You know how, sometimes, you find songs that just stir something inside you? I somehow can’t help but keep being drawn to the soulful, mournful songs. I love good, poetic lyrics; drama and impact; lyrics that make you see pictures, flashes of images, and that transport you to places, evoke strong emotions; an almost telepathic experience. I listen to them and they wrap me in a different world, a bubble, for just a moment, just infused with feelings and images. Just like a well-written book, actually. Some of them make me wish I were better at lyrical contemporary dance so I could choreograph to them!
Some of my favourites:
The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
I am not a Christian, but I do love drama in songs, and few things are written with such imagery and high drama as Revelations. I love his turns of phrases.
This paints pictures in my mind. It makes moments play back in my mind like overexposed film on a Super8. It also reminds me of Rhein in Flammen, of RheinKultur, lying on the grass in the dark next to my best friend(s) in Europe, our jackets under our heads, up on the hill, way away from the main stage(s), watching the fireworks pierce the sky and listening to the accompanying music; and, for some reason, news film images of the night the Berlin Wall came down. I was only very young, but I never forgot them. Total strangers hugging each other in Heathrow Airport; people dancing on top of cars, on the wall; such a time of hope.
Tom Traubert’s Blues, Tom Waits
This one reminds me of one of the saddest, lowest, loneliest times in my life: “No one speaks English and everything’s broken”. But it’s so beautifully written. That, and it reminds me of Australia, even though I know it has nothing to do with Australia.
Fire and Rain, James Taylor
I probably wouldn’t have to explain the appeal of this to anyone who’s experienced loss and grief, deep loneliness, desolation and hopelessness, or, of course, who has lost someone they loved. It’s so honest and beautiful.
Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen
Well, of course. 🙂 This is the version I like best, a zillion covers later. “You say I took the name in vain; I didn’t even know the name; but if I did, well really, what’s it to you? There’s a blaze of light in every word; it doesn’t matter which you heard, the holy or the broken hallelujah!”. And, “I did my best, it wasn’t much; I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch; I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you; And even though it all went wrong; I’ll stand before the Lord of Song; With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!”. These two verses! I LOVE them.
I’m grateful for the old (and new) poets of music and soul, for they put into the most beautiful words the things I don’t know how to say when I am too stricken or overwhelmed to say it.