The Lyrics That Live With Me

When Lou Reed died, there was some great news coverage, such as the NY Times obituary, and much absurdity – which I guess could be predicted. My local news stations struggled to explain him to those who’d never heard of him. Here and there a reporter would add personal viewpoint (“He singlehandedly invented alt rock!”) to the obit pablum. Pablum. Does anyone still know what pablum is?

Not for the first time, I was grateful and impressed with how social media responded. Facebook, for example, didn’t just spread the news of his death, but also filled with tributes from people to whom Reed had mattered. Many simply quoted song lyrics that were important to them, which started conversational riffs that were moving and healing. I wish social media had been available when we lost Lennon! Or Strummer!

All of which got me thinking about what song lyric I would quote if another of my musicians dies before I do. There are certain songwriters who have been so important at some point in my life – so transformative – that their deaths would leave permanent holes. Even if I haven’t listened to (or thought about) some of them for decades, I need them to be in the world.

Below are the lyrics I might post. Although who knows what might instead occur at the time. When Alex Chilton died it wasn’t Chilton’s words or Big Star’s lyrics that surfaced, but Westerberg’s tribute song, Alex Chilton.

I’m in love, what was that song? 

Here is one of my lists. What would yours be?

 Leonard Cohen

 I have tried in my way to be free.

Elvis Costello
(note: the link has lyrics altered for TV!)

And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
trying to anesthetize the way that you feel.

John Doe

You are the lump in my throat
I am the aching in your heart.

Bob Dylan

I can’t help it if I’m lucky.
Okay here is where I acknowledge what a silly exercise this is.
The proper Dylan lyric changes hourly.

Exene & John Doe

She had to get out. Get out. Get out. Get out.

Patti Smith

Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.

Bruce Springsteen

The dogs on Main Street howl because they understand
If I could take one moment into my hand

Graham Parker

Life isn’t good enough. Music makes it good enough.
(Actually that quintessential Parker line
comes from an interview not a lyric.)

Kelly Joe Phelps

like a shine-eyed Mr. Zen
actually I’d probably use the lyrics that Corinne West
surely wrote for him in “Whiskey Poet“,
You took some chances
now the silence is your friend
As will I be in the end

Chris Thile

I’d probably quote his stage observation
that he lives vicariously through his own songs.

Paul Westerberg
(Live video without image.
Song that truncates unexpectedly.
Yup. Those were our ‘Mats.)

Look me in the eye and tell me I’m satisfied.

Neil Young

I am just a dreamer but you are just a dream.

This post responds to a recent WordPress weekly writing challenge about music that matters.)

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Fear of Blogging, part III

Damn, I really thought I was on a roll and had figured out how to incorporate writing-a-daily-blog-entry into my life. Now, two days in a row, life (and especially the stupid old day job) have interfered.  Here I am at bedtime with no energy or ideas or clarity. Which probably means I shouldn’t be typing and yet here I am.  Today’s blog has become symbolic of the larger struggle between life’s obligations versus the things that make life worth doing in the first place. I have always been too bound by obligations. I need to do better at eating dessert before I finish the veggies.

Fear of Blogging, the Sequel

When I started this blog, I feared it would eat into my novel-writing time. Two weeks into the experiment, all is well on that front. Creating and writing the blog turns out to be like anything else:

  • make it a part of daily life
  • don’t try to do it all at once
  • identify what makes it fun and don’t let that slip away.

As for how the blog impacts my new novel, if anything blogging may have helped by giving me an outlet for stray ideas.

Now I’ve got a new concern (maybe I’ve always got to have a concern). When people Like or Follow my blog, I of course check out their blogs and that has been a revelation. There are so many interesting and informative and inspiring blogs! I could spend all my time reading them.

So I find it easy to Like, but hard to Follow.  The latter feels like such a serious commitment. What’s the point of following a blog if you don’t stay engaged with every post? Still, I don’t mind letting posts flow and slip away on Facebook. What’s the difference? Maybe that blogs are writing and Fb is chatting?