.”(Cept in my case it was “grandmother” and “grandfather” instead there. Hmmm. Maybe they aren’t so non-Irish lyric lines after all.

    • Kynos says:

      I’ve too many favourite Irish lyric lines to mention. But they’re all usually sung by Phil Lynott if that narrows it down. :)

    • david says:

      the killers made me think of…
      ‘he doesn’t look a thing like jesus but he/ looks like a gentleman/ like you imagined when/ you were young.

    • Aoife says:

      Have to say that the ones that caught me as a wide eyed teenager were “…and every time she sneezes I believe it’s love…” from Anna Begins by the Counting Crows.

    • Lottie says:

      Pretty much anything by Bell X1 and The Delorentos.

    • Q says:

      No kidding! I was just singing ” Acoustic guitar if you think I play hard , well you could have belonged to Steve Earle” to myself moments ago.

      Stephin Merritt is just incredibly gifted at rhymes. Pick any of his songs. Brilliance.

    • Paul says:

      The bats are in the belfry/The dew is on the moon/Where are the arms that held me/And pledged her love before/And pledged her love before – Innocent When You Dream – Tom Waits

      Alternatively – Hand in glove/the sun shines out of our behinds (!!)

    • Fiona says:

      Brian: Ooh, love the Hank lines, and that fabulous song title.

      Kynos: It’s eerie when a song speaks of your own experience so closely. What a poignant story.

      David: Yep, it’s a good line.

      Aoife: Ooh, I remember that one, and how it always lifted me. Simple, but so sweet.

      Lottie: I’m so glad – I thought I was the only one of late who enjoyed Bell X1 lyrics, so yay! I almost called this post One Stringed Harp.

      Q: I know, I was at a loss as to which Magnetic Fields song to cite – they’re all so, so good.

      Paul: I’m really glad you mentioned Tom Waits – I have to say, best opener is still “Wasted and wounded, it ain’t what the moon did . . .”

    • I’ll betray my age by saying Zig and Zag used to do a thing based on this on Ian Dempsey’s radio show when I was a kid.

      I loved “You’d better hide your belly, get out while you can” from Loco In Acapulco by The Four Tops.

    • Fiona says:

      SOP: Ha! I remember those! I loved “She dries meat gravy” by the Fine Young Canibals. And “So long, and the slug won’t let me go” – Angel of Harlem by U2.

    • Catherine says:

      Misheard lyrics/phrases are called mondegreens – a magnificent word itself!

      Best lyrics of the last few years for me are from the National’s Green Gloves – it damn near killed me the first time I heard it first:

      Falling out of touch with all my
      friends are somewhere getting wasted,
      hope they’re staying glued together,
      I have arms for them.

      Take another sip of them,
      it floats around and takes me over
      like a little drop of ink in a glass of water

      Get inside their clothes
      with my green gloves
      watch their videos, in their chairs.
      Get inside their beds
      with my green gloves
      Get inside their heads, love their loves.

    • Kynos says:

      Yeah, trust me Fiona it was eerie the first time I heard it and the five hundreth too.

    • Kynos says:

      Great word. My lady Mondegreen. Here’s a good example albeit perhaps a little deliberate! http://commercial-archive.com/commercials/maxell-israelites-1990-030-uk.

    • Kynos says:

      Here’s the original lyrics if anyone’s interested http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/hardertheycome/israelites.htm

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