|Blogs > OcelotScratch > The Scratching Post|
I love music. Lots and lots of different kinds of music. Except jazz. For some reason, I just can't get hooked on it, despite my thinking that someone like myself *should* like jazz. So I keep trying, and I've found a few things that I like, but not the whole genre.
As a music listener, though, I have one peculiarity: most of the time, I have no idea what a given song is about. I just don't listen to the lyrics, with rare exceptions. The voice is just another instrument. Oh, and just because I'm singing the lyrics to a song, don't assume that I know what they actually are.
Now, there are some songs so simple that even without paying attention, I can figure out what they're about. AC/DC is like this; there just isn't a complicated thought anywhere, so it's hard not to know what's going on. (Despite that, the number of people who think that "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" is about sex is truly astonishing.)
Most of my favorite bands, though, I just don't pay attention. Sometimes I'm afraid that I'm missing something important. However, with at least some of my favorites, I'm pretty sure that it's a good thing, because the lyrics would actually detract from my liking if I were paying attention. Yes and Dream Theater are near the top of that list.
As an aside, for some reason, rockabilly bands don't suffer from this nearly as much. The Red Elvises and the Reverend Horton Heat are two where I follow the lyrics, and they are great.
This is what makes it so special for me when I do start paying attention to the lyrics and find that they are really good. Or more than really good. The latest artist I've done this with is Mark Knopfler.
I love his stuff with Dire Straits, but his solo material is fabulous. Then I started paying attention. Wow. Knopfler has one of the best understandings of America that I have seen from any poet/songwriter. (Keep in mind that I don't read poetry. I've tried, like I have with jazz, and I'm clearly missing something when I do.)
Sailing to Philadelphia is his best solo album, though that's kind of like saying finding $100 is better than finding $80. Much sparer in its music than most of his stuff, the lyrics really carry it. My favorite song is "Sands of Nevada," but there's only two duds on the whole disc.
So, who listens to the lyrics? I'm betting just about everyone.
"These tables are haunted
By the ghost of Las Vegas
Their chips were once mountains
But they came here to play
They could take me if they wanted
But I have nothing worth counting
And like the sands of Nevada
They go drifting away
Lady luck's still a mystery
With her head on my shoulders
And I don't know why
I still want her to dance
I guess that's all history
What it is is I'm older
And I'm still a fool
For a one-way romance
Her dice were red rubies
They rolled and they tumbled
And I never saw time
Running out with my roll
And in a wasteland of cut glass
My dreams have all crumbled
And I've paid with whatever
I had left for a soul
Now the dawn's broken even
On an empty horizon
No reason for folding
No reason to stay
It's too soon to be leaving
Too late for criticising
And the sands of Nevada
They go drifting away "