Lyrics vs. spoken word vs. prose over music

Sara & I have slightly different musical interests (very slightly) and this is really only attributed to one factor. While Sara enjoys the full musical picture that is portrayed, I tend to lean toward the lyrics and how well they are represented by the music.  Due to this factor, I like certain musicians that she doesn’t simply because they have alot to say, so their lyrics are a bit more ‘wordy’.

I know some people may hate the first 2 examples I will give here, but here it goes anyway: Eminem & Justin Sane. These guys (love them or hate them) are masterful lyricists. Regardless of whether you like rap music or if you think Anti-Flag is a sell-out band, there is nobody that can listen to one of their songs and deny that the picture was painted very vividly for the listener. Even if you hate their musical styles, you will still be able to hear how well they lay their detailed lyrics to match the measures of their supporting sound. Tom Gabel (now known as Laura Jane Grace) of Against Me! is another one. He (she) has so much to say about the world, but lays the lyrics perfectly to the music and presents it in such a beautiful way, that no matter whether he is screaming it or singing it, you know exactly what the meaning behind it is and that the song is presented just the way it was supposed to be. Sara agrees with me on this side of the topic.

[***you can follow the link and read the lyrics along with the song directly on YouTube if you don’t grasp the full concept of my meaning. The guy is a genius***]

So, based on my love of lyrics, I also dig guys like Random Axe – Sara, not so much. She hears their music and feels like it’s just prose laid to sound. She says it sounds like they have so much they want to say that it doesn’t even stick well to the music they are presenting it with.

Maybe even a better example of this is Regina Spektor’s Consequences Of Sound:

I love this shit. Her argument is that the music is well done, so why alienate the listener by not giving it the respect of a matching flow of lyrics. My response is that the chaos of the meaning that the lyrics are trying to convey ARE being presented as they should and if someone is listening to the song simply for the music, then maybe they should just pick up the instrumental tracks. She says if the song can’t be enjoyed as a whole, then it’s almost pointless to make it. I say that if the music is good enough to draw even 30% of the listeners to find the meaning of the message that’s being conveyed, then the artist has done their job well.

I guess this ties into Sara’s post from yesterday too (which, by the way, I had no opinion on the Misfits until I actually heard the other singer for the first time in her post. He sounds like the singer from Iron Maiden. Danzig’s voice is definitely more fitting to the Misfits – even though he IS a douche). Black Flag is a good example of this. Personally, I’m more a fan of Black Flag pre-Henry Rollins (*GASP!* – the hell you say!) and it’s really a shame too because the man is a spoken word genius, but he just never seemed to be able to paint a vivid picture lyrically to me. Maybe I’m biased against his apparent lack of lyrical ability simply because I know how intelligent a person he is and it’s disappointing to me to hear such a void in the songs when I yearn for a more descriptive version. Maybe that’s just personal preference, but the lyrics just seem very elementary. This did improve some when he started doing his Rollins Band stuff, but not to the point that I would’ve expected it too. I’m just glad he shifted to writing books and doing spoken word tours. I think that’s more his place in the world and everyone on the planet should take in some of his knowledge.

I guess I’m just more a sucker for description than a good back beat. Oh well, that’s a badge I’ll wear proudly. If seeking intelligent language is a flaw, then I accept it and I’ll always keep it close to me.

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2 Responses to Lyrics vs. spoken word vs. prose over music

  1. mamasamess says:

    Something else that we talked about during this conversation was, “if you have so much today and you’re not going to match it to the track you’re laying it over….why even lay it over a track?”. Rollins has managed to successfully capture a spoken word audience. I remember you’re feeling was that too many people wouldn’t even attempt to listen if there wasn’t “music” behind the words – a valid point I’m sure.

    • 1oddpapa says:

      Yep, that point did slip my mind and I do wholeheartedly believe that more people (some of which being the ones that need to hear some of these lyrical messages in the first place) are attracted to the idea of a song than a spoken word recording

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