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A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



Posts tagged "lyrics"

Jun 13, 2014
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Lyrics are really the last very hard problem in music. Software and hardware have changed music dramatically in the last thirty or forty years. It’s very, very easy to make pretty good music. I could take anyone in this room, and within two hours, we could make a pretty good music. (Pretty good isn’t very interesting, but pretty good is possible.) But writing songs is just about in the same place it was in the days of Chaucer.

Jan 06, 2014
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Write what you don’t know

White Christmas” was written by a Jewish guy.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game” was written by a couple of dudes who’d never been to an actual baseball game.

Bésame Mucho,” which translates to “Kiss Me A Lot,” was written by a woman who’d never been kissed.

Mar 25, 2013
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Nick Cave shows his work

The deluxe edition of Push The Sky Away comes “with a facsimile of the notebook Cave worked out the album’s lyrics in.”

"Some of it’s dreadful and painful to read, but I just thought – what the fuck," he says, before getting the actual notebook out and offering me a brief precis of his working methods. "Pages and pages of absolute shit," he sighs, turning them over. "Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. And just every now and then something, little tiny ideas start to come out."

And how refreshing to note that he, too, suffers from imposter syndrome (something I write about in chapter two of Steal Like An Artist):

After 30 years of live performance, the prospect of getting onstage still fills him with “fucking dread”. Whenever he releases a record, he says, he finds himself gripped by the fear that he is “going to be exposed, people are going to realise I was never really that good anyway, someone’s going to come round and find out I was supposed to be a different person or something like that”.

Filed under: show your work (via)

Mar 21, 2013
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I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.

Jan 14, 2013
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[Bob] Dylan said to me at one point that he, you know, he couldn’t write anymore, and I said, “Oh, what about this and what about that?” And he said, “Oh, the box wrote it.” I said, “What do you mean ‘the box’?” He said, “I write down things from movies and things I’ve heard people say and I throw them in the box.” I said, “I don’t care where you got your bits and pieces; you still put them all together.”
— Joni Mitchell talks to Morrissey (!)

Jan 06, 2013
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Wish You Were Here (2011 - Remaster)

Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here,” off Wish You Were Here (1975)

1973’s Dark Side Of The Moon made Pink Floyd rich. When they came off the tour, they were emotionally and physically exhausted, but they went into the studio in 1975 to record their next album anyways. It wasn’t going well. Here’s David Gilmour:

It was a very difficult period I have to say. All your childhood dreams had been sort of realized and we had the biggest selling records in the world and all the things you got into it for. The girls and the money and the fame and all that stuff it was all … everything had sort of come our way and you had to reassess what you were in it for thereafter, and it was a pretty confusing and sort of empty time for a while.

Eventually, Roger Waters started coming up with a new concept — they’d take this song called “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” split it in half, and make a sandwich of it with three other songs: “Welcome To The Machine,” “Have a Cigar,” and “Wish You Were Here.”

Much is made of Wish You Were Here as being a tribute to former bandmate Syd Barrett (there’s a sad, sad story of how Barrett showed up at the studio during mixing and nobody recognized him), but it’s also an album about the music business, made just over the hump of Floyd’s success.

I’ve probably heard “Wish You Were Here” hundreds of times over the years on FM radio and never given it a second thought. (“Oh, a sad song about missing someone.”) But now, when I listen to it (“the ears that are listening…”), it sounds less like a man missing a friend or a lover, and more about a man who’s gained the whole world, but is missing something in himself.

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts
Hot ashes for trees
Hot air for a cool breeze
Cold comfort for change
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

It really sounds to me like a song about success — something that is utterly useless when it comes to making art, because no matter what happens, you’re back in the studio, with “the same old fears.”

How I wish
How I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here

A beautiful, beautiful song. Sneak out into your garage some night and sit in your car and listen to it really loud. Then go hug somebody.

Jan 04, 2013
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Smog, “To Be Of Use,” off Red Apple Falls, 1997

To be of use
To be of some hard
Simple
Undeniable use

Like a spindle
Like a candle
Like a horseshoe
Like a corkscrew

To be of use
To be of use

cf. Charles Portis: “The trick is to make yourself first useful and then necessary.” (“We had both known the despair of trying to sell things that nobody wanted.”)

Dec 12, 2012
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Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy “I See A Darkness”

I love this re-recording of one my favorite songs for the EP Now Here’s My Plan. (Here’s the original.)

well I hope that someday, buddy
we have peace in our lives
together or apart
alone or with our wives
that we can stop our whoring and pull the smiles inside
and light it up forever
and never go to sleep…

(Source: youtube.com)

Dec 10, 2012
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I got a baby’s brain and an old man’s heart.
— Alice Cooper, “I’m Eighteen

Dec 07, 2012
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