Thursday, June 17, 2010

On Words Put to Music (Or, Kiss me, for no reason, simply because your heart wants to)

Yesterday, my few leisure minutes of reading time were interrupted by the flow of a melody traveling down the stairs and into my cozy family room. I stopped, mid-page (yes, I did) and listened to the song dance in my ears. It was the most soothing music I’d heard in a while – the a cappella voices of my daughter and her best friend.

I didn’t recognize the melody, but it didn’t matter. The sweet richness of nine-year-old girls singing together as they did God knows what in my daughter’s bedroom (I could have sworn they were on Club Penguin) was enough to remind me that written words are precious but words put to melody are heavenly, especially when the right voices bring them to life.

And that got my mind wandering to some of my favorite song lyrics. Long after my reading time, my husband came home from work and sent me on my evening walk while he fed the kids dinner. With iPod in pocket, I walked my neighborhood, listening to my favorite Spanish music, and appreciating the incredible talent of a good songwriter. We writers put so much heart into our craft, and I believe talented lyricists deserve the same respect.

I realize many of you may not be familiar with Latin vocalists, but in case you’re a fan of Google Translator, I recommend you check out Alejandro Sanz’s Cuando Nadie Me Ve, where he sings:
When nobody sees me
I can be or not be
When nobody sees me
I spin the world in reverse
When nobody sees me
My skin doesn't limit me
(Trust me, it sounds lyrically delicious in Spanish.)

And Camila’s Besame, where they sing:
Kiss me as if the world will end
Kiss me, without reason, simply because your heart wants to

On the English language scene, some of my favorites include Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat (yeah, I realize I’m dating myself) and Billy Joel’s Summer Highland Falls (did it again!). But remember, I’m in it for the lyrics here.

Anyway, I hope I’ve brought a little la-la to your day, just as my daughter and her friend brought song to mine. What are some of your favorite lyrics?


  1. I love lyrics, but am really bad at getting them from just listening. I wish the artists were required to include the lyrics with every CD purchase. The internet helps, of course. I love listening to the song while reading the lyrics, I get so much more out of it!

    By the way, my son loves Google Translator. He'll type something in English, then translate it into Arabic or Chinese or something and then ask me to read it!

  2. I'm with Vicki. Half the time I have no idea what the lyrics are. I'm making them up as I sing along. :)

  3. Some favorite lyrics? Let's see...

    I never thought I could have it so good
    You were the song that my soul understood
    But time is a river that flows through the woods
    And it lead us to places we both understood
    We'd be gone
    Before too long

    The song is "Joy" by Phish and it is a painfully beautiful tune. The whole album -- also called Joy -- is full of fantastic lyrics and incredible melodies. Cannot recommend it enough.

    There are some great ones at the end of "Lost Verses" by Sun Kil Moon. (Don't let the band name scare you away!)

    I feel oh so near
    When morning doves appear
    And ghosts of April ring
    Echo the refrain
    Soon finding a place
    In these lost verses

    They fill the foggy day
    They hide the hills away
    That steal our time
    They are the picturesque night
    The casting city lights
    On the bay flowing into the ocean glowing

    That comes off of the "April" album, which I consider to be rather fantastic.

    I could probably come up with eight pages full of lyrics from songs that I love, but those two are from albums I've been listening to quite a bit as of late. :)

  4. Vienna by Billy Joel is my hands-down favorite song lyrics. And I agree that lyrics paired with song is straight-up heavenly. Thanks for the la la!

  5. Samantha~ Vienna is a good one, but another B.J. fave of mine of mine Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.

    J.M.~ Thanks for the lyrics. Definitely going to check out Phish and Sun Kil Moon (just cuz the name of the band is so cool).

  6. Piano man by Billy Joel.
    Cat Steven's Father and Son

    There I am dating myself too

  7. The power of music is intense, no? My husband and I often debate music because while he listens to the beat, I absolutely listen for the lyrics. And I have so many fave songs it would be hard to single out even one.
    Great post, Wendy!

  8. Oh music, and beautiful lyrics, lyrics that make you think, and your heart soar, and tears glisten, and mind race...

    I love too many songs for too many reasons, but lyric wise the first one that came to mind was Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles. Poetic beauty.

    Love this post by the way - I almost heard your daughter and her friend singing. :)

  9. Aww! Music has a way of soothing souls that nothing else can come close to. Thanks for sharing!

    I don't know much Spanish Music, but I do appreciate a lot of Italian (which I'm sure you do too). Andrea Bocelli has a voice that can melt butter with only a stanza.

  10. Music is the most amazing thing. I wish I had a lovely voice and could carry a tune. I do feel inspired when listening to music. It's funny because different music genres give me different creative inspirations. I took a 6 hour road trip with my teen and listened to "her" music. She ended up taking notes for me, as I was driving, for a potential ya ms.

  11. Billy Joel has some amazing lyrics and music too. We saw him in concert a couple years ago, and the concert was so amazingly good, we bought tickets for a second show. Both nights, his music left 15,000 people thrilled.

  12. I agree. Music has its own unique power. Although, I am sure that my voice, at any age, never inspired my mother.

  13. Being a dancer at heart, my favorite music is often chosen because of the beat. BUT! I agree lyrics are the soul of a song. Here's a random one for everyone to check out - There's Hope by India.Arie

    Here's verse 2:

    Off in the back country of Brazil
    A met a young brother that made me feel
    That I could accomplish anything.
    You see just like me he wanted to sing
    He had no windows and no doors
    He lived a simple life and was extremely poor
    On top of all of that he had no eye sight,
    but that didn't keep him from seein' the light
    He said, what's it like in the USA,
    and all I did was complain
    He said-livin' here is paradise
    He taught me paradise is in your mind
    You know that