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My most recent single release - "My True North" - is now available on Bandcamp. Open my profile and click on "audio clip".

Saturday, March 19, 2016

#39: The Mt. Rushmore Series

Many lyricists capture memorable phrases in their songs. For this iteration of the long-running Mt. Rushmore series, please tell me which four songs have end-to-end lyrics you would enshrine. My monument is listed alphabetically by song. I purposefully did not list any songs with a co-credit (e.g. Lennon and McCartney) and also avoided duplicating any one lyricist. If you'd like, ignore my guidelines constructing your mountain.

1.) Both Sides Now: Joni Mitchell - Joni has written many great lyrics, but this early song of hers - with its elegant rhyme scheme and a refrain that moves from the illusions of clouds to love to life - is the one that belongs on my mountain.
2.) Send In The Clowns: Stephen Sondheim -  Many of Sondheim's lyrics are unmatched in their economy. This well known gem of his - with an additional bridge written for Barbra Streisand - goes on my Mt. Rushmore.
3.) Sleep's Dark And Silent Gate: Jackson Browne -  Aside from the startling title image, this stunner nails love's longing as well as anything I've heard. Not widely known but worth checking out.
4.) When It Sings: Elvis Costello - Another remarkable lyric end-to-end that may have escaped some of you. The song was on Costello's under-played recording entitled "North".

Lest you come for me with a straitjacket, I won't tell you how long it took me to narrow my list to just four. I'll feel less nerdy if at least one person joins me with a hammer and chisel. Please?

1 comment:

  1. I just located Elvis Costello's "When It Sings" from the album "North". I listened to the song for the first time, a second time and a third time, and then I decided to contact you just to say that my dry eye condition has temporarily abated.
    The vocals, melody, and piano arrangement were all superb. And that final chord! It is my opinion that Elvis could have sung that song on a neutral syllable "la" or "ah" throughout, and it would have been as moving for me as a listener.
    I'm wondering if you might consider constructing a class or course about song lyrics. How important are they? I realize a lot of this was covered in your lectures about what makes a song "timeless". But maybe you could just target lyrics.