Lyrical Genius: 10 Great Snippets of Rock

22 Jan

Top 10One of the articles I’ve read about how to attract online readership suggests creating top 10 lists. I’ve avoided this for a long time, not for some noble reason like I don’t want to stoop to using gimmicks to trawl for readers … or to beg them to read and share … and post comments … pretty please?

Anyway, I don’t do top 10 lists because I’m a wimp. I can’t stand the pressure. I choose nine solid entries then panic. I don’t want to make a lame final choice and leave out something worthy. I don’t want to slight my other favorites by not including them. I can’t prioritize them, either; it would be like choosing which of my children is my favorite. (Don’t worry, honey: it’s you. Keep reading … pretty please …)

But hey, anything to attract online readership.

I tend to be drawn toward words and phrases rather than the sweep of an entire verse or the story of an entire song. Some are clever, others conjure up vivid images. I like what sticks in my brain.  So, in no particular order, here are my choices for ten of the best snippets of lyrics in rock.

Tom Waits1. “don’t you know there ain’t no devil that’s just god when he’s drunk” – Tom Waits, Heartattack and Vine
(First time I heard this, once I deciphered what Old Golden Throat was singing, I cackled.)

2. “I said, ‘I’m so happy, I could die.’ She said, ‘Drop dead’ and left with another guy” – Elvis Costello, (Angels Want to Wear My) Red Shoes
(Always has been one of my favorites … 1980s snark at its best)

3. “When I get 400 dollars, I’m goin’ to see Melinda” – Tom Petty, Melinda
(All that’s standing between him and this guy’s happiness? Four hundred dollars. Wow.)

4. “I bet there’s rich folks eating from a fancy dining car/ They’re probably drinkin’ coffee and smoking big cigars” – Johnny Cash, Folsom Prison Blues
(This one hits me for a similar reason. What describes freedom for this prisoner? Drinkin’ coffee …)

Cash and Petty flanking Carl Perkins who was no slouch in the lyric department, either

Cash and Petty flanking Carl Perkins who was no slouch in the lyric department, either

5. “Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks” – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Walls (Circus)
(Tom Petty said this line was inspired by something Johnny Cash said to him … no wonder it works)

6. “Life is what happens to you/ While you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon, Beautiful Boy
(Word.)

7. “I could build me a castle of memories just to have somewhere to go” – John Prine, Clay Pigeons
(John Prine is one of those lyricists who tosses gems like this into so many songs, and his voice is so unassuming you don’t realize how beautiful they are at first.)

8. “I live my life like I wasn’t invited” – Wilco, Candyfloss
(Been there. Done that. May still be doing that.)

9. “I’m so broke I can’t even pay attention” – Jimi Hendrix, Taking Care of No Business
(Jimi probably stole this from some other blues guy. No matter – he delivers it with a smile)

And, oh hell, let’s just put this out there as #10:

“Now I walk with a man in my face/ Ooh, a woman in my hair
“I’ve got you all lookin’ out through my eyes/ My feet are a prayer”

The Who, Sister Disco
(All I can say is, Pete, what were you on?)

So, please read, share, post, discuss and let me know your favorites … pretty, pretty please!

See you on the flip side …

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4 Responses to “Lyrical Genius: 10 Great Snippets of Rock”

  1. Roy Sexton (Reel Roy Reviews) January 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Let’s see – these are all from top of mind. Feel too lazy to Google the exact lyrics right now:

    “Clouds in my coffee” – Carly Simon

    “I tell myself too many times why don’t you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut?” – Annie Lennox

    “Excuse me but can I be you for awhile?” – Tori Amos

    “Here we are now, entertain us.” – Nirvana

    “I am as constant as a northern star. And I said, Constantly in the darkness, where’s that at?” – Joni Mitchell

    “Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday.” – New Order

    • lpon45 January 22, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

      Nirvana almost made my list, too … great minds think alike! Thanks for adding your wisdom!

  2. Victim of the Fury April 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    Well, I guess your Top 10 list worked; it attracted me at least. Here’s two:

    1. The first is a true snippet taken out of context, but I love the following line from Danzig’s Bringer of Death: “…and know the devil is the work of God.”

    2. A longer chunk from Rush’s Anthem: “Well, I know they’ve always told you selfishness was wrong / yet it was for me, not you, I came to write this song.”

    • lpon45 April 20, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

      Good additions to the list, which really deserves to be 10 times longer than it is. Keep ’em coming!

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