Thursday, July 21, 2011

Which song do you wish you'd written?

I've been thinking a lot about songs lately. I am obsessed with the Seeker Lover Keeper song Even Though I'm A Woman (with any luck I'll be able to work out how to embed it at the bottom of this post so you'll know what I'm on about...). There are two particular lines in the song that are just so, so clever.

"I love you more when I'm missing you."
"I love the danger in distance."

I wish I'd written them. I wish I'd written the song. It will resonate with anyone who's ever had a failed long-distance relationship.

I had a boyfriend once who wanted to write songs with me. I fobbed him off. I am not a poet and I believe that the best songs are accessible poetry. You hum along, you get it, but the best lines, the mysterious lines, stay with you.

Paul Kelly has a song called Don't Explain. In three verses, he outlines the end of a relationship between an older woman and a younger man.

"You sure know
How to use your hands
But you don't have
A great attention span"

The simplicity and sparsity of the language is matched by the melody. It adds up to pragmatic heartbreak.

Rod Stewart wrote the same relationship from the other perspective in Maggie May.

"The morning sun
When it's in your face
Really shows your age"

I understand those lines (and see my own lines) more and more as I get older.

On her blog today, Lady Estrogen featured another of those lines, this time from The Whitlams song Melbourne.

"If I had three lives, I'd marry her in two"

I asked The Builder for one of his favourite lines. His is from Forever Young (originally by Alphaville, covered by Youth Group in 2005)

"Youth is like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever"

There are lines that make you ache with wonder and envy. And then there are lines like my personal nomination for Worst Line In A Song Ever, courtesy of Patrick Swayze.

"She's like the wind
Through my tree"

From the song, She's Like The Wind.

But the beauty of songs is that they're so subjective. One woman's fabulous is another woman's farcical.

This is my idea of fabulous.

Which song do you wish you'd written?

[image: vinyl music decal from pedped/etsy]


  1. husband disgrees with Worst Line - Toto's 'Africa' (as beautiful as the song is) - "as sure as Kilamanjaro rise like Olympus above the Serengeti"

  2. @bonjos - Good grief, I'd forgotten that one. We have a contender there for sure!

  3. Lately I have been rather annoyed with that new Katy Perry song about the aliens. The line "I wanna be your victim" WTH?! No one wants to be a victim. Does she even know the definition of victim?!

  4. sorry for bringing down the lovely tone of heartfelt lyrics to Worst Line's discussion! It is fun though!

  5. I'm going to have to think about this one...all I can think of at the moment is a line from another Whitlams song which goes

    "She was one in a million,
    So there's 5 more just in New South Wales"

    but I'm not sure that's quite what you're looking for :-)

  6. Does anyone remember Melissa Tkautz's "Read My Lips" from back in '90-something? It featured possibly the worst line ever written - "if you wanna wait til later/hands off my detonator". Classy.

    (Although, with Simon Baker in the video clip, you could be forgiven for not paying that much attention to the lyrics...)

    Err. What was I saying? Yes. Lyrics. I am utterly in love with that Seeker Lover Keeper song since you tweeted about it the other day. It took me straight back to my twenties - and a long distance romance that never was.

    Lovely post. Now I'm thinking of all my favourite songs...and Simon Baker.

  7. I am musically challenged Al. Seriously.

    (Lovely husband bought some fancy new music system with special speakers. He asked me what I thought and the only thing I could think of to say was "loud". I kid you not.)

    But the lyrics to Corner Of The Earth by Jamiroquai...I love them.

    And Charlene. Of course. I've never been to me. (I am not kidding. LOVE those lyrics. See? I am a music tragic...)


  8. I, too, am in love with SLK - the video clip is so simple and startling.

    I wish I'd written 'Where the Wild Roses Grow', by Nick Cave. Almost every coupling is a jewel.

    As for appalling lines - I can never quite get past Shakira - 'lucky that my breasts are small and humble, so you don't confuse them with mountains' - oh, how we larfed!

  9. Jayne you beat me to it! When worst lyrics ever were mentioned, Shakira's non-mountainous breasts came to mind straight away (how icky does that sound?)

    Not sure about what song I wish I'd written - there are so many that I love and so many amazing lyrics that are incredible for different reasons. I've recently found myself humming Bachelor Girl's 'Permission to Shine' after hearing it on the radio. This verse & chorus really reflects how I've been feeling lately:

    I've been fading into the woodwork again
    And I'm feelin' like I just wanna hide
    But guess what
    I'm gonna try something just a little bit different this time

    I'm gonna give myself permission to shine
    I'm gonna shine so bright
    Gonna make every head wanna turn
    You're finally gonna see me
    Give myself permission to shine
    Gonna light up the night
    Shine a little of my light on the world

    PS I'm going to see Bachelor Girl play at a local club next week. Can't wait. :-)

  10. Everyday is like Sunday by Morrissey

    Borderline artist Madonna

    For What its Worth by Buffalo Springfield

    Imagine by John Lennon

    so many tunes that would have loved to write. George Michael also, I can't stop Allison.

  11. I can't see the video in the U.S. sad day.

    Anyway there are a number of song I wish I had written I just love when music and words combine for the prefect performance, to me there is no better high.

  12. Fantastic post.
    I've been on a Paul Kelly bender for about a month now, and my favourite is:
    "Kiss me quick, kiss me warm, put your dress on and hurry back home ..." because it takes you so swiftly from a stolen kiss to the shame of having to hide a love affair in so few words.
    I love Regina Spektor's The Calculation "You went into the kitchen cupboard, got yourself another hour, and gave half of it to me." So many songs, but these two artists are among my favourites.
    My inner music geek will be buzzing all day now. :)

  13. I am obsessed with Adele at the moment. 'The scars of your love remind me of us the keep me thinking that we almost had it all'.

    Anything she write.

  14. Worst line surely goes to R Kelly ...

    'Girl, please let me stick my key in your ignition'

    There are no words.

  15. What a fun post! I am dreadful at drudging up song lyrics when I need them (you must remember me at trivia?). I agree Tim Freedman and Paul Kelly write a mean song. As does Tim Rogers. Sally Seltman (who I believe wrote the SLK song) is a brilliant song writer, as is her bandmate Sarah Blasko. Oh God! Rhys is 'galloping' on playschool! Must be off x

  16. A song by Micheal Franti : "I was dead for a million years before I was born, I'd be dead for a million more after I'm gone. So I live to give something that can live on, like the way you hum a song when the music is gone, like the warmth of the sand when the sun goes down, I'm sitting With myself nobody else is around".

    I think it's beautiful.

  17. Well, I'm about to lose whatever credibility I had as a middle-aged adult and say Lady Gaga's Born This Way. I love the lyrics, it gives me energy, and reminds me to keep going...because I'm on the right track!

    Would it be better if I said somethign by Dan Fogelberg? He did write beautiful songs...

  18. I loved this post. The lyrics that give you goosebumps, nothing like that feeling. The Waifs have a song called "Spotlight" and I think the lyrics are beautiful. They bring up lots of personal memories and I think this song would do the same for most people. The song is all about the friends and loves and dreams of your youth.

    Seeker, Lover, Keeper are my new favorite band...Discovered them a couple of months back and I adore them


  19. My favourite lyrics are from The Lucksmiths.

    Sunlight in a Jar

    "Complex, completely credible love
    The kind that is made not handed to you from above
    Is difficult to talk about and harder to write
    Like the rhythm of a pulse, or the contours of firelight"

    and Great Lengths

    "Remember that we were poor
    Though so young as not to notice
    We could ill-afford to paint the town
    You had your father’s charm
    And thus your mother’s Volvo
    It wasn’t long before you drove me home"

  20. Unchained Melody-every word of it.Simple words that must have the music to make them whole.

  21. Fun post, Al!
    Love that Whitlams line too...The Whitlams have a lot of great lines but today I'll go with a Billy Bragg classic...
    'I don't want to change the world,
    I'm not looking for a new England,
    I'm just looking for another girl.'
    and another from Must I Paint You a Picture:
    'Crisis after crisis, with such intensity,
    This would never happen if we lived by the sea.'

    Ah the memories...

  22. From Lamb's Gorecki

    Can we stay right here, til the end of time, til the earth stops turning
    Gonna love you til the sea runs dry...
    I found the one I waited for, the one I waited for...

    All I've known, all I've felt, all I've done was leading to this.

    For me, the most perfect love song ever created...

    Unlike a particularly tragic song I wrote for a school play version of Romeo and Juliet (from which I will spare you!)

    Lots of fun and fabulous memories and despite the lyrics, I still LOVE "Africa" by Toto!

  23. hi , what's the meaning of " fibro " ? I'm iranian and I don't know .

  24. Oh Al! We are so on the same wave length. I blogged almost the same topic yesterday. Sharing some of my favourite lines. I truly admire songwriters and their way with words and their are so many beautiful lyrics.
    Here is my post:

    Love your choices by the way :)

  25. I love Jarvis Cocker's (Pulp) lyrics to pretty much any of his songs. I love the little stories they tell.

    I've always love the lines in Pearl Jam's Black:
    I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
    I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky
    Why oh why can't it be mine?

    Worst lyrics have to go to this line from Elvis's Blue Suede Shoes:

    "You can drink my liquor from an old fruit jar" Okaaaay

  26. I honestly have no clue about most of the music you mentioned. I'm hoping it's a cultural difference and not me being so completely out of touch. Unfortunately, we Americans have to take credit for Patrick Swayze's singing.

    When I was in high school, I LOVED that Alphaville song. Perfect teenage take on the world song.

    But one of my favorite lyrics comes from the song "First Recollection" from the Cowboy Junkies:

    "I've heard that the son must bear
    the burdens of the father
    but it's the daughter that is left
    to clean up the mess."

    So, so true.


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