Saturday, April 29, 2006

Turn a Phrase: Viking Pundit takes a look at the subject of "best pop lyric", which the British have decided is
a line from the song One which goes: "One life, with each other, sisters, brothers."
Yuck. U2's lyrics and REM's lyrics both leave me cold. For a serious pop song, it's hard to top the Beatles "Fool on the Hill," which nicely avoids all the Dylanesque pretention that was floating around in the 60s.
But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning around
John Hiatt's "Memphis in the Meantime" wasn't exactly a pop hit, but it deserves a mention for these words, played over a hot Ry Cooder riff.
If we could just get off of that beat little girl
Maybe we could find the groove
At least we can get ourselves a decent meal
Down at the Rendezvous

'Cause one more heartfelt steel guitar chord
Girl, it's gonna do me in
I need to hear some trumpet and saxophone
You know sound as sweet as sin

And after we get good and greasy
Baby we can come back home
Put the cowhorns back on the cadillac
And change the message on the Code-a-Phone

But let's go to Memphis in the meantime, baby.
Grittiest lyric? Tom Waits, naturally, from "Heartattack and Vine":
See that little Jersey girl in the see-through top
With the pedal-pushers sucking on a soda pop?
Well I bet she's still a virgin, but it's only twenty-five 'til nine
You can see a million of 'em on Heartattack and Vine
Precious? I'll take Elvis Costello.
Don't get smart or sarcastic
He snaps back just like elastic
Spare us the theatrics and the verbal gymnastics
We break wise guys just like matchsticks
Finally, a sentimental favorite, from Astral Weeks.
Down on Cyprus Avenue
With a childlike vision leaping into view
Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe
Ford & Fitzroy, Madame George
Marching with the soldier boy behind
He's much older with hat on drinking wine
And that smell of sweet perfume comes drifting through
The cool night air like Shalimar
And outside they're making all the stops
The kids out in the street collecting bottle-tops
Gone for cigarettes and matches in the shops
Happy taken Madame George
And one more that I love, just for kicks.
She went away for the holidays
Said she's going to L.A.
But she never got there
She never got there
She never got there, they say

The KKK took my baby away
They took her away
Away from me
The KKK took my baby away
They took her away
Away from me
Over to you, lads.

1 comment:

Razor said...

Ummm, Eno, aside from your Beatles nomination, wasn't it about the best "pop" lyric -- not best "intellectual musings by misunderstood, misanthropic and/or marginalized crooners"? I mean, no one can very well argue about the brilliance of Waits or even Costello, I'll grant you, but to call them pop, well, maybe Costello once was (although he was a fringe mainstreamer), but Waits has been nothing but downright the anti-pop star.

I whole-heartedly endorse your disapproval of U2 or REM, however. Self-important, ironic or over-the-top anthems don't cut it for me either. And I suppose we can't very well nominate Neil Peart either.

I was going to consider Bernie Taupin until I remembered he wrote the lyrics to the god-awful "We Built This City on Rock and Roll" which Starship turned into a more hideous monstrosity than was originally contemplated.

Hmmm, let me ponder this some more...