I love alternative rock music and I love to sing, but the lyrics to my favorite tunes are often just plain stupid. So on Saturday when we had a crowd over for our Eighth Annual Fourth of July Chili Dog Festival and Fireworks Viewing (the fireworks are set off just a few blocks from our house), I was embarassed when my aunt came in from the patio to ask if she could help in the kitchen. It's not that I'm ashamed of my voice, you understand, it's just that my aunt caught me singing along with a Wallflowers CD.
Jakob Dylan is a wildly talented young man, but lyrics are not his forte. Surely with all of Daddy Bob's money the boy could have been sent to a school where he might have learned standard English and how to make at least a little bit of sense. No, I don't write poetry (except for this single lapse), but even I could do better than "Angel on my Bike," a catchy little number you want to sing but shouldn't because it's so doggone dumb. Here's part of it:
She knows just what I like,
the angel on my bike.
She found me down on a two ton anchor,
tangled up in wire.
She always gets it right,
the angel on my bike.
I could be killed if the train goes faster.
Well, angel, watch my life.
I can't handle a care.
I want, but I can't be there
while angel's a prayer.
Well. At least it's (marginally) better than "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." I know songs aren't always meant to tell stories; sometimes they're intended simply to convey a mood or express emotion. But even when that's the case, shouldn't they make some kind of sense? I'd just like to know why lyrics can't be more...well, lyrical. So people like me could sing the songs without feeling the need to apologize to their eyebrow-raising aunts.
My Number One Son, who is emphatically not into poetry, complained recently about having to read Alexander Pope for his British literature class. (Did he think "British literature" meant Harry Potter? Mom wonders.) The kid is a big Wallflowers fan and an even bigger Bob Dylan fan, so I'm thinking if somebody set old Mr. Pope's work to some nice accoustic guitar music, he'd really dig it.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense.
--Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (Part 2, 362-365)
Very well said. I'd be proud to sing that.
* On behalf of my husband, I'd like to thank all regular readers of this blog. You have helped save considerable wear and tear on his patience.