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Sandyn

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So......... who do you think, any artist, any time, who wrote the best lyrics?
I love listening to music, but for me it's almost impossible to give one answer, because there are different lyrics for different moods and the best lyrics may not be in a song which is one of my favourites, There are writers who have incredible lyrics in one song and those who have one line in one song, but If I have to give one answer, I think for me, it's Tom Waits. Not sure how accurate it is, but one web sites attributes 302 songs to him and looking through the list, I see dozens of songs with incredible lyrics.
Very difficult, but if I have to choose one, it is probably 'House where nobody lives' from my favourite album 'Mule Variations'

"So if you find someone
Someone to have, someone to hold
Don't trade it for silver
Don't trade it for gold
I have all of life's treasures
And they are fine and they are good
They remind me that houses
Are just made of wood
What makes a house grand
Ain't the roof or the doors
If there's love in a house
It's a palace for sure
Without love...
It ain't nothing but a house
A house where nobody lives"

But don't judge me on that!! lol. One of my other favourites is 'I Fink U Freeky' by Die Antwoord
 

Jelly

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So......... who do you think, any artist, any time, who wrote the best lyrics?
If you forced me to pick just one, it would be tempting to play it safe and go Bob Dylan (what with the Nobel and all)...

But I think it would be Patti Smith who won out for the title in my mind.

With Honourable Mentions going to:
  • Rage Against The Machine (perhaps unexpectedly to some),
  • the Alabama 3, and
  • Neil Young...



I love listening to music, but for me it's almost impossible to give one answer, because there are different lyrics for different moods and the best lyrics may not be in a song which is one of my favourites,
I this is very much the problem, there are lots of lyrics (that don't even have to be especially clever or "good") which "speak to me" when I'm in a certain mood, but just leave me cold in others...

For example, in Clem Snide's track Jews for Jesus Blues, the refrain "now that I'm found I miss being lost", will often get me if I'm in a contemplative mood, as it brings to mind some of the difficult personal choices I've had to make to get to where I am today, and whether "The Juice was worth the Squeeze" a question I'm yet to answer satisfactorily...

Yet it's not one of what I'd say was his particularly good tracks, and is lyrically quite simple.

And some of the cleverest, most interesting lyrics which I appreciate greatly, are in songs I just don't enjoy that much because the music is jarring or simply let's it down.




But don't judge me on that!! lol. One of my other favourites is 'I Fink U Freeky' by Die Antwoord
A man of diverse tastes!

I'm also a fan of some of Die Antwoord's music although would pick "Baby's on Fire" or "Cookie Thumper" over "I Fink U Freeky"...

It's the way that the lyrics (and everything else they do) are at once an appreciation of a particular part of South African culture and searing deadpan sarcastic commentary on all of the issues that culture has under the surface I find incredible from them.
 
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Sandyn

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I forgot about Bob Dylan :oops: A lot of good stuff out there. Never heard of Clem Snide, he is really good. I love discovering new music.
I Fink U Freeky is like a piece of musical art. The video is incredible. I have watched it so many times, but always discover something new in it.
 

dzj

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When I was younger, I liked the poetry/ lyrics of Ian Dury.
Yeah, he rhymes Tina and Cortina, but still... :)
Almost 45 year since the New Boots and Panties album. Time flies.
Tom Waits, Cohen also. Quite a lot of them actually.
Pogues...
 

Jelly

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I forgot about Bob Dylan :oops: A lot of good stuff out there. Never heard of Clem Snide, he is really good. I love discovering new music.
I Fink U Freeky is like a piece of musical art. The video is incredible. I have watched it so many times, but always discover something new in it.
I forgot Lou Reed, who also deserves a mention.

If you liked Clem Snide try Dan Bern's Jerusalem (very Dylan-esque, in a 113th dream kind of way) and Two Gallants' Despite What You've Been Told... Both have a similar tone and level of accomplishment but a different "voice" (also, actual voice).

I think of Die Antwoord as being a bit like a musical equivalent to Sasha Baron-Cohen, it's not immediately obvious how clever they're being, and when you do start to peel back the veneer of brashness, you just keep seeing more interesting aspects that we're easy to miss.



I wouldn't like to say Dylan shouldn't have got the Nobel, but Leonard Cohen should have got it as well, if not first.
The thing I find interesting about Cohen is how versatile his songs can be...

Taking "Hallelujah" as an example, His version is superb, but when Jeff Buckley recorded it, it's almost unrecognisable as a track, but doesn't loose any of its power in a wholly new arrangement because the writing is just so good (although FWIW, I prefer the Buckley version).
 

Phil Pascoe

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Yes. So do I. I like Jennifer Warne's versions of some of his work as well. My sister was offered tickets for Cohen's last show in Auckland 2013 and turned them down to see someone else (who was awful).

I agree on Neil Young. I think Deja Vu - CSNY- is probably my all time time favourite album, but After the Goldrush comes close. I've never seen the fascination with Van Morrison.

Paul Simon has to be in the top few, as do Lennon/McCartney (though I never liked the Beatles) and Jagger/Richards.
 

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I always found Morrissey’s lyrics interesting, entertaining & at times thought provoking especially when backed by Jonny Marr’s fantastic guitar.
 

Timthetangent

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Spoilt for choice I reckon, but you're right in regard to some brilliant words being put to mediocre music and vice versa. Cohen has already been mentioned, but the opening lines of "One of us cannot be wrong" always made me smile. "I lit a thin green candle, to make you jealous of me. But the room just filled up with mosquitos - they'd heard that my body was free"

I always thought that Godley, Creme, Stewart & Gouldman (10cc) wrote some very clever lyrics. An example of an otherwise lacklustre melody with pun-like lyrics is the track "I hate to eat alone" and refers to the then newly-emerging Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) of that time. The line goes "Those TV dinners don't mean much to me, when you've got TV on the table and TV on TV". Similarly "I bought a flat guitar" is also a musical pun-related genius work of art.

A few years back, my first wife left me a note saying "your darkest hour is only ever 60 minutes long". She didn't claim to be the author of that line, but it was the first time I'd heard it (she passed away in 1989) but it appeared recently in a track by Mica Paris. Another recent track of hers "In broad daylight" is not the least bit funny, but powerful and emotional too.

That was a lovely diversion. Thank you for this post Sandyn.
 

Jacob

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One of my favourites is Irma Thomas "Its Raining". I heard it first in the film "Down by Law" which also features Tom Waits and a cast of nutters. Compilation here:
 

GuitardoctorW7

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So......... who do you think, any artist, any time, who wrote the best lyrics?
I love listening to music, but for me it's almost impossible to give one answer, because there are different lyrics for different moods and the best lyrics may not be in a song which is one of my favourites, There are writers who have incredible lyrics in one song and those who have one line in one song, but If I have to give one answer, I think for me, it's Tom Waits. Not sure how accurate it is, but one web sites attributes 302 songs to him and looking through the list, I see dozens of songs with incredible lyrics.
Very difficult, but if I have to choose one, it is probably 'House where nobody lives' from my favourite album 'Mule Variations'

"So if you find someone
Someone to have, someone to hold
Don't trade it for silver
Don't trade it for gold
I have all of life's treasures
And they are fine and they are good
They remind me that houses
Are just made of wood
What makes a house grand
Ain't the roof or the doors
If there's love in a house
It's a palace for sure
Without love...
It ain't nothing but a house
A house where nobody lives"

But don't judge me on that!! lol. One of my other favourites is 'I Fink U Freeky' by Die Antwoord
Check out Jason Isbell. His album "Southeastern" is sublime. A modern troubadour who I think is up there with the best (IMHO). He also has a band called The 400, again some great songwriting and performing. Oh, BTW ignore the Country & Western label that everyone seems to pin on him, Americana is more appropriate.
Enjoy
G
 

Sandyn

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If you liked Clem Snide try Dan Bern's Jerusalem (very Dylan-esque, in a 113th dream kind of way) and Two Gallants' Despite What You've Been Told
Never heard of either and both very good thanks. The lyrics of Dan Bern's song are really brilliant :D :D
 

Sandyn

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Jason Isbell. His album "Southeastern
Again an artist I hadn't heard of and really good. I love discovering new music. Often it's by accident, I hear a song on the radio, but the DJ doesn't say who it was at the end, Then I have to spend ages looking on the BBC play lists to try find who it was. Christine and the Queens-Tilted....then I saw the video, Wow!!!
The Dead South-In Hell I'll Be In Good Company....brilliant video, Stick in the wheel-Villon Song...video is Wow!!
 

Sandyn

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If anyone has some time to pass, check out Postmodern Jukebox on YouTube, They take modern songs and give then different styles from different periods in time one of my favourites is All about That Bass
 
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RobinBHM

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You won't beat this:

La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

K. Minogue.
 

TheUnicorn

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always enjoyed soulwax for their lyrics, they've viered away from that now into electronica but 'much against everyone's advice' is a great album

Also debut by bjork
 
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