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Thread: Song lyrics that can stand alone as poetry

  1. #1

    Song lyrics that can stand alone as poetry

    There are countless songs we consider poetic or, at least, poetic sounding. However, most of these songs, when stripped of their instrumentals, may not hold up so well as serious poetry.

    What songs do you feel, on paper, could pass for poetry so much so that a reputable publishing company would want to acquire and distribute them regardless of the identity of the author?

    Just to get things started, here are a few of my personal choices:

    All My Love - Led Zeppelin
    What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong (written by Bob Thiele & George David Weiss)
    The House of the Rising Sun - authorship uncertain

    I'll stop at three for now. What songs would you suggest?

  2. #2
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    You may wish to look at this discussion from a short while ago:

    http://174.133.97.227/forums/showthread.php?t=35162
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
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  3. #3
    Drama Queen
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    I can think of ten right off the bat:

    Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles
    Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin
    Fields Of Gold by Sting
    America by Simon & Garfunkle
    The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkle
    Kid Charlemagne by Steely Dan
    Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan
    All Along The Watchtower by Bob Dylan
    The End by The Doors
    The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band

  4. #4
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    We've already had this one, that's St Lukes' point. Might as well just bump the old one.

  5. #5
    Literary Superstar Pryderi Agni's Avatar
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    How about this?

    I close both locks below the window
    I close both blinds and turn away

    Sometimes solutions aren't so simple
    Sometimes good bye's the only way

    [Chorus]
    And the sun will set for you
    The sun will set for you

    And the shadow of the day
    Will embrace the world in grey

    And the sun will set for you
    [End Chorus]

    In cards and flowers on your window
    Your friends all plead for you to stay

    Sometimes beginnings aren't so simple
    Sometimes good bye's the only way

    [Chorus]
    And the sun will set for you
    The sun will set for you

    And the shadow of the day
    Will embrace the world in grey

    And the sun will set for you

    And the shadow of the day
    Will embrace the world in grey

    And the sun will set for you

    And the shadow of the day
    Will embrace the world in grey

    And the sun will set for you
    [End Chorus]
    This is Shadow of the Day by Linkin Park.

  6. #6
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Nope... pretty bad as poetry.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
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  7. #7
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    Nope... pretty bad as poetry.
    In my opinion, pretty bad music as well. Seriously, this is the reason people don't take lyrics seriously, because the people who preach lyrics on these boards usually paste the worst of the lot - for instance, that kid who posted a rap song that was 40% censored by the board's autocensor.

  8. #8
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    Apparently, only because rap is "talked" and not "sung" his lyrics must be great, as if the only form of oral expression is poetry. Of course they have some vallue of political manifestation, but so had Sex Pistol musics. Anyways, I think the main mistake is that some genres do not demand from the musicians lyrical virtuose, or they will drift from such genre, such as rock and roll, and peeople usually think about rock and roll or similar pop genres as examples.

  9. #9
    Drama Queen
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    I may be wrong but I think it was Ray Charles who said of rap: "It's bad poetry with a monotonous drumbeat." Right on Ray.

  10. #10
    Dumb
    Lithium
    and many others by Kurt Cobain.
    animula vagula blandula

  11. #11
    GypsyDream GypsyDream's Avatar
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    Bruce Springsteen

    At night young faces grow sad and old
    and hearts of fire grow cold
    we swore blood brothers against the wind
    I'm ready to grow young again
    And hear your sister's voice calling us home
    across the open yards
    baby, we'll cut some place of our own
    with these drums and these guitars

    (from No Surrender)

  12. #12
    They paved Paradise and put in a parking lot...

    Joni Mitchell

    Be careful while bending the law...

    Gordon Lightfoot

    and many more snippets that I think make great poetry.

  13. #13
    I think many of Led Zeppelin songs are poetry in lyrics and in music as well.
    And there are several Arctic Monkeys songs worth mentioning...

  14. #14
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
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  15. #15
    One of my favourite bands is Augie March, an Australian, er, 'progressive rock' group. Their lyrics are self consciously poetic and although I don't think any of the following constitute great or even good poetry in and of themselves, to my mind (a mind not formally trained in poetry) there are enough decent lines and phrases to suggest that lyricist Glen Richards may have some talent as a poet.


    BRUNDISIUM
    They married, a dandy and a back alley tough,
    on the foreshore while kids in the needling rough,
    stayed low, in, and laid till they'd had enough
    of the somersaulting hot roll of revolting September.

    By thickets beneath the hot halo above,
    the plague bodies bathed in their talentless love.
    It's hot in the town with its back to the sea,
    O darling don't put your veil over me.

    From thinking a life was about them when, long,
    they were the thorn in its side,
    The hard men got plucked and by measures were gone,
    at pride it plucked and out, out it pried.

    Where's the shame in a gentle man? Stand him next to me.
    It's hot in the town with its back to the sea,
    O darling don't put your veil over me.

    Honey we'll go without, honey grow old and thin,
    I love you like I love my own skin.

    From thinking a life was about them but stranger,
    The soft women lowed and came in and were in,
    to swoon "O welcome hot united sailor",
    Welcome from unsteady decks and from danger,

    Did you see a new sun in the sky?
    The sun is blood and blood is a lie.
    It's hot in the town with its back to the sea,
    O darling don't put your veil over me...

    Honey we'll go without, honey grow old and thin,
    I love you like I love my own skin,
    O my bonny lies over the ocean,
    My bonny grows old and thin,
    I love her like I love my own skin...

    THERE'S SOMETHING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BLACK POOL
    There's something at the bottom of the black pool
    I daren't dredge it up not while the weather's still cool
    A feathered thing it's origins mixed and untrue
    Once a straw body, now a lamb picker, now a clove in a black brew
    I think of the peacocks of the gorge and I think of the gryphons they keep in the Tower Zoo
    An unexpected torrent swept all before it
    as it rushed on terribly through

    And left them all here, and spread through the park
    Amid the myriad mangles of the coming dark -
    of the shadow of a loon, the howl from the bloody craw
    those strange interruptions don't scare me anymore,
    Since all the while the weather was cool I stood at the crumbling edge of the black pool

    Perhaps a pidgeon fell off it's stool,
    I have drowned a conscience or two,
    There are palm trees and clouds and the undersides of drowned blues
    and sometimes the faces of people I think I knew
    I know at one time this thing flew,
    I have sunk an ambition or two,
    Now when I think to drink, then I wonder with who,
    I pretend that I'm sitting in the booth with you -

    O what a ****in' sentence, what a ****in' noise
    I don't know these girls, I don't trust these boys
    And over there in the corner, there hangs a strange bird
    Sings a strange song but it won't be heard
    A song to enquire whither went the milk money
    While the darling babes of Toorak are a'yowling for their honey

    Let's walk up this hill, let's go walking on up this hill,
    The sun is in the middle of the sky, the grass is yellow from being dry,
    There's music, there's you, many others here and I,
    Up the hill then, up where those holy lodestones lie -
    How suddenly still, and though the wind blow,
    From here we will never leave or go,
    And but for a will, but for companions,
    we might go tumbling home below,
    To a place at the table, to gamble and settle,
    Make the words "amiable" and "able"
    of resting assured, in the breast of bird,
    that I sure did not suffer a fool,
    Since all the while the weather was cool I stood at the crumbling edge of the black pool


    HEARTBEAT AND SAILS

    Scoop my brains and let my heart have action
    In its thousand million lots,
    In the dumb city dawn I am senseless and drawn to the sun
    as the blackbirds and the toppyknots.
    And in biting down on the great foam world
    What is the looming thing?
    Not money, not flesh, not happiness,
    But this, which makes me sing.
    O scoop my brains and let my heart have action
    In its thousand million lots,
    And feel the subterranean movement a fraction
    and deep under ocean, the celibate rocks.
    Has it borne me down?
    Has it run me through?
    If I give it a name do I contract it too?
    More likely this thing has been growing in me,
    Like I have grown in you.

    Scoop my brains and let my heart have action
    In its thousand million lots,
    In the dumb city dawn we dispense with the forlorn beasts
    that we were in the night, grown lean on love.
    A love which will pierce and callous and tumesce,
    O upon the birth oath the morbid bloom
    Is a child's sense of impending doom
    in a womb that is ambushed,
    in a womb that is ambushed.
    In biting down on the great foam world,
    What is the looming thing?
    Not money, not flesh, not happiness,
    But this, which makes me sing.
    Not money, not flesh, not happiness,
    But this, which makes me sing.
    Last edited by sixsmith; 12-30-2009 at 12:51 AM.
    'Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.' - Groucho Marx

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