I know a lot of people don’t share my wordy-weirdness, but the deciding factor on whether I love a song or not is usually how good its lyrics are. I’m definitely one of those people who almost always has lyrics from a song as my Facebook status, but never arbitrarily. It’s always a cryptic message toward some event in my life or how I’m feeling. And if you decode it and/or identify what song it’s from, that’s how I decide we should probably be best friends.
Music is so important to most people in the world — I don’t know if it ever was unique to say, “Music is my life.” So many people have it on in the background while studying, in the car, while exercising — Our iTunes libraries have basically become the soundtracks to our lives. Its second nature to have music on even just as background noise to keep us company. And, no matter how much you want to try, you’re never going to convince someone that your taste in music is superior to someone else’s. It’s like religion and politics — Everyone’s got their own views and beliefs, and most people don’t want others’ shoved down their throats.
Along the same vein, some people are really open-minded when it comes to music. They can listen to and appreciate almost any musical genre. Others are strictly grounded in a specific one. For example, I oftentimes add new songs and bands to my personal arsenal after hearing them a lot hanging out with Chris or my friends — or even if I don’t particularly like the song itself, but it triggers a fond memory. Chris, on the other hand, regularly tells me my music “makes him want to kill himself.” (Direct quote — I hear it often.) The only time he ever really listens to it is if we’re going on a trip somewhere, and I’m driving (hence, I’m in control of the radio, in accordance with the rules of the road). Usually, he combats the situation by promptly falling asleep, putting in his own headphones, or making sure we have a conversation that places the music in the background. You can’t win them all.
But I know my taste in music isn’t outlandish or offensive, and for you word weirdos out there who love lyrics, too, here are some of my top picks for lyrically amazing songs. My full list is huge, so I’ll list my overall favorites here and break the others down into situation later (bad day, breakup/argument, feel-good songs, etc.).
You can find the full lyrics to each song at the link on its title.
In no particular order:
“Mr. Larkin” – State Radio: I don’t know how I could have forgotten this one on the first publish, but if you don’t look up any other song listed here, look up this one. It’s so touching. Plus, State Radio is my favorite band that Chris has introduced to me. They get a little political once in a while and are pretty darn liberal, but Chris is a solid conservative and still loves them. We saw them in Minneapolis this spring, and I can easily say it was the best live show I’ve seen. State Radio is fronted by Chad Stokes, former lead singer of Dispatch.
Favorite Lines: “I know she knows who I am / Every now and then / Yeah she’ll squeeze my hand / It’s what I live for / And it’s why she don’t die / So Mr. Larkin won’t you / Won’t you give me this try.”
Other notable State Radio songs are “Camilo,” “Arsenic and Clover,” “Democracy in Kind,” and “Indian Moon.”
“Hard to Concentrate” – Red Hot Chili Peppers: I don’t care what anyone says — This will undeniably be the first-dance song at my wedding. My favorite lines are the chorus: “All I want is for you to be happy and / Take this moment to make you my family and / Finally you have found someone perfect and / Finally you have found … yourself.” Swoon.
<iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/21439349?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0″ width=”400″ height=”300″ frameborder=”0″></iframe><p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/21439349″>RHCP + hard to concentrate + lyrics</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user5412477″>tanja schirmer</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
“Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis” – Brand New: In my opinion, Brand New consistently has some of the best lyrics of any band. I admit, my brother is right when he says Brand New is rarely musically exciting, but lyrics are my primary factor when loving a song. By no means is this the only song by Brand New that has lyrics that can make me melt, but it’s got the most personal significance. I’m probably revealing a little more than I’d care to here, but I’ll just say I think this song gets into the head of what my ex-boyfriend was thinking toward the end of our relationship, minus the conscious that shines through.
Favorite lines: “You can sin or spend the night all alone.”
“I will lie awake / And lie for fun and fake the way I hold you / Let you fall for every empty word I say.”
“Measuring Cups” – Andrew Bird: Andrew Bird’s music is undeniably musically entertaining. What more could you expect from a singer/songwriter/professional whistler with a degree from Northwestern in violin performance? He’s such a fascinating guy. He claims his lyrics aren’t meant to be anything profound; Bird says he simply chooses which words sound best together in the song. Most of the time, they’re extremely complex and in elevated language, but they’re always awesome — even if you don’t fully understand them. (Honorable mention goes to “Anonanimal,” which possibly has some of the most fun lyrics ever: “I see a sea anemone / The enemy / See a sea anemone / And that’ll be the end of me.”)
Favorite Lines: “Get out your measuring cups / And we’ll play a new game / To the front of the class and we’ll measure your brain / We’ll give you a complex and we’ll give it a name.”
“Can’t have the cream when the crop and the cream are the same.”
Favorite Lines from “No Rain”: “I just want someone to say to me / I’ll always be there when you wake / You know I’d like to keep my cheeks dry today / So stay with me and I’ll have it made.”
Favorite Lines from “Change”: “I know we can’t all stay here forever / So I want to write my words on the face of today.” (Love it so much the last half is permanently inked into me.)
“Keep on dreamin’ boy ’cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.”
“When life is hard / You have to change.”
Fall Out Boy: In general. I’m serious. Sure, I loved them most at the peak of my high school angsty stage, but looking back, that’s still when they were the best. From Under the Cork Tree is still my favorite album by them. (You know, “Sugar We’re Going Down?” Yeah, that album.) Scoff if you will — haters’ gon’ hate — But I think they’re actually quite clever.
Favorite Lines: “I left my conscious pressed / Between the pages of the Bible in the drawer / What did it ever do for me, I say?” – From “XO”
“These words are all I have so I write them / I need them just to get by.”
“Why don’t you show me the little bit of spine you’ve been saving for his mattress, love?” – Both from “Dance, Dance”
“Someone old / No one new / Feeling borrowed / Always blue.” (Come on, that’s clever.) – From “I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got was this Stupid Song Written About Me”
“I’m alright in bed / But I’m better with the pen.” – From “Fame < Infamy”
“It’s just past eight and I’m feeling young and reckless / The ribbon on my wrist says ‘Do not open before Christmas.'” – From “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued” (Ah, yes. Remember the days of sentence-long song titles? Panic! at the Disco was notorious for it in their album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.
“I need to take a pill to make this town feel okay.” (Describes my hometown)
“The best part of ‘believe’ is the ‘lie.'” – Both from “Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year“
“You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” – The White Stripes: My dad found this song. I think about him every time I hear it. It’s simple and sad, and I’m sure it shares feelings of many.
Favorite Lines: “Grab hold of her fast before her feet leave the floor / And she’s out the door / ‘Cause you want / To keep her in your pocket / Where there’s no way out / Put it in the safe and lock it / ‘Cause it’s home sweet home.”
“In your own mind you know you’re lucky just to know her.”
Know any awesome lyrics that strike you? Do we share the same taste in music? Talk to me.