The Lyrical Conundrum
Since I already said how badass Beach House’s new record was months ago, I guess there’s nothing much to talk about. Sure, there were a few records that have came out. Some of them were good. Some of them were disappointing.
And I don’t want to talk about that, because it upsets me. (Neck of the Woods. *cough*)
There are things about music that I can’t quite explain. I can’t explain the sounds that James Horner splices together to make a sweeping composition. I can’t explain how those notes, for inexplicably no reason at all, make my hair stand on end and shivers roll down my spine. I don’t know why an extremely high note that is layered over a steady low tone will relax me. I don’t know why a soft, echoing guitar rift will send me to sleep, even in the most inconvenient situations, and I sure as shit don’t know why bass slides always put a smile on my face.
But I can explain one thing. I can explain why a lyric sends me into all those places. I can explain why a lyric will send me into a whisky drunk, a sober sleep, passionate throws, or silent contemplation…
I don’t own the words. I didn’t write them. I’m not that creative, and I famously have a list of songs that ‘I wish I fucking wrote’. I’m not going to tell you which songs I wish I wrote, but I do want to explore the difference between what the artist means and the way I perceive it on my own.
My thesis: I don’t give a fuck. It took me a long time to decide this. I have no idea what those artists did in their lives. Maybe they have done nothing different than you or I. Maybe they do the same damn boring things; maybe they are just more vocal about it. In fact, I think that is probably the case. Maybe they’re just as unimportant as the rest of us… (I say ‘maybe’ a lot in here… speculate much?)
But their lives are important to them. Just as yours should be to you. We are all one in the same. And now, I think that good lyrics are ones that I can relate my personal experiences to.
I wonder about my parents and their divorce. I listen to the song ‘House Full of Empty Rooms’ by Kathleen Edwards, and I imagine that they felt that way. I’m pretty damn sure.
I think about songs like ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ when I’m out for a good drunk.
I think about songs like ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ when I’m out for a horrific drunk.
I listen to the Beach Boys when I think I am younger than I am.
I listen to the song ‘Happy’ by the Wrens when I feel exposed.
I listen to ‘When the Levee Breaks’ when I feel like I can kick everyone’s ass.
I listen to Tori Amos and U2 when I am on a plane over the ocean.
I smoke when I listen to Lennon.
I drive fast at night with the windows rolled down to old Deftones.
I drive slow during the day with the windows rolled down to Echo and the Bunnymen.
I pretend to be cool when I listen to V.U. and Discount Guns.
I hide my collection of Lisa Loeb.
I invariably smile to the song ‘Searchlight’ by Aloha.
I like all music for the bedroom, but I prefer a tense voice with a steady cadence. (Great Northern, Silverchair, etc.)
I write letters to people while I listen to Hem.
I imagine being back home when I hear Matchbox 20.
I even think things when Peabo Bryson comes on.
The words become part of the moment. The words become part of the whisky, part of the drive, part of the terrain, the outside, the world, the life, the lover… the moment.
And all we have is a moment.
The lyric that I hate the most, because it’s true -
“I gave me heart to the Army, the only sentimental thing I could think of.” (Hell, the whole damn song… I do love this song though.)