Sunday, September 16, 2007

Songs that make me well up with tears, no matter when I hear them, #25456:

"America" by Simon and Garfunkel. Never fails.

Furthermore, how is it possible that Paul Simon isn't recognized as one of the great poets of the 60s rock era? I think their image as "the group your fuddy-duddy folks liked" killed 'em during the punk era, or something -- of course that's hoo-ha, your parents liked 'em but that doesn't mean they, like, suck or something. They liked 'em because, like the Beatles, Paul Simon's songwriting spoke and continues to speak to a massive swath of people. There's something for everyone -- astonishing melodies, clever turns of phrase, gorgeous, soaring singing, interesting song structure, just exactly the kind of thing nobody's doing anymore. Okay, yeah, that makes me sound like a fuddy-duddy, but where *are* our poets? Who's writing lyrics that bowl you over? There's plenty of bands I like but nobody where I'd go "I'd stack this guy up against Paul Simon or Bob Dylan." Feh.

Someone help me across the street, will ya?


Prince Gomolvilas said...

Bright Eyes! Bright Eyes! Bright Eyes!

...Well, I go two ways with Bright Eyes. Usually, I think he's brilliant and a very accomplished lyricist. But if I'm not in the right mood, I truly think his lyrics are forced and awful and I want to kick him in the head. But you could say that about Paul Simon and Bob Dylan too.

As for great lyricists who never dim in my eyes, Eminem if you're talking contemporary and Phil Ochs if you're thinking about the old days.

Jon Busey-Hunt said...

You're right about Eminem -- well, OLD eminem, there's nothing particularly enduring about "Ass Like That" from what I like to call his "career-killer-phase." Rap in general, that's where the good lyrics are happening anymore, good point.

You're probably right about Bright Eyes. I'm also fond as hell of Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian, he does that British slice-of-life thing that Morrissey did (better, of course, but hey -- he's Morrissey) and he's really great.

Jessie said...

Wow Jon, same artist different song. For me, I can't get through "Troubled Water" without having a breakdown.

S&G are good at making people cry.

Tied for second are two songs from popular television shows. You may or may not agree. M*A*S*H-Suicide is Painless

I am crying now thinking out it.

And the closing credits for the HULK.

Bawling now. Gotta go.

Anonymous said...

The closing credits for the Hulk kill me!

But yes, I'm a sucker for, "I've got some real estate here in my bag..." BAWWWW.

Anonymous said...

The closing credits for the Hulk kill me!

But yes, I'm a sucker for, "I've got some real estate here in my bag..." BAWWWW.

vfleblanc said...

Glad to see you've got your sense of humor back :-)

Febrifuge said...

As far as S&G, I'm partial to "Bookends," but that's because we used it in my high school One-Act competition, and I cried onstage while the whole damn crowd cried in the house. It was that good.

Modern-poet-wise, I'm partial to Ike Reilly, and seeing Crowded House recently reminded me that Neil Finn is still writing lovely stuff.

sazired said...

I think Paul Simon is recognized amongst musicians as the genius that he is, but in general the popular image of S&G is of(as you so aptly put it)fuddy-duddy easy-listening elevator music. Even further than that, the lyrics get lost and overshadowed by the familiarity of the music tune itself until people hum along and only know the chorus. Sad that good music is doomed to that fate.

For me, it's Jeff Buckley's "I Want Someone Badly". I get goosebumps and usually tear up when I hear it. In fact, a lot of Buckley's songs make me bawl like a big wuss. Same with quite a bit of Tom Waits. Devendra Banhart is pretty freakin' poetic as well, but the hairy hippie guy schtick can get old.

And, I'll likely catch shit for this one, but Bono writes some pretty decent stuff. U2 ain't what they used to be...but you can't deny his lyricism is brilliant at times.

With that said, nothing touches Lennon. Nothing.

Jon Busey-Hunt said...

>>> Bono writes some pretty decent stuff.

Hey, you'll get no shit from me, I love U2, unrepentently. I'll shout it from the street-corners! I LOVE U2! In fact, I did that once and it led to a brief incarceration. Heh -- they're one of the few groups out there that tries something different each go-round, and for that they should be respected. The fact that it doesn't suck means they should be canonized.

sazired said...

FINALLY someone who understands the greatness that is U2. I'm not fond of their latest, but you're spot on about them continuously challenging themselves to do something different and unique. True poets do this. Also, the fact that early albums like Boy, October , War and Joshua Tree are still as contemporary today as they were when I was a kid is proof positive of their being made of win. I see few acts today who are still doing what U2 has consistently done.

Also, I see The Hulk, and raise you all the theme song to Diff'rent Strokes. LYRICAL GENIUS. Indeed.

Joel5000 said...

Nice stuff here, Jon.

As far as Simon goes, I think "American Tune" moves me even more than America. That one just gets me every time.

I second the nod to Neil Finn. There's a verse in "Wont Give In" off the last Finn Bros album that does it to me every time:

"Once in a while I return to the fold
To the people I call my own.
Even if time is just a flicker of light, and we all have to die alone.

What does it mean when you belong to someone?
When you're born with a name, when you carry it on?"

I've lost family this year, and started my own, so this lyric really wells me up. It doesn't read as poignant as it sounds in the song.

It means that I won't give in

joslyn said...

i recently started a blog for this very topic! just to document those songs that choke me up each time.
it's - - although something's been weird with it ever since lj servers crashed recently. maybe i could turn it into a wiki & others could post their heart-rending favorites...

current lyricists who most wow me include james mercer of the shins* (almost poems & unusual phrasing), rennie sparks of the handsome family (dark mini stories), decemberists' colin meloy (amazing period pieces even if their style isn't your taste), and joanna newsom (expand my vocabulary).
i like when it's both sincere & exceedingly literate, i guess.

i'm also moved by sigur ros, even though those are non lyrics.

i think i love neil finn for his charisma & voice more than for particular lyrics. i do marvel at how he can sing such personal details, though (aunt's suicide).

* - ["dawn breaks like a bull through the hall / never should've called / but my head's to the wall and i'm lonely" still gets me even after overexposure]