May 4, 2012

Catchy, disagreeable lyrics (with playlist)

If I'd ever gone on a first date with Vampire Weekend's "Oxford Comma," we never would have made it to a second meeting. The central lyrical thesis, "Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?" would have been the deal breaker. Because it's me. I am the one who cares about the Oxford (serial) comma. Strunk & White do too, and I side with them often.

Despite the disagreement, I still sing along with that song. So I started thinking about lyrics that I love and hate, or that I find disagreeable and catchy. I turned to the Sadbear beacon, called out for more ideas, and we came up with this playlist, leaving out the obvious M.I.A. shoot-you-for-cash and other crack-dealing songs that we hold so dear. Thoughts follow below.

Troublesome Lyrics by Tony G on Grooveshark

Mark says: "Most of the music I listen to is a contradiction. I should probably be more concerned about this," and he lists Okkervil River's The Black Sheep Boy album, the song "Bukowski" by Modest Mouse, and most of Control by Pedro the Lion, as examples. He too called attention to Vampire Weekend.

"But above, before, beyond all: The Mountain Goats," Mark said. "I love them. I sing them, passionately. I identify with and get emotionally worked up over them. Even though, you know ..."
It took all the coke in town to bring down Dennis Brown // on the day my lung collapses we'll see just how much it takes

Hail, Satan

I hope that our few remaining friends give up on trying to save us // I hope we come up with a fail-safe plot to piss off the dumb few that forgave us // I hope the fences we mended fall down beneath their own weight... 
Jack says he finds some Wilco and Elvis Costello lyrics to be well-stated and sincere while espousing ideas he doesn't necessarily agree with.

"The one I thought of immediately was 'Passenger Side' by Wilco. Seeing as how it's about Jeff Tweedy's DUIs, I don't think it's a song that even he would agree with — something of a cautionary tale." That song includes the lines:
You're gonna make me spill my beer // If you don't learn how to steer

Can you take me to the store, then the bank? // I've got five dollars we can put in the tank // I've got a court date coming this June // I'll be driving soon // Passenger side // I don't like riding on the passenger side
The second song from Jack is Elvis Costello's "Accidents Will Happen," including:
There's so many people to see // So many people you can check up on // And add to your collection // But they keep you hanging on // Until you're well hung // Your mouth is made up but your mind is undone
Finally, Jack said, the entire Joy Division catalog is "pretty nihilistic, and I pretty much agree with none of what they are actually saying. But I still love moments like 'Transmission,' in which Ian Curtis encourages the listener to dance to the silence of the void of humanity of the radio."

Chase went deep, so I'll stay out of the way and let him handle this:

"No apologies ever need be made // I know you better than you fake it to see"
- "1979" by The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins came into my life at the perfect time, as I came into my own as a teenager and began to grapple with ideas of growing up, being my own person, and, at times, pushing back at certain authority. Every time I sit down and think about it, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was the first album that I was ever, truly, obsessed with, and the themes that lace through the album are terrific. I connect to it a good deal, but to claim my feelings mirror Corgan's own "farewell to youth" ideas would be a lie. I wish they did, but I think there's a line I cannot cross when it comes to rebuffing authority to a strong degree, especially out of boredom. It's just not me. Put simply, Billy Corgan's idea of how he would have cured teenage boredom was way more hardcore than my own. As exhibited in the (I feel safe saying) iconic "1979" music video, teens are depicted pissing off neighbors and wreaking havoc at an LA convenience store, all set to the (amazing) song about a youth gone by. I totally get caught up in the spirit, but no. The fact of the matter is that I do apologize, I probably cared too much about what people thought of me, and I kept in line because of it.

Kyle says he had trouble thinking of a single song because entire albums can be troubling. But he chose "Repatriated" by the Handsome Furs. "I hate to harp on the Furs again (no I don't), but their latest album made a significant impression on me," he said. "The album is extremely coherent, so I'll choose these lyrics out of a hat (a handsome, furry hat):"
I've seen the future and its comin' in low/ I've seen the future, I will never be repatriated
"The album expresses a kind of underground romantic revival based on a global experience of humanity. I like to think of this sentiment as a kind of vertigo-shot: two conflicting camera movements using imbalance to create a sensation of perpetual motion. Thus, the Handsome Furs seem to exist in a sort of constant flight (related to global air travel), having no "homeland" to land in. This is why Vanessa's word for their musical quality is "soaring." But it's imbalance, whereas the Furs seem to want to believe one can stop and abide there, as though it were the next level of human maturity.
"It's a winning myth, which is why I'm so attracted to the album. Soaring is good. Furthermore, I think its just the kind of fiction that should be present in art, but as fiction. To treat it as reality seems to me contrary to everything we humans seek and build around ourselves; and it doesn't account for the purpose and presence of fiction in art."

Tony says: In addition to the Vampire Weekend line, which is not a particularly soul-testing item, there are a number of lyrics from Modest Mouse that I find beautiful and disturbing. For example, I'm not a downer, but I still like: "I'm trying to drink away the part of the day I cannot sleep away," in "Polar Opposites."

I'm also put off, and drawn to, the of Montreal song, "One of a very few of a kind," which includes:
I doubt that you're the only one like you that I'll find // But for sure you're one of a very few of a kind
And how about some second-guessing after a few rounds of singing along with The Toadies on their 1990s mega-hit "Possum Kingdom"? Yeah, that line repeated over and over is: "Do you wanna die?"

We've written about lyrics quite a bit, by the way. Click here to see those posts.

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Blogger JHitts said...

On the other hand, I absolutely agree with Vampire Weekend here:

"First the window, then it's to the wall/ Lil' Jon, he always tells the truth"

May 4, 2012 at 12:56 PM 
Blogger Fr. Mark Perkins said...

"Repatriated" is so good. "Soaring" is a great description, and I think it's the link that makes a winter band like Sunset Rubdown so good on a surf movie.

Also, every time I hear the rul intense "do you wanna die?" at the end I (involuntarily) re-imagine it with Adam Sandler singing it. Not entirely sure why. It's not endearing.

May 5, 2012 at 12:06 PM 

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