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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Words For The Ages, Line Twenty-One

"Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart."

One of the most rewarding by-products of teaching music classes these past seven years has been how closely I've re-examined the lyrics of songs from my formative music years, including some tunes that have clearly suffered from over-exposure. Since 1969, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes from the first Crosby, Stills & Nash LP - the source of those italicized words for the ages above - has saturated the airwaves to the point where some listeners groan when it plays. That's unfortunate because, using just eleven words, Stephen Stills - not known primarily as a lyricist - nailed an essential and undeniable truth about love. 

I've been writing lyrics to my own songs for about a half-century; I'm proud of some of them. And I remain hopeful that one day I'll create a lyric of my own that can stand next to the twenty-one I've selected since 2017 for inclusion in this series. What lyric would you nominate? Remember: Your selection must be able to stand alone, it must reflect a universal truth, and it must be terse enough to be easily recited. The longest lyric to date in this series has been just seventeen words. Forget about how "over-played" a song has been. Instead, listen carefully to lyrics and find me some gems you would nominate as words for the ages. I think you'll be surprised - as I have been - at what you'll uncover.   



  1. Hello, Pat. As I've commented a number of times in my comments, the enthusiasm that you bring to your classes is infectious. To anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to take a class - Highly Recommended.
    In response to this blog post, I could very easily suggest something by The Beatles, and who would disagree with their greatness. Or Paul Simon. Or ... well, I could easily go on and on.
    But, one of my absolute favorite all time lines in a song, and one that each time I hear the song I take the time to point out the line (ask my lovely wife - lol), has to be "Doesn't mean that much to me to mean that much to you" - Neil Young, 'Old Man'. Aside from being just a terrific song both musically and lyrically, the phrasing of that line, the alliteration, has always gotten to me, from the very first time I heard it. It just rolls off the tongue. And I believe it meets the requirements you've listed above.
    I see that I'm the first to offer a comment. But I know my curiosity to what others will suggest will have be checking back again .. and again ...
    Be well,

    1. OK Bob, this comment is so pertinent in several ways. More on that but first, thanks for the nice feedback about my classes along with the plug for others to take one. Now: 1. My Words for the Ages series has already featured both the Beatles (a line from the end of "The End"; this from before you began reading my blog) and Paul Simon (from "Kathy's Song"), the latter being a recent post you commented when you quoted a favorite lyric of yours from "I Am A Rock" that begins with "A freshly fallen silent..." etc. 2.) My current class includes that great Neil Young song you cite (it will actually be the opener on the next day I teach, i.e. tomorrow.) And, since I haven't yet featured Mr. Young in my first twenty-one lines from Words for the Ages, the lyric from "Old Man" that you reference could very well end up in a future iteration of this series. 3.) I too hope someone else chimes in here, given the thought you put into today's comment. Although it's egotistic to admit it, I'm enjoying this series I created back in 2017 and wish others would jump in, as you have regularly since you began supporting my blog in 2019. Thanks for that.

  2. Hi Pay. Totally enjoyed your course. Here are a few lines from A Month of Sundays - Don Henley. This song like Helpless also makes me cry. You can feel the sadness of the farmer as Mr. Henley takes you through his life in about 5 minutes.
    I do believe for the most part this is true today and the world would be a better place if it were not. This might be a little long but I think it relevant.

    Now, it all comes down to numbers
    Now, I'm glad that I have quit
    Folks these days just don't do nothin'
    Simply for the love of it

    1. Marty; So glad to see a comment from you here and you are right about that lyric from "A Month of Sundays" - so true, so wise, so moving. Unfortunately, I've already used Don Henley (a line of his from "Heart of the Matter") in this series and don't plan on duplicating any lyricist until I run out of ideas. Still, I appreciate the thought you put into this and appreciate even more your kind words about my class that you just attended. Hope to see you in the future either in another class or .. here in cyberspace via my blog or otherwise.

  3. Love this one Pat. Very often out of nowhere and apropos of nothing in particular Karen and I will often just chime in with "Wish You Were Here's" timeless lyric, "we're just two lost souls, swimming in a fish bowl, year after year" and just laugh at the too true, too sad and sardonic sentiments neatly wrapped up in Pink Floyd's song.

    1. Steve; So happens I already used "With, without, and in the end, that's what the fighting's all about" from "Us and Them" as my selection of a Roger Waters lyric for this series. But your nomination from "Wish You Were Here" is clearly a match for the one I chose so thanks for the comment.