I have always found the value of music to be hidden in the lyrics. There is something magical about the perfect pairing of music and lyrics. If you take away the lyrics, music can still be powerful and meaningful. If you take away the instruments, however, music becomes poetry, and that is something I find fascinating. I remember the first time I drove home from college this past year I made a playlist long enough to last the three hour ride. Long car rides are something I really enjoy, because it allows me time to think without anyone else around. I remember quite vividly this car ride, because it was the furthest I had ever driven alone up to that point in my life and I spent it reflecting on my first year at school. Going away to college is one of the biggest changes young adults experience and it was a very big adjustment for me. My playlist was going and going and I was thinking and thinking and “The Love Club” by Lorde came on. At the time, she was one of my favorite singers (and still is) and I really enjoy analyzing the words she puts out there. I remember the line played – “I’m sitting pretty on the throne, there’s nothing more I want, except to be alone.” I remember just saying out loud to myself, shit.
I found that midway through last year, I began writing a lot. I think I wrote more songs last year than I have in my entire life. Writing music is my creative outlet and it is a way for me to express my feelings. Obviously, no one is listening to my music, but even if they were, the listeners probably would not understand what I was feeling when I wrote the song or what I was trying to express. When thinking of it that way, nobody knows what musicians mean when they write music, and I think that is incredibly beautiful. We can speculate, but will never really know for sure what someone means in specific lines or moments. I remember I kept starting “The Love Club” over and over during that ride home and listening particularly for that sentence. Since that song is on The Love Club EP, the EP that launched her career, it is funny that that particular line would be in one of her songs, since she wasn’t necessarily ‘on the throne’ yet. I think it’s interesting. I think these little loopholes and mysteries are what make music so wonderful.
Speaking back to Ultraviolence, Lana Del Rey’s most recent release, I wrote about how I thought Lana wrote a very personal album about her previous experiences. However, since then, I have read many articles insisting none of the songs from Ultraviolence are personal, but rather they were Lana writing songs from perspectives of different characters. Like I said before, none of us will ever really know. It is so bizarre to me how music can affect certain people in very different ways for no reason whatsoever. “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” by Leonard Cohen is probably one of my top five favorite songs of all time, but why? I have no idea, to be honest. Nothing about the song is relatable to me, and it’s not even that magnificent of a song, to be blunt. Yet, something about it captivates me in an indescribable way. Similarly, in “Don’t Save Me” by HAIM, they sing “all my life I wasn’t trying to get on a highway, I was wondering which way to go” which from the moment I heard Days Are Gone, became my favorite lyric. Why? I have not a clue.
I have a leather bound journal and in it I write the lyrics that I find engaging from songs I hear. What I like the most about it is that when I flip through the pages and admire the lyrics I have written long ago, and more recently, they have no connection. No reason for being my favorites. No reason for being the ones that have jumped out to me in the past, yet they have for one reason or another. That I think, is the real beauty of lyrics. Maybe if I had woken up on the other side of the bed one morning, my journal of lyrics would be entirely different, but even if that is the case I will never know.
Some lyrics I have written down:
“You can play with fire, but you’ll get the bill.” – Bob Dylan
“What did you expect from these red lips, curses laughter and a tender kiss.” – MØ
“It’ll all work out.” – Blake Mills
“This crown that I hold is tarnished and cold.”- Johnny Cash
“We were born before the wind.” – Van Morrison
“That’s not just friendship that’s romance too, and you like music we can dance to.”- Julian Casablancas.
“She rules her life like a bird in flight.”- Fleetwood Mac
Johnny Cash for days.
Florence for days.
Fun Fact: Walk The Line is one of my favorite movies of all time.
Sorry for the poor-ish quality.
My favorite Johnny Cash song of all time.
Clip from Silver Linings Playbook. Great song, even better movie!
Johnny Cash, where to begin? My great obsession with Johnny Cash really began after watching Walk The Line, the movie based on his life. Prior to that time I was a big fan of his music, but after seeing the movie, I became more interested in his life with June and began listening to his duets with her, some of which are now my favorites (Jackson, It Ain’t Me Babe).
When thinking about the music from that time period, such as Bob Dylan and Johnny, a bit of a striking fact is that, if we’re being honest, they weren’t the best singers, they weren’t the best musicians, they were just guys who were able to come into the spotlight. Yet, when one thinks about the things they didn’t have, the attributes artists like Johnny Cash did have become more clear. He had charm, he had a cool factor and he had a mysteriously intriguing persona.
I often listen to the Live At Folsom Prison record in my room and find Johnny’s raspy and hard hitting voice quite soothing. I can’t help but sing along with the worst impression of a deep manly Johnny Cash voice that I am able to create. I think that because his music has the ability to make people sing and dance along, still to this day, is why people flocked to him when he was in the music scene. His music was catchy and he was cool and sometimes that’s all you need. Kudos to you Mr. Cash.
Current: HAIM, Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Brandi Carlile, Brooke Fraser
Older: Johnny Cash, James Taylor, Van Morrison, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac
I plan to post mainly about music so I suppose you could say this is a disclaimer.