I have been thinking about lyrics a lot lately. I think it started from this set of questions of the day we have been doing. First, we ask our readers which song has the best lyrics per album. (We are starting Liberty, by the way!) Then, we ask people to pick THE best lyric or line from the song that they determined had the best lyrics overall. Eventually, we will compare all of the favorite lyrics. Beyond the question of the day, I have also been listening to the new Killers album and trying to bond with it. One song, in particular, has caught my attention due to the lyrics. The song is Rut and it definitely fits how I have been feeling at/with work. Lines like, “I’m climbing but the walls keep stacking up” or “I’ve done my best defending but the punches are starting to land” make me feel as if someone is putting my feelings into words. This personal connection to the lyrics have made me want to listen to the song a lot.
When I think back to my lifetime of listening to music, I recognize that the importance of lyrics has grown on me. When I think back to falling for Duran, I think of songs like Save a Prayer and the Reflex. When I think about those songs, lyrically, they make me laugh. Save a Prayer is obviously about a one-night stand–something that my 9 year old self could not relate or connect to! The Reflex, on the other hand, just seemed silly to me as a kid. That song’s lyrics, though, are ones that people still seek understanding of. In fact, our most viewed blog post of all time is the one where I pondered what the heck the Reflex is really all about. I know that I did not connect to the song in 1984 because of the lyrics, no matter what I thought they meant. No, in 1984, it was all about whether or not the chorus was catchy and the video showed cute guys.
Yet, now, when I think about the Duran songs that I have connected with, I think of the ones that captured something in its lyrics that I can relate to. The first song that comes to my mind about that is Before the Rain. The verse that spoke to me in 2010 was this one: Little pin-pricks
And how my ears bleed
On the bomb ticks that is my heartbeat
In every life-flash
In every car crash
I hear the silence waiting to fall
Why did it speak to me? In December of 2010, I had to say good-bye to a beloved pet, Othello, and then 10 days later, I said good-bye to my grandma, my lone living grandparent. My heartbeat felt the pain of the silence that follows death and I connected with it deeply. To me, it spoke of grief. Is that what the song is about? I doubt it but there was enough there that made me feel like I was not alone in my grief–that someone else understood.
The same thing is true with Duran’s latest album, Paper Gods. I remember listening through it a few times before I really tuned into the lyrics. The song that caught my attention then? Last Night in the City, believe it or not, the exact opposite of Before the Rain. The lyrics described exactly what touring means and is like to me. It is where we get connected, whether that connection is with the band and the fans or with fans to fans. What is funny is that Rhonda connected with the lyrics around the same time. I have fond memories of a text message exchange one evening as we traded favorite lyrics back and forth and talked about not only what they could mean but, more importantly, but how and why they spoke to us. It was at that moment that I knew that I could and would bond with that album.
What about the rest of you? How much do lyrics matter? Do the lyrics need to speak to you in order to love a song? Likewise, if a song’s lyrics are silly, can you still bond with the tune?