Sometimes, I hear a song I love, but I just cannot wait to get to the juicy bit in the song lyrics – that one-liner or verse that makes you nod your head and sing along at the top of your voice. Its hits you right in the solar plexus and you shout, “yes indeed!”
It can be because the lines are poetry that speak to your very soul, or it can be simple because you love the cleverness of the word-play. Some of my favourites, I love because they are realistic, down to earth and sum up a particular aspect of life so aptly.
Here, pop people, are some of my top picks.
The Beatles – Penny Lane
Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she’s in a play,
She is anyway
I love this, because it sums up the song so very well. Penny Lane is just one street in suburban Liverpool; apart from being immortalised in vinyl by the biggest band ever to grace the planet, it’s nothing special. I lived in the area during my early twenties – the graduate years – and apart from a nice, proper local pub called The Dovedale Towers, there is nothing else that I can clearly recall about the road.
That, though, is the point of the song. Penny Lane isn’t about anyone or anywhere special, just day-to-day human life, with all the quirks and the mundanities that entails. It’s just people going about their business in one very small part of the world, yet it is poetry in motion. Life is special – joy can be found in the smallest of daily activities and in the pokiest corners of the globe.
INXS – Never Tear Us Apart
We could live
For a thousand years
But if I hurt you
I’d make wine from your tears
From everyday suburban life to the most fanciful of notions, now. I mean, as if? Who would make wine from tears? My Grandad made wine out of some odd ingredients – most memorably, dandelions – but I don’t think even he would have considered using someone’s eye emissions as an ingredient.
No-one lives for a thousand years either, Messrs Hutchence and Farriss. Of course they don’t. It’s the romance conveyed by these lines that strikes me. He wants to live with me for a thousand years! If he hurt me, he’d actually drink my tears! It speaks of such passion, and prior to the INXS songwriters, only Heathcliff himself, surely, really embodied such strength of feeling. It was probably this very intensity that led to Hutchence’s untimely death, too.
Carly Simon – You’re So Vain
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain,
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
It is, though isn’t it Carly? About ‘him’ – he, who is rumoured to be Warren Beatty, with whom Carly Simon had a fling some years ago? The singer has since confirmed that part of the song is indeed about Mr Beatty – but not all. On this excerpt, the chorus, she was silent. Having dated several other high-profile men, including James Taylor (to whom she was wed) and Mick Jagger, we can but wonder.
We’ve all known one, or more, though, haven’t we, girls? (To be fair, the boys probably have known some, too.) Those individuals that think everything revolves around them? Or those who are simply acutely aware of the power bestowed upon them, having been blessed with Greek God like looks. I’ve certainly known one of those. He was English, like me – but it was on holiday to a Greek Island… my lips are sealed.
Oasis – Cigarettes and Alcohol
Is it my imagination
Or have I finally found something worth living for?
I was looking for some action
But all I found was cigarettes and alcohol
Cigarettes, admittedly, are less of a part of everyday life than in decades past – simply because of a rapidly dwindling population of smokers – but for some, the enjoyment in life could pretty much be grimly summed up by the opening verse of this song by one of Britain’s superbands.
You might get through day, or the week, by the skin of your gritted teeth, but come the evening or weekend, it was playtime. Smoking and drinking, which often led to action of another kind, on the dance floor or in the bedroom. The very stuff of life, indeed; romantic the notion is not, but countless human lives have actually been created on the back of fags and booze – and many more sustained by those simple pleasures.
Pulp – Common People
You’ll never live like common people,
You’ll never do whatever common people do,
You’ll never fail like common people,
You’ll never watch your life slide out of view,
And dance and drink and screw,
Because there’s nothing else to do.
Very much leading on from the last listing, the lyrics once again reflect the grainy reality of survival for many folk. They dance, they drink, they fornicate – because where else do they find pleasure in the everyday matter of living?
I think it’s a message to the monied classes, too. If you’ll always have back-up, then you simply cannot fail in the same way that those without can and do. If they take a big business risk, for example, they might lose everything and, for example, never be able to buy their own home again, becoming reliant on others – landlords – to house them. With family money and backing, someone more fortunate can give things a go without the stakes being so very high.
George Michael – A Different Corner
Take me back in time, maybe I can forget
Turn a different corner and we never would have met
I love this, because it has real resonance for me and how my life has turned out so far. I literally turned a different corner – took another trip – earlier than planned when travelling in Australia. That led me to a hostel in Adelaide, where I almost immediately met my husband. It took us some years to figure it out, but here we are now, homeowners on the sunny south coast of England, with an elderly cat and a daughter soon due to start school.
I know for many there will not be such an extreme example, but I bet you there are some. Who hasn’t gone to a party or even business event and met an important person or contact, that has somehow had an impact – huge or otherwise – on their life? Which leads me neatly onto the next one…
Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Oh there ain’t no love no, Montagues or Capulets
Just banging tunes ‘n’ DJ sets ‘n’
Dirty dance floors and dreams of naughtiness!
I love loads of lines from this song, but I the clever nod to Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers is my favourite. The cleverness of these lyrics belies the age of Alex Turner – who penned the ditty – when he wrote it. He was only 20 when the album from which it came, ‘Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not’, was released. He is the son of two teachers though, which possibly explains the shrewd nod to Romeo and Juliet.
Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
Out on the wiley, windy moors
We’d roll and fall in green
You had a temper like my jealousy
Too hot, too greedy
How could you leave me
When I needed to possess you?
I hated you, I loved you, too
This song always sends shivers up my spine. I’m not really a Kate Bush fan, so this song bypassed me when I read Emily Bronte’s masterpiece in my late teens. When I heard it, one day later in life, I was suddenly blown away by how well Bush had reflected the novel so completely in her lyrics and the music.
Cathy and Heathcliff are the absolute embodiment of the often cited fine line between love and hate, their relationship the very definition of tempestuous. As for the passion – wow. Just wow.
ELO – Mr Blue Sky
Hey there mister blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you
As I write, we’re in the midst of that rarest of events in Britain – a heatwave. The sun is constantly shining, parks and beaches are crammed with unusually scantily clad bodies, desperate to soak up a few of those feel-good rays during a rushed lunch break or precious, sun-soaked day off.
The lyrics of this song just sum it up perfectly – look how happy we are to see the sun! A blue sky, too! No wonder people used to worship the sun; why these days a lack of sunshine is even recognised as the cause of a specific kind of mood disorder – SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Mr Blue – we are indeed very pleased to be with you.
This article was written by our guest blogger Polly Taylor @ BloggerByTheSea.com
Check out Polly’s very eclectic blog……There are some very entertaining and informative articles on a diverse range of subjects & topics. For instance her home made recipes are mouth watering and delicious!!
What are your favourite song lyrics? Let us know in the Reply Box below.
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