Some Favourite Lyrics

Albertsthal Typewriter Regular

Albertsthal Typewriter Regular

Inspired by a recent post by the Music Enthusiast, (link to his blog here: https://musicenthusiast.net/) I decided to pick out some of my all-time favourite lyrics – some are humorous, some are cynical, some are beautiful, some are pot-induced and all are fantastic. Who says poetry can’t be musical?

Paul Simon: Graceland – Best ever lyric about America?
The Mississippi Delta was shining
Like a National guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war.

 

Bob Dylan: Tangled Up in Blue – Some sneaky existential relationship metaphors from America’s national bard…
She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best.

Joni Mitchell: A Case of You – One of the greatest love songs ever written.
On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice.

The Rolling Stones: Rocks Off – How to sum up rock ‘n’ roll in one lyric from the Stones’ ‘fagged out masterpiece’.
The sunshine bores the daylights out of me.
Chasing shadows moonlight mystery.
Headed for the overload,
Splattered on the dirty road,
Kick me like you’ve kicked before,
I can’t even feel the pain no more.

Neil Young: Pocahontas – 1979 Acid Western starring Marlon Brando and Neil Young on a journey through America’s past, present and future. Rolling Stone says ‘Five stars!’.
And maybe Marlon Brando
Will be there by the fire
We’ll sit and talk of Hollywood
And the good things there for hire
And the Astrodome
and the first tepee
Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me.

 

In the Light

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If someone asked me to sum up to define rock and roll in two albums – two albums that encapsulate the entire DNA, the power, the glory, the excess, the messy, vibrant artistry of rock and roll – I would choose Physical Graffiti and Exile on Main Street in an fingerclick. I’ve often said that Zeppelin are the greatest ‘albums band’ in rock for their unbroken string of near-perfect 6 albums from 1969’s Led Zeppelin to the LP in question. A string of giant, monolithic touchstones in the recorded album’s history. Forgive my constant glorification – they were the first band I ever seriously loved, and I still hold them in a sort of childlike, unquestioning revery. Don’t get me started about In Through the Out Door, though.

Physical Graffiti kicks off with Custard Pie; a mildly sexual punch to the stomach that rocks out with loose swagger, followed by the apocalyptic rocker The Rover, a showcase for Jimmy Page’s mastery of guitar production. Not a single track on this sprawling epic has the same guitar sound;¬†further solidifying the fact that, while Page isn’t the greatest ‘feel guitarist’ that he is often lauded as, he was a genius at producing, layering and recording his instrument, and Physical Graffiti is packed with these chunky, chewy, alien, tones.

Robert Plant outside Headley Grange, with the Rolling Stones’ Mobile Studio to the left

The second disc is packed with overlooked classics: Down by the Seaside and Ten Years Gone have a bittersweet calm about them, and the beautiful Bron Yr-Aur instrumental which I will post below.

By 1975, Zeppelin were disintegrating. But as so many great rock ‘n’ roll albums have showed us (Big Star’s Radio City, Exile on Main Street, Tonight’s the Night), an artist in cynical excess and disintegration makes far more interesting records than one in youthful naivety. There are moments where the band sprawl themselves naked and apathetic, and it’s fascinating: In Boogie With Stu, distant intoxicated chuckles are heard as the band relax in the garden with Ian Stewart, recording an impromptu, raggedy blues stomp.

These moments sum up exactly what the double album should be: an artist pouring every single strand of their musical DNA into an inconsistent, glorious mess of a record; it’s the unfocused spilling of one’s artistic guts out onto two plates of black plastic. That’s why so many artists have never made it out alive: Marvin Gaye never made another good album after the naked, raw emotion of Here, My Dear; the Stones never created anything of true merit album-wise after Exile on Main Street; Prince could never after live up to the majestic disorder of Sign O’ the Times. This is the case with Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin’s last stand, and arguably their most representative work.

The Old Cricketer Returns

So I haven’t been on here for a while (ages). Busy. I’m back, though! Here’s a recent discovery that is simply refusing to leave the speakers: HQ by Roy Harper (1975):

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You’ll really understand Roy Harper if you’re British. He seems to encapsulate something unexplainable about the country; his own little slither-slice of the intangible aura of England. In the most famous track on HQ, When an ‘Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease’, he captures a village cricket match as the sun sets and the brass band fades, his voice full of painfully bittersweet nostalgia for times passed. The legendary John Peel asked for this song to played in the event of his death.

HQ kicks off with a 13-minute rocker, ‘The Game’, which features Dave Gilmour, John Paul Jones and Bill Bruford. Angry rock turns to pastoral grandeur, which is then swiftly followed by ‘The Spirit Lives’, a track in which Harper takes on his ‘only true enemy’: religion. It’s refreshing to hear some angry atheism in a rock world of blues-preach (note the blasphemous tongue-in-cheek ‘walking on water’ cover art by Hipgnosis). Then follows the heavy Referendum where Roy flamboyantly displays his chops in the field of folk-metal. HQ then takes a breather for the second side for some olde quaint singer-songwritery that achieves the lush, spacey hypnotism that I consider the hallmark of¬†good folk music.

While Stormcock remains the most quietly raved about album in our music press, HQ is an overlooked delight of folk-hard-rock-prog and wacky English prose; hard beats and soft Keats with a little Guthrie mundane mysticism.

I really need to get back into the swing of writing, so forgive the feeble length of this post. Here’s the lovely nugget Forget Me Not from said album. Enjoy: