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Old 04-11-2017, 09:22 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Default Metaphors/Images in Songs You Wish Were Yours

I was listening to the most recent Wilco album, Schmilco, and really enjoy the song "If I Ever Was a Child."

There's a line: "And I cry like a window pane."

When I heard it, my reaction pleasure to seething. It's simple, so simple even someone like me could come up with it, but I hadn't. It's evocative of a rainy day, blurred vision, and the homonym even works well. I don't feel like my metaphors are always the strong suit of my writing, but this sort of feels like something I might have written in another life.

Another is from Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" (oddly, also about crying): "Crying like a fire in the sun." It's a compelling image to me of contrast (tears and fire), and of futility. Similarly, it's a simple image that surprised me and made me mad.

At least my excuse with the Dylan lyric is that I wasn't even born when he wrote this. Hell, it was released a few weeks before my mom was born. But I've got no excuse for not beating Tweedy to that line.

There are others, but these two have been ringing in my head for a while, and I'm curious--keeping this to music, and pop music more generally--are there snatches of popular music that feel like they could have been yours stylistically but, sadly, are not?
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Old 04-11-2017, 09:43 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Paul Simon's song "Graceland", from 1996, has the line "As if I didn't know my own bed." That's a line I'd be glad to have written.

NB 1986.

Last edited by John Isbell; 04-12-2017 at 02:30 AM. Reason: date
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Old 04-12-2017, 01:30 AM
William A. Baurle William A. Baurle is offline
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I am green with envy over Carly Simon's You're So Vain.

It's a perfect, can't-possibly-fail song.

As for images, just take that epic first verse:

You walked into the party
Like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically tipped below one eye
Your scarf, it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as
You watched yourself gavotte...


In an interview I recently watched, Simon says (ha!) that each verse referred to a specific person. Two she doesn't identify, except vaguely. But the first verse (above) is about Warren Beatty.

Edit* I'm wrong. It's the second verse that refers to Beatty. So the gavotting guy with the apricot scarf is still not certain, though it could be David Geffen.

Or me. Yeah, it's probly about me. (Yes, some Americans say "probly". I say "probly" probly way more than I say "probably".)

You go Carly!

Last edited by William A. Baurle; 04-12-2017 at 01:46 AM.
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:15 AM
Gregory Palmerino Gregory Palmerino is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William A. Baurle View Post
You watched yourself gavotte...[/i]
I've been singing this song incorrectly for 42 years. I always thought the line was "watched yourself go by" to rhyme with "eye." Gees! Well, now I'm off to the "favorite words" thread" Ha!

Thanks, Bill.
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Old 04-21-2017, 02:18 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Speaking of "Graceland":

Quote:
The Mississippi Delta
Was shining like a National guitar
I've always liked that the image works whether or not "National guitar" is understood as a brand name associated with chrome resonators (photo), or more geopolitically.

And the multiple meanings of "turn down" at the beginning of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" are simply fabulous:

Quote:
Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
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Old 04-21-2017, 02:27 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Bonnie's rendition gives goosebumps (as I can attest, having heard her sing it in person just last year) but it was written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin.

Lots of great images in Graceland, apart from the one you mentioned. Graceland itself, as a literal place and a sort of heavenly state. And I love the human trampoline. And throughout the album. (Think of the boy in the bubble or the baby with the baboon heart).

BTW, have a listen to Alison Krauss doing Graceland. Here, starting at 5:50.

Last edited by Roger Slater; 04-21-2017 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 04-21-2017, 02:39 PM
David Callin David Callin is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Slater View Post
Lots of great images in Graceland, apart from the one you mentioned. Graceland itself, as a literal place and a sort of heavenly state.
Yes. "I have reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland" has always moved me, and I'm not usually much of a Paul Simon fan.
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:34 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Slater View Post
Bonnie's rendition gives goosebumps (as I can attest, having heard her sing it in person just last year) but it was written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin.
Sorry, I meant to look up the songwriters! Thanks for giving credit where credit is due.

(Actually, my very favorite part of that song isn't the words, but the poignant series of piano arpeggios at the very end, which arrogant California radio DJs often talk right over. But I can't make them love it if they don't.)

Quote:
BTW, have a listen to Alison Krauss doing Graceland. Here, starting at 5:50.
Oooh, to the accompaniment of a National guitar, too! (Or at least a dobro.) Thanks.
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Old 04-21-2017, 04:04 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Returning to Andrew's original question, are there "snatches of popular music that feel like they could have been yours stylistically...?" Nothing really springs to mind, actually. My favorite songs don't tend to be anything like what I write.

Sort of randomly, maybe this song, sung by Iris DeMent, is something somewhat akin to what I might write if I had the talent. In looking up the songwriters, not only did I learn that they are Harlan Howard and Bobby Braddock, but I learned that it is "one of the most evil songs ever written."
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Old 04-21-2017, 05:15 PM
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Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
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Lyrics never inspire me, but I often ask myself, how can this sound or idea be replicated in poetry? How can I recontextualize lines to create sound art in the way this imagines record scratching as parrot talk or John Waters dialogue as song lyrics? What might the poetic equivalent of lowercase music read like? Could this album's concept be used to create anything worthwhile? (Raymond Queneau's One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems is one answer.) What if a multi-part poem was sequenced in a way similar to how David Bowie ordered the tracks on "Heroes"? How might I use repetition as meaningfully as Brian Eno or Steve Reich at their best? What if Stockhausen wrote a limerick? What would a noise-haiku sound like?
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