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-   -   Does it ever seem to you that songwriters get more credit than they deserve? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=601563)

davidbeinct 12-22-2020 02:06 PM

I liked your transformation of the Dadaist poem int blues. If I’m reading you right about purposely mixed diction though, I think the blues folks were careful about sound when doing so. E.g,

The lights is on people, but it happens just the same.
The lights is on, happens just the same.
In the swaying nights, you can hear the flames.

Rings true partly because “is” is more propulsive than “are.”

But “those” here isn’t as propulsive as either “the” or “them.”

I heard those shrill bells, there was spinning in the dust.
When I heard those shrill bells, there was spinning in the dust.
When the levee breaks, the dams is torn apart.

I’m going to read some more of your blog. Have you put that poem to music yet?



Quote:

Originally Posted by FrankHudson (Post 6582878)
Yes, this move to random connections and purposefully mixed diction is an old Modernist literary tactic that was at least 50 years old when Dylan started putting it to use in popular song lyrics. It originated during WWI when what passed for conventional wisdom was easily questioned by a group of artists who called themselves by a nonsense word: Dada. Some Dada lyrics and poems were just not-actual-words sounds, essentially pointing out the arbitrariness of language itself (rock'n'roll derivation, Gerry Goffin's lyrics to Barry Mann's "Who Put the Bomp...") Others used made up words or words used in nonsense ways. (Rock'n'roll derivation: I Zimbra by the Talking Heads, lyrics adapted from Dadaist Hugo Ball).

As you point out though, this kind of purposeful destruction or ignoring of normal use of language easily crosses over into meaning for a listener as the linguistic mind finds patterns just as the eye does looking at clouds or starfields.

I've translated some Dada poets myself, and it's a real challenge trying to figure out what to, well figure out as a distinct image, and what was intended to be a impenetrable random set of words.

Here's one of the most popular pieces done for my Parlando Project, translated from Dadaist Tristan Tzara "The Death of Apollinaire," a elegy written about the writer who died of the 1918 flu pandemic while still recovering from his war wounds just before the WWI armistice.

play my English translation and performance of The Death of Apollinaire

I think Tzara was sincere in writing this, or at least that was my best sense after translating it from French, other translators differ.

But when I was presented with the challenge of translating one Dadaist Hugo Ball it was a lot tougher to decide what to make into a perceptible English image and what to leave as random combinations. I wrote about that process in some detail on my blog, but the choice I ended up making was to make it into a blues (a move Dylan often choose too). After all, it's just not Dadaists who make us wonder what they're talking about, when blues like "Smokestack Lightning" are not exactly straightforward narratives even if they have undeniable power.

blog post about translating Hugo Ball's The Ghost into Ghost Blues

Here's a book that helped me consider how framing and expectations can change how one reads a song lyric compared to Modernist poetry. It takes a bunch of transcribed Blues lyrics and prints them as if they are Modernist verse, as if the pre-war Blues folks where Modernists like e e cummings or those Dadaists.

The Blues Line book listing on Goodreads

It took me a few years to decide. Yes, they were Modernists. Bob Dylan was smarter, he figured this by 1965 or so.


davidbeinct 12-22-2020 02:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mc1 (Post 6581478)
I took a little more time to reread your post. You make a lot of good points. I agree that brevity should not be a considered a barrier to greatness. There are some great short poems.

I know Dorothy Parker a little bit, and just spent some time reading some of her stuff. I liked it. It seemed miles beyond, "Don't Fear the Reaper" to me, but that's a bit of a tangent. Or is it, as I'm still trying to work out my point. Is it that the average poet is miles above the average songwriter, or that...

I don’t know about songwriters vs. poets but I’ll take Buck Dharma’s lead playing over Ms. Parker’s all day long. She was way too reliant on technique and was forever throwing in some myxolidian flurry when the song called for a tasty pentatonic phrase with plenty of breathing room.

FrankHudson 12-22-2020 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by davidbeinct (Post 6583034)
I liked your transformation of the Dadaist poem int blues. If I’m reading you right about purposely mixed diction though, I think the blues folks were careful about sound when doing so. E.g,

The lights is on people, but it happens just the same.
The lights is on, happens just the same.
In the swaying nights, you can hear the flames.

Rings true partly because “is” is more propulsive than “are.”

But “those” here isn’t as propulsive as either “the” or “them.”

I heard those shrill bells, there was spinning in the dust.
When I heard those shrill bells, there was spinning in the dust.
When the levee breaks, the dams is torn apart.

I’m going to read some more of your blog. Have you put that poem to music yet?

Thanks for reading all that and your perceptive response.

With the "those" choice I think I liked the sound of the z sounding s in those combining with the concluding s of bells. Looking at my choice again, I'm not so sure that I should go to present tense: "I hear shrill bells. There's spinning in the dust..."

My posts with audio pieces on the blog all had player gadgets to hear them, but some blog reader software (and maybe even some web browsers with some settings?) won't show them. I've started putting in alternative hyperlinks to play stuff on recent posts, but given that I've done more than 500 of them, I haven't gone back and added the alternative links to all.

Here's a link to the the Ghost Blues recording.

Play Ghost Blues

The amount of time I can put into each composition and recording varies, but given that I was doing a bit more than 2 pieces a week for most of this Project, and doing the research, writing the blog posts, and at times doing new translations of the words from other languages, you can image how fast I needed to knock out the recordings. At the time I did this recording I thought of it as demo and that I'd get together with others to do a better recording, but schedules couldn't line up and then the rest of 2020 happened.

JonPR 12-23-2020 08:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FrankHudson (Post 6582878)
Yes, this move to random connections and purposefully mixed diction is an old Modernist literary tactic that was at least 50 years old when Dylan started putting it to use in popular song lyrics.

Oh I know all about Dada (I'm an arts graduate)! :)

I don't believe Dylan was a dadaist though. Many of his lyrics - in fact most - make good sense, and have a poetic charge. Even if his poetic techniques were sometimes crude, amateurish, there are plenty of beautiful images in his songs, some of them stunning. He always took music dead seriously, even when he was trying to be funny - just not in the same way as many of his fans did. I don't think he meant to feed the nerds.
Quote:

Originally Posted by FrankHudson (Post 6582878)
As you point out though, this kind of purposeful destruction or ignoring of normal use of language easily crosses over into meaning for a listener as the linguistic mind finds patterns just as the eye does looking at clouds or starfields.

Yes, that's a kind of additional angle. You have a few possibilities:

1. Complex poetry that means something, and is understood correctly (as the poet meant it).

2. Complex poetry that means something, but is incomprehensible..

3. Complex poetry that means something, but is misinterpreted (given the wrong meanings).

4. Complex poetry that means something, but is perceived as Dada-ist nonsense (assumed to have no meaning at all).

5. Dada-ist wordplay that is clearly nonsense..

6. Dada-ist wordplay that is perceived to be complex poetry (and thereby misinterpreted).

7. Dada-ist wordplay that accidentally evokes unintended meaning.

IMO, Dylan, at different times, was responsible for 1-4. I can accept occasionally he was responsible for 5-7. And of course sometimes he just wrote fairly straightforward song lyrics, not "poetry" at all, except in the sense that they rhymed and scanned!

John Lennon was never really much good at 1-4. But (at least in I Am the Walrus) he had a good crack at 6. (His books, btw, used sardonic neologisms based on puns, with occasionally unintentional surrealist impact - i.e., they sometimes worked as 7.)

Leonard Cohen, meanwhile, barely wrote complex poetry at all. He had the skill to use common language to express deep meanings - just the occasional striking image - seemingly surreal, but loaded with meaning. ("You notice there's a highway that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder"; "The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor"; "I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet".)

(Rest of your post is great stuff, no further comment here. :))

FrankHudson 12-23-2020 09:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 6583631)
Oh I know all about Dada (I'm an arts graduate)! :)

I don't believe Dylan was a dadaist though. Many of his lyrics - in fact most - make good sense, and have a poetic charge. Even if his poetic techniques were sometimes crude, amateurish, there are plenty of beautiful images in his songs, some of them stunning. He always took music dead seriously, even when he was trying to be funny - just not in the same way as many of his fans did. I don't think he meant to feed the nerds.
Yes, that's a kind of additional angle. You have a few possibilities:

1. Complex poetry that means something, and is understood correctly (as the poet meant it).

2. Complex poetry that means something, but is incomprehensible..

3. Complex poetry that means something, but is misinterpreted (given the wrong meanings).

4. Complex poetry that means something, but is perceived as Dada-ist nonsense (assumed to have no meaning at all).

5. Dada-ist wordplay that is clearly nonsense..

6. Dada-ist wordplay that is perceived to be complex poetry (and thereby misinterpreted).

7. Dada-ist wordplay that accidentally evokes unintended meaning.

IMO, Dylan, at different times, was responsible for 1-4. I can accept occasionally he was responsible for 5-7. And of course sometimes he just wrote fairly straightforward song lyrics, not "poetry" at all, except in the sense that they rhymed and scanned!

John Lennon was never really much good at 1-4. But (at least in I Am the Walrus) he had a good crack at 6. (His books, btw, used sardonic neologisms based on puns, with occasionally unintentional surrealist impact - i.e., they sometimes worked as 7.)

Leonard Cohen, meanwhile, barely wrote complex poetry at all. He had the skill to use common language to express deep meanings - just the occasional striking image - seemingly surreal, but loaded with meaning. ("You notice there's a highway that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder"; "The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor"; "I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet".)

(Rest of your post is great stuff, no further comment here. :))

Trying to get briefer in each reply, so as not to overwhelm the thread (if I haven't passed that point already... ;)

Dang! That's a fine list there of the various ways folk, in both song lyrics and page poetry, depart from the straightforward and narrow. Yes, Lennon had a strong preference for nonsense intended as nonsense. Dylan has so many modes, but Dada and put on was one of them. He'd improvise it in his mid 60s interviews. There's a good deal of non-sense stuff in the Basement Tapes era material for example. Non-sense turned into song lyrics has an advantage, in that listeners won't necessarily be bothered by "What the heck is he talking about" if there's a nice tune, a compelling performance, some rocking riffs, or a refrain line they can relate to. I think of some of Pete Brown's lyrics for Cream.

I knew about Dada as an art movement not as a literary one before my project, I was kind of surprised at the range of the literature when I dipped into it. The couple of Tristian Tzara poems I've translated are more emotionally charged, intentionally so I think, than I expected. At least in the UK, I suspect the whole "Art School" as a place for the academic odd-balls factor led British lyricists onto that influence

You mentioning Leonard Cohen reminds me that I need to translate some more Lorca, apparently a big influence on Cohen.

Denny B 12-23-2020 10:06 AM

"Does it ever seem to you that songwriters get more credit than they deserve?"

I could pontificate, eloquently and prolifically, or I can just say No...

No, I've never, ever thought that.

JonPR 12-24-2020 04:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Denny B (Post 6583696)
"Does it ever seem to you that songwriters get more credit than they deserve?"

I could pontificate, eloquently and prolifically, or I can just say No...

No, I've never, ever thought that.

Me neither. But you're not entering into the spirit of pointless argument that is what these threads are all about! :)

(It's Xmas, we can't go boozing with pals due to lockdown, there's crap on TV, so we have to find some way to enjoy ourselves ... :D)

JonPR 12-24-2020 04:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FrankHudson (Post 6583675)
I knew about Dada as an art movement not as a literary one before my project, I was kind of surprised at the range of the literature when I dipped into it. The couple of Tristian Tzara poems I've translated are more emotionally charged, intentionally so I think, than I expected. At least in the UK, I suspect the whole "Art School" as a place for the academic odd-balls factor led British lyricists onto that influence.

Right!
Quote:

Originally Posted by FrankHudson (Post 6583675)
You mentioning Leonard Cohen reminds me that I need to translate some more Lorca, apparently a big influence on Cohen.

Go for it. We intellectuals are obviously wasted on forums like this. :D

I'm off now to read some Foucault and Derrida.

(Actually no, I'm probably going to surf some more guitar forums... :rolleyes:)

KevWind 12-24-2020 08:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 6584422)
Me neither. But you're not entering into the spirit of pointless argument that is what these threads are all about! :)

(It's Xmas, we can't go boozing with pals due to lockdown, there's crap on TV, so we have to find some way to enjoy ourselves ... :D)

Ha good point
I am old enough (just barely) to remember when beatniks sat around in their cool cat uniforms, celebrating their self anointed intellectual sophistication and individualism ,,,,
by snapping fingers at poetry readings because clapping was ....well...so plebeian and bourgeoisie

Nymuso 12-24-2020 08:20 AM

The OP is only looking at one side of things - the lyrics.

I was never a lyrics guy. Unless the lyrics make some point I find completely odious, they’re fine with me. I’m a music guy. If I don’t like the music the lyrics won’t make me like the song.

JonPR 12-24-2020 08:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KevWind (Post 6584490)
Ha good point
I am old enough (just barely) to remember when beatniks sat around in their cool cat uniforms, celebrating their self anointed intellectual sophistication and individualism ,,,,
by snapping fingers at poetry readings because clapping was ....well...so plebeian and bourgeoisie

Right. The same reason their earlier incarnations stopped dancing to jazz and sat and stroked their (ideally goatee'd) chins instead.

Where it was once "hit me daddy, swing that thang!", it was now "hmm, interesting harmonic substitution there..."
:D

KevWind 12-24-2020 09:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 6584501)
Right. The same reason their earlier incarnations stopped dancing to jazz and sat and stroked their (ideally goatee'd) chins instead.

Where it was once "hit me daddy, swing that thang!", it was now "hmm, interesting harmonic substitution there..."
:D

Ah yes , "the human condition" Sometimes sad to ponder how far we have traveled to have advanced so little.

The need for many to establish an artificial set of criteria, to justify what is fundamentally the subconscious insecurity of desperately wanting to believe we are somehow elevated just a bit from the madding crowd, has not changed much in 10 thousand years......

Denny B 12-24-2020 04:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonPR (Post 6584422)
Me neither. But you're not entering into the spirit of pointless argument that is what these threads are all about! :)

(It's Xmas, we can't go boozing with pals due to lockdown, there's crap on TV, so we have to find some way to enjoy ourselves ... :D)


All true...I think the 2020 Isolation Blues (there may be a good song there) has exhausted my usual willingness to take up either side of a good scrap...

I'll rest up over the Holidays, and try to hold up my end better next year... :)

KevWind 12-25-2020 09:42 AM

"Again and thrice be it said " :D. NO

And here is why

Consider the profundity and predictive nature of the Double D's
(Dickens)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

(Dylan)
Come gather 'round, people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown

Come writers and critics
Who prophesie with pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall

JonPR 12-26-2020 06:13 AM

"Rulers like to lay down laws
And rebels like to break them,
And the poor priests like to walk in chains
And God likes to forsake them."

Robin Williamson, October Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN84ld5xM9M

Poetry is the ability to use a few well-chosen words to express profound and complex concepts - which would take many paragraphs to explain in prose or conversation, if indeed it was possible any other way.

IMO, no one has managed to sum up the entire worlds of Politics and Religion as succinctly and perfectly as those four lines do. And he wrote that song in his teens (or early 20s at latest)! (He claims it was the first song he ever wrote, but I have my doubts there.)

Incidentally, Dylan recognised it at the time as a great song too.

nightchef 01-02-2021 09:32 PM

Great thread. As a songwriter who’s also delved somewhat into poetry (I did a master’s in medieval/Renaissance lit), I feel strongly that they are related but distinct arts. Song lyrics that work as poetry in isolation from the music are the exception. In a great song, the lyrics are inseparable from the music, and the impact of the work is not the sum but the product of the two. I’m thinking of songs like Robbie Robertson’s “It Makes No Difference,” Ray Davies’ “Waterloo Sunset”, Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl”, Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows”, Joni Mitchell’s “River”.

Songwriters like these do not get more credit than they deserve — they are makers of some of the greatest art of their time. And they are (IMHO) more truly the inheritors of figures like Shakespeare and Mozart—popular artists who wrote for the enjoyment of ordinary people as well as aristocrats and scholars—than their contemporaries plying their trade in the worlds of academic music and poetry.

Ryler 01-09-2021 09:36 AM

I enjoyed this thread and topic, though serious opposition to the premise was a a little much for me. I know exactly what the OP meant, and the spirit in which he meant it. Referring to songwriting and poetry, Nightchef just summed it up well, "I feel strongly that they are related but distinct arts." Agreed.

But I think we may have driven MC1 off. I hope not. He's a great voice on this forum.

Mr. Jelly 01-09-2021 01:56 PM

When a person states an opinion to a knowledgeable and uniformed group of people they should expect knowledgeable and uniformed opinions and answers.

TBman 01-09-2021 02:00 PM

We're supposed to listen to the lyrics? :)

Mycroft 01-09-2021 08:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly (Post 6599889)
When a person states an opinion to a knowledgeable and uniformed group of people they should expect knowledgeable and uniformed opinions and answers.

Uniformed?

PassingThru 01-09-2021 09:31 PM

Twas a dark day in Dallas, November '63
A day that will live on in infamy
President Kennedy was a-ridin' high
Good day to be livin' and a good day to die
Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
He said, "Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?"
"Of course we do. We know who you are"
Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight
Was a matter of timing and the timing was right
You got unpaid debts we've come to collect
We're gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect
We'll mock you and shock you and we'll put it in your face
We've already got someone here to take your place
The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone's eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it's a murder most foul
Hush, little children, you'll understand
The Beatles are comin', they're gonna hold your hand
Slide down the banister, go get your coat
Ferry 'cross the Mersey and go for the throat
There's three bums comin' all dressed in rags
Pick up the pieces and lower the flags
I'm going to Woodstock, it's the Aquarian Age
Then I'll go to Altamont and sit near the stage
Put your head out the window, let the good times roll
There's a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don't say Dallas don't love you, Mr. President
Put your foot in the tank and step on the gas
Try to make it to the triple underpass
Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down
Up in the red light district, like a cop on the beat
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
When you're down in Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe
Don't ask what your country can do for you
Cash on the ballot, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn
I'm going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride
The place where faith, hope, and charity died
Shoot him while he runs, boy, shoot him while you can
See if you can shoot the invisible man
Goodbye, Charlie, goodbye, Uncle Sam
Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don't give a ****
What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know
"Shut your mouth, " said the wise old owl
Business is business, and it's a murder most foul
Tommy, can you hear me? I'm the Acid Queen
I'm riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine
Riding in the backseat next to my wife
Heading straight on in to the afterlife
I'm leaning to the left, I've got my head in her lap
Hold on, I've been led into some kind of a trap
Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give
We're right down the street from the street where you live
They mutilated his body, and they took out his brain
What more could they do? They piled on the pain
But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at
For the last fifty years they've been searchin' for that
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
Send me some lovin', tell me no lie
Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
Wake up, little Susie, let's go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River, let's keep hope alive
Turn the radio on, don't touch the dials
Parkland hospital, only six more miles
You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I'm just a patsy like Patsy Cline
Never shot anyone from in front or behind
I've blood in my eye, got blood in my ear
I'm never gonna make it to the new frontier
Zapruder's film I seen night before
Seen it 33 times, maybe more
It's vile and deceitful, it's cruel and it's mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
They killed him once and they killed him twice
Killed him like a human sacrifice
The day that they killed him, someone said to me, "Son
The age of the Antichrist has just only begun"
Air Force One coming in through the gate
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel
It is what it is, and it's murder most foul
What's new, pussycat? What'd I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it's beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it's 36 hours past Judgment Day
Wolfman Jack, he's speaking in tongues
He's going on and on at the top of his lungs
Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack
Play it for me in my long Cadillac
Play me that "Only the Good Die Young"
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung
Play St. James Infirmary and the Court of King James
If you want to remember, you better write down the names
Play Etta James, too, play "I'd Rather Go Blind"
Play it for the man with the telepathic mind
Play John Lee Hooker, play "Scratch My Back"
Play it for that strip club owner named Jack
Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe
Play, "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
Play it for the First Lady, she ain't feeling any good
Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey
Take it to the limit and let it go by
Play it for Karl Wirsum, too
Looking far, far away at Down Gallow Avenue
Play tragedy, play "Twilight Time"
Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime
Play another one and "Another One Bites the Dust"
Play "The Old Rugged Cross" and "In God We Trust"
Ride the pink horse down that long, lonesome road
Stand there and wait for his head to explode
Play "Mystery Train" for Mr. Mystery
The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree
Play it for the Reverend, play it for the Pastor
Play it for the dog that got no master
Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz
Play "Blue Sky", play Dickey Betts
Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk
Charlie Parker and all that junk
All that junk and "All That Jazz"
Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz
Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd
Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd
Play the numbers, play the odds
Play "Cry Me A River" for the Lord of the gods
Play Number 9, play Number 6
Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks
Play Nat King Cole, play "Nature Boy"
Play "Down In The Boondocks" for Terry Malloy
Play "It Happened One Night" and "One Night of Sin"
There's twelve million souls that are listening in
Play "Merchant of Venice", play "Merchants of Death"
Play "Stella by Starlight" for Lady Macbeth
Don't worry, Mr. President, help's on the way
Your brothers are coming, there'll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What's this about hell?
Tell them, "We're waiting. Keep coming, " we'll get them as well
Love Field is where his plane touched down
But it never did get back up off the ground
Was a hard act to follow, second to none
They killed him on the altar of the rising sun
Play "Misty" for me and "That Old Devil Moon"
Play "Anything Goes" and "Memphis in June"
Play "Lonely At the Top" and "Lonely Are the Brave"
Play it for Houdini spinning around in his grave
Play Jelly Roll Morton, play "Lucille"
Play "Deep In a Dream", and play "Driving Wheel"
Play "Moonlight Sonata" in F-sharp
And "A Key to the Highway" for the king on the harp
Play "Marching Through Georgia" and "Dumbarton's Drums"
Play darkness, and death will come when it comes
Play "Love Me Or Leave Me" by the great Bud Powell
Play "The Blood-stained Banner", play "Murder Most Foul"

aK_bAsh7 01-09-2021 10:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mc1 (Post 6581051)
I like songs, and appreciate good lyrics. They can be powerful and meaningful, and the message is certainly enhanced by their musical and repetitive nature.

However, sometimes when people talk about Dylan or Cohen or whomever, I think they give them way too much credit. They aren't really in the same ballpark as Shakespeare or Yeats, but from some of the statements I read, it would appear that some think they are.

Songs are typically pretty short with lots of repeated sections. There just isn't much there, less that many nursery rhymes.

I'll end this post with the lyrics to Blowin' In the Wind.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, 'n' how many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, 'n' how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind


Well, poetry and song lyrics are distinctly different genres, with partially overlapping but quite differing skill sets.

Seems to me it might make (somewhat) more sense to compare poetry written during the sixties to Dylan's lyrics.

To judge Dylan's lyrics as somehow inferior when simply read off the page compared to a master poet-- whether Yeats or someone active in the sixties-- is to ignore the fundamental and inescapable fact that Dylan's lyrics are meant to be sung-- you can't divorce them from their musical context and experience the full impact. To state the obvious, the songwriting craft is about more than words alone. It's the fusion of text and music that gives it its power. AS others have mentioned, you're comparing apples to oranges.

There are a lot of songs out there, by all kinds of songwriters. Why not simply listen to what you enjoy and allow others to do the same?


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