Monday, January 17, 2011

It Doesn’t Even Rhyme!

I’ve got a thing for song lyrics. Yeah, I said a THING. You know… a passion… an obsession… a magnetic pull that I can’t explain or help myself from. Jim Morrison said “Music inflames temperament” and I agree with him. Let’s face it; a happy song can lift your spirits, a sad song can make you cry, a jacked metal song can make you want to hit something, whereas music you don’t like, whatever that may be, can annoy the hell out of you, and a smoky, sexy song can make you wanna... mmmmm… yeah. That may be the best kind. The point is that music is universal. Everyone likes music, it’s simply a matter of what type of music each of us prefers, but everyone likes something. For me, though, when I hear a song I like, the first thing I have to do is look up the lyrics. Why? Because the lyrics (I’m sorry to say) are poetry… and as stigmatic as it is, I’ve been known to write some poetry.

See, I’ve always been a writer. I don’t do it professionally, but anyone who’s a writer knows that you don’t have to be getting paid for it to know you’re a writer. Writers are just writers; they have no choice in the matter. Our heads are full of words and we express ourselves through them. We can’t function when we don’t write. When I was going through that horrible painful teenage crap that we all go through, I wrote tons and tons of poetry. Most of it was complete garbage, but some of it was inspired and brilliant. I had piles and piles of spiral notebooks that I carried around with me everywhere. I didn’t share much of it with people. Poetry came with a preconceived notion for most, and I didn’t feel like hearing people tell me that it didn’t rhyme, or that poetry was for dorks, or any of the other ridiculous bullshit that people tended to dish out.

If you’re one of the masses who rolls their eyes whenever the word “poetry” comes out of someone’s mouth, grab ANY song off your iPod and Google the lyrics. Read them without the music and you might find out to your own horror, that you actually like poetry. I’m really, really sorry to be the one to break that to you. Especially because if you develop an appreciation for good song lyrics, you might find out that you really don’t like some songs that you think you really like. Once you know the words, you may also find out you love certain songs you never gave a chance to before.

I have no musical talent at all. But it’s always been the artists who wrote their own stuff that I came to respect the most, because I understood the poetry aspect of the process. What amazes me, though, is how it’s ever set to music. It becomes something universally accepted the moment that music is added. Without the music, it’s simply a poem, and as such, not often given a second glance.

If you really begin to examine song lyrics, you might find yourself hungry for more poetry… I mean ACTUAL poetry. I recommend getting over the concept of it not rhyming immediately. Really good poetry often doesn’t. I also recommend getting over giggling at dirty words, or blushing over expressions of raw sexuality.  If you do that, you’ll come to discover that sometimes the most passion, the most feeling, and the biggest messages are conveyed with the fewest words.

For me, as a writer, there are times when prose just doesn’t cut it. There are times when it’s just a jumble of emotion that is far more understandable if it’s not untangled. There are times when a phrase says more than a paragraph. There are times when the words I have to get out of myself come in short, intense bursts and prose would just never be able to say what poetry could.

I still don’t share much of my poetry. Not because I’m concerned over people’s opinions about poetry itself, but because much of the poetry I’ve written is intensely personal. But, I suppose this post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share just one with you. So… just in case you’re curious… Here’s one in honor of my all time favorite poet, Jim Morrison.

A Drink With Him

I sat across from him at a glass table
Long since dead.
He raised his glass,
Surveyed its contents before drinking.
You know
He told me
Swishing the dark brown liquid lazily
You can go, if you want to.

I used to find those eyes so piercing
As though intent

It’s been a long time
He said
What made you come back to me?

Have I?

Looks that way.
He can be such a smartass.
Those eyes are hollow now.
Empty with drink
Glazed with trip
And they could have been so much more.

I’m older than you now.
I guess I sought you out to view the past.
Amazing, you’re so young.

Felt fourty-seven…

It was that shit in your hand.
You never put it down.
You invited it …
all its friends …
to destroy you.
Poor soul.

Your soul.

My soul, indeed!

Your soul, in need.

In need?

Looks that way.
He can be such a smartass.
You can go, if you want to.

Twenty-seven and gone
Don’t try to teach me.

You’re not happy here.
So much to see
So much to do
You’re watching it all go by in a flash
And you judge me
Turn your nose up at my glass
But my glass
And it’s friends
They were no ball and chain posing as a chair.

They killed you.
Drove you mad.
There was so much to see
So much to do

We sit in silence for a while

I confess
If only I could relax
If only I could feel free
If only I had a way out of this trap

He laughs
That smile – so bloody rare
It’s a shame you were never happy.
That smile was brighter than a thousand suns

He drains his glass
Sets it down
You can go if you want to
He says again
Gets up from our table
And suddenly those eyes are once again piercing

There was never magic to it
And yes, my glass and its friends, they may have killed me
But I lived.
You’re dying.

I flip through the journals he left me
Haven’t seen them since ‘87
I find myself laughing
I could have gone, if I’d wanted to.

Why did I seek him out?
My soul… in need.
His soul, indeed.

My old words, so ridiculous.
His words, much the same.

I can go, if I want to.

I toss the journals on the fire
Release those words
In smoke and flame
Refill his glass
And gaze thoughtfully at the swirling brown liquid
As I contemplate it

Tossing it to the fire,
I watch the flames turn brilliant blue
The sky and the sea and eyes I’ve gazed into
Perhaps his greatest words were ones he never spoke at all
Except to me
You can go, if you want to.


  1. Brilliant! I have been enjoying reading the lyrics to songs I don't like lately- and seeing them in a new light.

  2. Thanks, Jason! It's amazing when you look at the lyrics that way isn't it? I love that you have an open enough mind to read them and find appreciation for songs you didn't initally care for. You rock, my friend!