Booking Through Thursday ~ Show Me Your Lyrics

January 15, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Books | 7 Comments

bttBut, enough about books … Other things have words, too, right? Like … songs!If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.

So, today’s question?

  • What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
  • Why?
  • And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?

You don’t have to restrict yourself to modern songsters, either … anyone who wants to pick Gilbert & Sullivan, for example, is just fine with me. Lerner & Loewe? Steven Sondheim? Barenaked Ladies? Fountains of Wayne? The Beatles? Anyone at all…

What a wonderful topic! I can’t remember the last time I participated in BTT, but it’s been too long. I’m going to answer this as an evolution of sorts.

Chevy Van

The first lyrics that was ever attributed to me was through a story I overheard my mother telling someone over the phone. Apparently while I was over at her mother’s house, I started signing:

We made love in my Chevy van
and that’s alright with me

My grandmother was sufficiently less than amused.

Afternoon Delight

I have very fond memories of camping growing up. One particularly vivid memory is of my dad setting up the camper and we’re singing along with the radio:

Skyrockets in flight
Afternoon delight

After hearing this song again as an adult, I told my dad that I couldn’t believe that he sang that song with me. His response was great advice for me as a parent, “Jennifer, you didn’t know what it meant and we were having fun.” Yep, you can get too bent out of shape about things that don’t mean a darn thing.


There is one word that, when sung in an interesting, usually drawn out way, will virtually guarantee that I’ll love the song. That word, is:


When I think of that lyric (if you can actually call it that), the songs come to mind, and they are always on my iPod or MP3 player:

“Fire” by The Pointer Sisters

“The One I Love” by R.E.M.

“Firewoman” by The Cult

Running to Stand Still

The Joshua Tree is the definitive album of my youth. It came out during my junior year of high school and it was the first CD I ever bought. In fact, I have very strongly been considering getting a tattoo of the Joshua tree from the album art for almost two years now. It means that much to me. Over the past 20 years (yikes!), different songs have meant different things. In college, these lyrics stood out to me and they have ever since:

You’ve got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice

I think those lyrics sum me up in a lot of ways – some good, some not so good. I’ve always seen the main character in my novel living through those lyrics in some way.

Precious Things

Tori Amos came into my life along with my own sexual awakening. The first time I heard the song “Precious Things,” I knew that I would never forget it:

I want to smash the faces of those beautiful boys, those Christian boys
So you can make me come, that doesn’t make you Jesus

Find the River

“Find the River” is my favorite R.E.M. song. Although it’s about how life leads to death, it calms and centers me. I want it played at my funeral and I would like the following lyric to be my epitaph:

I’ve got to leave to find my way

I love this song so much that I’ll leave you with a wonderful live version of the song followed by the complete lyrics.

Hey now, little speedyhead,
The read on the speedmeter says
You have to go to task in the city
Where people drown and people serve.
Dont be shy. your just deserve
Is only just light years to go.

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon.
I have got to leave to find my way.
Watch the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way.

The ocean is the rivers goal,
A need to leave the water knows
Were closer now than light years to go.

I have got to find the river,
Bergamot and vetiver
Run through my head and fall away.
Leave the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way.

Theres no one left to take the lead,
But I tell you and you can see
Were closer now than light years to go.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
Fall into the ocean.

The river to the ocean goes,
A fortune for the undertow.
None of this is going my way.
There is nothing left to throw
Of ginger, lemon, indigo,
Coriander stem and rose of hay.
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naivete.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
All of this is coming your way


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  1. The lyrics that hit me the most are usually show tunes. One example is Dancing Through Life from the Wicked soundtrack. The words themselves are not beautiful but when sung.. they become beautiful. Whenever I hear it I end up humming it for days.

  2. Firewoman! What I great song! The Cult was one of my favs back then. Ian Asbury had the coolest voice!


  3. When I was in college there was a jukebox in the Student Center. One day it got stuck on Chevy Van and that song played over and over all day until someone finally thought to unplug it. I haven’t liked the song since.

  4. Love the Tori Amos (and the most amusing bits here too!). Great post!

  5. Love the Tori Amos (and the most amusing bits here too!). Great post!

  6. Tori Amos is my absolute favorite singer/songwriter. And that line from Precious Things…wow!

    My brothers and I used to sing Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard to each other…

    “You’ve got the peaches, I’ve got the cream.”

    Just so so wrong.

  7. I am soooo pumped that you enjoy lyrics as much as I do. The only hard part for me here, is choosing which one to leave. I guess I’ll go with Srange Love by Depeche Mode because this really sums up relationships,especially mine with my husband of almost 15 years.

    “Strange Love, strange highs and strange lows
    Strange Love, thats how my love goes
    Strange Love, will you give it to me,
    will you take the pain I will give to you
    again and again and will you return it?”

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