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Tuesday, October 26, 2004


David Byrne once said something to the effect that lyrics simply serve to make people listen to a song for longer than they would otherwise, this may or may not be true, but I know that if I don't like the lyric I won't like the song. A truly well crafted lyric serves the song with it's relationship to the melody, tempo, and rhythm, any wit and skillful turn of phrase is icing on the cake. To that end, I believe the best complete lyric (entire song) would be Bob Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)'. There's an endless litany (is that redundant) of greats, and I fully expect to hear about it later, but I'll drop a few more; The Band's 'It Makes No Difference' comes to mind as does Elvis Costello's 'Watching The Detectives'. There are no absolutes here, because much of it comes down to taste, but I will say that there are three all time best couplets or phrases.
3) "Baby Baby Baby, Oh Baby Baby" - 'Superstar', The Carpenters (written by Bonnie of Bonnie and Delaney)
2) "My baby does the hanky panky" - 'Hanky Panky' - Tommy James
1) "Jesus rides beside me, never buys any smokes" - 'Can't Hardly Wait' - Paul Westerberg (Replacements)

It is to hard to pick the best Dylan lyric, lets just say he is one of the best at his craft. How about the best line in a song "Little old lady got mutilated late last night" we have to give wareen some credit in this blog on lyrics
Damn Shippy we do.
"If California slides into the ocean, like the mystics ans statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing, until I pay my bill" - Waren Zevon - 'Desperados Under the Eaves'
Sorry, David Byrne is woefully underestimating lyrical value. I think Jackson and I both are huge fans of lyrics. I'll toss out an obscure, but extremely great set of lyrics. The whole song is lyrically and musically brilliant, but the lyrics rank amongst my favorites. It's from Thomas Dolby's "Screen Kiss":

You and I could be a mile above the earth tremors
Hold to me and we'll climb
You could sneak out while he's sleeping
Suicide in the hills above old Hollywood
Is never gonna change the world
Change the world overnight
Any more than the invention of the six-gun - child
Any more than the discovery of Radium,
Or California tipping in the ocean

Don't know if there are any other good Dolby songs that can compare, but this one is genius…
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