Under The Influences

October 13, 2016 § 1 Comment

I have always thought of songwriting, especially good songwriting, as a form of poetry. Today’s news that Bob Dylan is this year’s Nobel Prize recipient for literature indicates that I am not alone in this line of thought.

After reading through a few of the stories and samples of some of Dylan’s best-known and most poetic lyrics, I began to think of some of the songwriters/lyricists I’ve wished I could emulate. Dylan, himself, of course, although I doubt anyone will ever again tap into the public consciousness quite so well.

Leonard Cohen is a poet/songwriter I’ve only recently begun listening to in earnest, even though he has been around as long as Dylan, even longer if you note the fact that he published poems several years before Dylan released his first album. Like Dylan, though Cohen’s way with a phrase is out of reach for most mere mortals, including me.

Perhaps my favorite songwriter and lyricist is Elvis Costello, a prolific writer who has delved in several different genres, each with equal artistry. Sandwiched somewhere between Dylan and Cohen in terms of commercial success, Costello is the songwriter I have most wished I could approach in terms of style, though I know his lyrical mastery is well out of my reach.

Lately, I have added another songwriter, or in this case songwriting duo, to the short list of those I try to draw inspiration from. They are Glenn Tillbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze. I have the thrill of seeing the band in concert last week. Like Costello, they are able to marry turns of phrase and wit and melody into catchy three or four-minute melodic short stories. Unlike Costello, though, the lyrics of Difford and Tillbrook often mask the ascerbic wit and acidity. They might knock you over with a feather, whereas Costello might well hit you upside the head with a sledgehammer.

After the concert, I again wished I could write a catchy and clever tune in the manner of Squeeze. What I offer below fails to match that level of aspiration, but I am pretty happy with it all the same.

Lost

She sits at the bar, and she dreams of salvation
A face or a hand to support her
Back in the day, she was thought quite a catch
Now no one comes ’round to court her
Most Friday nights, she just sits on her own
Thinking of romance but drinking alone
Knowing that no one will come ’round to see her
Or call her up on the phone

Lost to the world, lost to herself
Seeking her own private grace
All that is left of the person she was
There in the lines on her face
But her memory sustains her, sometimes entertains her
When the days and nights start to turn cold
She says to herself, “Girl, you’ve had quite a life,
Ah, but it’s hell to grow old.”

She once was a dancer with Agnes DeMille
Even the lead for a time
She would brisé with the greatest of ease
Something to see in her prime
Around her, reminders of life on the stage
Dated and faded now she’s turned the page
No papparazzi or autograph seekers
Now she’s no longer the rage

Lost to the world, lost to herself
Seeking her own private grace
All that is left of the person she was
There in the lines on her face
But her memory sustains her, sometimes entertains her
When the days and nights start to turn cold
She says to herself, “Girl, you’ve had quite a life,
Ah, but it’s hell to grow old.”

Once graced the covers of glossy magazines
Fuel for the tabloids and young boys’ dreams
Now she’s forgotten, no longer in such high esteem

She waits for the ending and knows it will come
Not with a bang but a whimper
There’ll be no encore but knows down inside
There is a fire that still simmers
And so, Friday night, she’ll head down to the bar
Drink to the days back when she was a star
Sits and replays the soundtrack of her life
To an imagined guitar

Lost to the world, lost to herself
Seeking her own private grace
All that is left of the person she was
There in the lines on her face
But her memory sustains her, sometimes entertains her
When the days and nights start to turn cold
She says to herself, “Girl, you’ve had quite a life,
Ah, but it’s hell to grow old.”

She says to herself, “Girl, you’ve had quite a life,
Ah, but it’s hell to grow old.”

© 2017 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Tagged: , , , , , ,

§ One Response to Under The Influences

  • writewyattuk says:

    Glad to see you finally caught up with Messrs Difford & Tilbrook, Walt. I’d like to pretend it was all my doing, but alas, they clearly made up their own minds that it was time they came to see you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Under The Influences at My Wordsmithing.

meta

%d bloggers like this: