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How many people really listen or care about lyrics?

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On 13/11/2019 at 15:48, Jean-Luc Pickguard said:

Many people don't listen to lyrics - for when example brides request 'band of gold' to be played at their wedding reception

Followed by Young Hearts Run Free.

Getting back to politics, the Americans can be as bad, with Regan not having a clue about Born in the USA.

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When La Bamba was number one in the hit parade, it was not because the British record buying public had become fluent in Spanish.

Rammstein's substantial fanbase are not all fluent in German.

Unless one is contriving to be controversial or inflammatory, lyrics do not matter a jot. 

Which is what this song proved:

 

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On 13/11/2019 at 16:34, stuckinthepod said:

What are good lyrics? Everyone will have a different view. Witty, rhyming, poetic, evocative, tied in well with melody??

I love poetic lyrics.... I also love Black Sabbath who managed to rhyme "masses" with ... "masses"

Do opera lovers care about the arias?

For example a literal translation of the Departure Aria, a very important and romantic song:

This damn door sticks.

This damn door sticks.

It sticks no matter what I do.

It is marked 'pull' and indeed I am pulling.

Perhaps it should be marked 'push'?

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To me,  lyrics in a song are secondary. I can honestly say that there is no song I have ever liked mostly because of its lyrics. 

There are even plenty of songs that are great musically that are actually spoiled by their lyrics. 

If I want words I'll read a book, or watch a movie.

My enjoyment of music mostly comes from the melody, musical hooks and sounds within  a song.  I enjoy instrumental music of various genres too and don't find myself missing the lack of lyrics. 

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8 hours ago, MacDaddy said:

When La Bamba was number one in the hit parade, it was not because the British record buying public had become fluent in Spanish.

Rammstein's substantial fanbase are not all fluent in German.

Unless one is contriving to be controversial or inflammatory, lyrics do not matter a jot. 

Which is what this song proved:

 

True. As I said earlier, lyrics are probably the most important part of a song for me, but there are always exceptions. As you mentioned, Rammstein. Although I do have a rudimentary understanding of German from school, they're really all about the energy. 

Another exception for me is nonsensicle lyrics. Which is something I could never write, my brain just doesn't work that way. Yet it can still be extremely effective and clever. 

This, for me, being one of the finest examples. 

 

Edited by Newfoundfreedom

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Love that one (Birdhouse in Your Soul).  I think They Might Be Giants went on to writing songs for children.

I tend not to focus on lyrics unless they're really bad, and that ruins the song for me.

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I do love good lyrics and its raw passion to convey something. Then I always spoil songs I think I know the words to i add my own words or  what it sound like ha ha.  What a awful habit. So I do try and learn tbe right words on occasion. 

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Birdhouse in your soul arent nonesense lyrics. They may be a little unconventional in subject matter but they arent nonesense.

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10 hours ago, Krysbass said:

To me,  lyrics in a song are secondary. I can honestly say that there is no song I have ever liked mostly because of its lyrics. 

There are even plenty of songs that are great musically that are actually spoiled by their lyrics. 

If I want words I'll read a book, or watch a movie.

My enjoyment of music mostly comes from the melody, musical hooks and sounds within  a song.  I enjoy instrumental music of various genres too and don't find myself missing the lack of lyrics. 

I'm very much this as well and I tend to find that I make up my own lyrics accidentally as I'm not really listening to them. I like them to be there but they just enhance the melody. In most cases they create an image or story in my head which may possibly be way off the mark but I'm drawn more to the emotion and feel that any of the words.

In the summer, one night listening to a whole bunch of song with our singer and another musician friend. We each took turns to play a song and then we said what we thought it was about, the mood and imagery we got and what the singer was singing about. Quite remarkable the different interpritations.

Now and again though, I do like some good lyrics but I tend to be drawn in to ones telling a story or about travelling. I find most other lyrics are self-absorbed pretentious rubbish and I personally don't care if the singer is having a bad day or is gonna dance the night away and wake up in bed with you the next day 🤣😂

These for example I thought were great lyrics but then musically it's more beautiful.

 

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I completely ignore lyrics - I just hear the sounds of the words. It's pretty extreme - there are songs that I've been listening to intently for 30+ years and I probably couldn't tell you a full verse's worth of lyrics. 

If I like a song or band it's always because of the music, and I think that's true for most people. The chances that someone in that band happens to be a world-class poet are vanishingly small, and no lyrics sheet I've ever glanced at has changed my mind. 

I'm with @Krysbass, if I want brilliant wordsmithery I'll look for it in a place where people have focused on and fine-tuned word-writing as their only goal: poetry or a novel. 

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7 hours ago, Newfoundfreedom said:

Another exception for me is nonsensicle lyrics. Which is something I could never write, my brain just doesn't work that way. Yet it can still be extremely effective and clever. 

This, for me, being one of the finest examples. 

YES!!! I bought that on 45, what a tune. Their whole album was later given to me on cassette by an American lad who ended up at my school. Some absolute nonsense songs on there but they just work, if you have that nasal a singing voice though I suppose it's the only way to go. 

My tuppence worth: lyrics are important to me. I remember them, I think about them, etc. But I can see why so many people only remember the chorus or completely get it wrong. 'When a man loves a woman' is often requested for weddings etc when it's actually about her doing the dirty, for example, because people only remmebr the key line from the chorus. But that to me also makes it a clever song because you "need" to go deeper in to it for the real meaning. 

Nonsense lyrics also work for me if they're catchy or part of something bigger. We Didn't Start the Fire is just a list of stuff, but it's making a point. Unlike rappers listing out "luxury" brand names. Then there's famously "Sting 's gibberish classic" of course. 

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I am primarily a bass player, I love mixing dance music and am heavily bass influenced in that genre too.

However, when driving, I absolutely sing my head off. Everything from Ian Dury to Twelve Foot Ninja to Disclosure. Lyrics combined with good music have the power to bring me to tears. Tears of joy, sadness, even laughter. I think some of you dismiss this power unthinkingly.

I also dabble in writing poetry, but always with a rhythmic meter as if they were song lyrics.

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There are lyrics and lyrics is the answer. There are deep and emotional songs, there are entertaining songs, amusing songs and there are those where the lyrics are effectively meaningless.

And some prog has wonderful lyrics:

Standing on a golf course
Dressed in P.V.C.
I chanced upon a golf girl
Selling cups of tea
She asked me did I want one
Asked me with a grin
For three pence you can buy one
Full right to the brim
So of course I had to have one
In fact I ordered three
So I could watch the golf girl
Could see she fancied me
And later on the golf course
After drinking tea
It started raining golf balls
And she protected me
Her name was Pat
And we sat under a tree
She kissed me
We go for walks
In fine weather
All together
On the golf course
We talk in Morse
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what bugs me lyric wise are those of the  'look for the hero inside yourself' , 'learning to fly' , 'being strong'/not giving up the fight' types which frankly make me wanna barf first and  then lash out. About time someone wrote about searching for your inner bastid or accepting being a spineless loser! At least to their credit Radiohead and Beck have written lyrics of this nature

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19 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

There are lyrics and lyrics is the answer. There are deep and emotional songs, there are entertaining songs, amusing songs and there are those where the lyrics are effectively meaningless.

And some prog has wonderful lyrics:

Standing on a golf course
Dressed in P.V.C.
I chanced upon a golf girl
Selling cups of tea
She asked me did I want one
Asked me with a grin
For three pence you can buy one
Full right to the brim
So of course I had to have one
In fact I ordered three
So I could watch the golf girl
Could see she fancied me
And later on the golf course
After drinking tea
It started raining golf balls
And she protected me
Her name was Pat
And we sat under a tree
She kissed me
We go for walks
In fine weather
All together
On the golf course
We talk in Morse

The Land of the Grey and Pink is such a great album 👍

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On 13/11/2019 at 16:34, stuckinthepod said:

What are good lyrics? Everyone will have a different view. Witty, rhyming, poetic, evocative, tied in well with melody??

I love poetic lyrics.... I also love Black Sabbath who managed to rhyme "masses" with ... "masses"

For me, Black Sabbath's finest effort is this couplet from The Wizard:

"Casting his shadow, weaving his spell,

Funny clothes, tinkling bell"

I seem to recall Zeppelin have a few howlers as well; they just buried it under lots of shrieking and "ooh, babe, babe, oh yeah," and even Deep Purple's best works have featured some lines which just make you hit pause and think "Really? That was the best you could come up with?"

I always think it's a shame The Kinks didn't get more widespread recognition. If you look past the heavy guitar riffs, Ray Davies really knew how to paint a scene with his words. See also: Tom Waits, though it's usually a much darker and seedier scene.

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On 14/11/2019 at 10:45, wateroftyne said:

Having said that, I love Rush and Yes, but their lyrics suck. Based on the words alone, I wouldn't have gone near 'em.

Riick Wakeman emphatically stated the Jon Anderson's lyrics all meant something. I'm still working on working them out.

Did we ever have a mis-heard lyric thread? I quite liked Jagger's "I'm a cold Italian Pizza" on Monkey man.

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I love lyrics. There's a few Ian Dury songs where I don't much care for the music but the lyrics are fantastic so the track doesn't get skipped. Mark Knopflers lyrics absolutely make Dire Straits the band they are. Yes the music is good but the storytelling on songs like Romeo and Juliet and Sultans of Swing lift it to another level, I struggle not to be reduced to tears whenever I hear Brothers in Arms. The throwaway pop of Bronski Beat can stand the test of time if the lyrics are as strong as Smalltown Boy. I love The Cure for the imagery Robert Smiths lyrics conjure up. Tori Amos can tell a story over simple piano tune and it's beautiful. Hell I even like Stan Ridgeways Camouflage for the storytelling. Without the lyrics these songs wouldn't be held in the regard that they are IMO. 

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On 13/11/2019 at 12:26, PaulWarning said:

before we start please don't turn this thread into a Tory bashing thread, you'll only get it locked

Just watched a video of Boris Johnson saying the Clash were one of his favourite bands (along with the Rolling Stones) David Cameron is also on record 🙂 as saying Eton Rifles was one of his favourite songs.

I've had this discussion with our singer on several occasions, he really listens to lyrics and thinks they're really important, I say hardly anybody notices them apart from the chorus, I think Bojo and 'call me Dave' may just prove my point.

The answer to the OP's question is yes, millions and millions of people do. 

Record sales of The Beatles, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Bowie, Paul Simon, Squeeze, Kate Bush, Grandmaster Flash, Cole Porter, The Beautiful South, Elvis Costelloe, Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, Amy Winehouse, Carole King, Randy Newman, Eminem, the great songwriters of musicals over the years such as Sondheim, Schuman & Schuman etc, etc.. Those brilliant storytelling songwriters - and so, so many others - is testimony to the fact that millions and millions of people listen to and care about the lyrics in songs. 

Protest songs, coming of age songs, redemption songs, love songs, comedic songs, songs of love and hate, allegorical songs, songs about drugs, songs about injustice, songs about togetherness, songs about the simple joy of being alive... 

Without the words, they would just be pieces of music - great music in many cases undoubtedly - but still, they'd just be music. 

But with the words, they become something else entirely. 

'You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one.' 

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Some days I like lyrics

other days I don't

Some days all I’ll eat is cheese

Other days I won’t

 

though lyrics don’t all have to rhyme

I like it when they do

I find the tale will flow quite well

but I guess that is just me 

 

nonsense I say , it’s all nonsense, I do love good lyrics in a song. 

 

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OK I have to admit sometimes the lyric does matter and they do 'make' the song, and when a lyric hits the spot it can be quite emotional, but, generally they're just there to support the melody line and have a sing along chorus, except rap of course, don't like or understand rap, no melody, so the words must be important in them, I suppose

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On 13/11/2019 at 13:53, Bassfinger said:

I listen.  The sexual innuendo of Jethro Tull, the navel gazing of Yes, the deep and dark lyrics of Josh Homme.  Conversely, a load of stuff is just disposable pap, a mere something to bounce along with the tune, but doesn't mean it's any less entertaining.

Velvet Green's a good one. 

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On 15/11/2019 at 18:54, pfretrock said:

Did we ever have a mis-heard lyric thread? I quite liked Jagger's "I'm a cold Italian Pizza" on Monkey man.

My personal favourite: somebody was convinced that first line from The Doors' LA Woman was

"Well, it's been about an hour since an hour ago..."

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I'm a lyrics person but they must be held together on a memorable tune.  I like good thumping dance stuff (Motown etc.) but I like a song to have some meaning to it.  Singer songwriters like James Taylor and Harry Chapin have written some wonderful poetic songs and Jimmy Webb is the past master. I can't stand songs that simply repeat one line over and over.

Having said that lyrics are important I was blown away by this performance of Dutch singer Trijntje Oosterhuis I found on YouTube.  There is a concert by her on YT where she performs Burt Bacharach songs (in English) and it is superb.  I don't understand any of the words in this song (it's in Dutch) but it obviously moved fellow singer Tino Martin to tears.

It is from a brilliant TV series in the Netherlands called "Beste Zangers" and the backing combo are really tight.

 

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