Friday, March 23, 2012
I've always been susceptible to songs and their lyrics, but it's getting ridiculous these days. Country songs are the worst, they're so unapologetically manipulative; their whole motive seems to be to twist my heartstrings. The Darryl Worley one where the singer finds an old friend at the bar after he gets word that the guy ran out on his wife - the friend complains about the car and the washing machine broken down, three kids and the baby's fussy, his mother's health failing, no work this week, bills unpaid, and the coup de grace, he's just found out that his wife's pregnant again. The singer simply calls to the bartender for a round of drinks, and says, let's celebrate! He sings in the chorus:
"Sounds like life to me, it ain't no fantasy
It's just a common case of everyday reality
Man I know it's tough, but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you're caught up in some tragedy
Sounds like life to me, plain old destiny
Yeah the only thing for certain is uncertainty
You gotta hold on tight, just enjoy the ride
Get used to all this unpredictability
Sounds like life to me"
It knocks some sense into me, too, and opens me up to life! It's how he manages to turn the perspective around so fast; those u-turns are something else, man, about song-writing.
This week it's been Jackson Browne flooring me. I'm in the car driving, just minding my own business, when a Jackson Browne song comes on. He nonchalantly puts together a little rock and roll, a little folk, some country, a bit of blues, even some syrup. I don't mind a little syrup. But it's his words that get me - succinctly making a clear, detailed picture. The way he surprises or completes me at the end of a line.
I've been reading my way through a book on Delta Blues singers, writing down all the names. I'm trying to listen to a song or two from each one on Youtube and take notes on who I want to go back to. Some draw me in more than others, but all are deep. The simplicity and complexity of the words - I can't begin to make calculations, can only just listen, hear how, yes, words that rhyme mean the same thing, as someone said somewhere. Or how a word or short phrase conjures a vast pool of reflection or history. How a word suggests further, deeper meaning - involving expressedly the sounds it makes - about which nothing more can be said in words.