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Lyrical Poetry

There are many moments when in my personal quietude I can appreciate poetry purely from the many lyrics that have been sung by artistes who in my view have written not only a good song but a brilliant piece of poetry. Among those who really impress me are the Walker Brothers, Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan, and Colin Blunstone-other extremely good examples would in my view would be Jacques Brel's "Jacky" (recently re-recorded by Divine Comedy), I've not heard the French version but this is a superlative translation:

And if one day I should become
A singer with a Spanish bum
Who sings for women of great virtue
I'd sing to them with a guitar
I borrowed from a coffee bar
Well, what you don't know doesn't hurt you.

My name would be Antonio
And all my bridges I would burn
And if I gave them some they'd know
I wanted something in return
I'd have to get drunk every night
And talk about virility
With some old grand-mama who might
Be decked out like a Christmas tree.

And though pink elephants I'd see
I'd sing the song they sang to me
About the time they called me Jackie.

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Just cute in a stupid-ass way!

And if I joined the social whirl
Became procurer of young girls
Then I would have my own bordellos
My record would be number one
I'd sell my records by the ton
Although sung by other fellows.

My name would then be "Handsome Jack"
And I'd sell boats of opium
Whiskey that came from Twickenham
Authentic queers and phony virgins
I'd have a bank on every finger
A finger in every country.

And every country ruled by me
I still know where I'd want to be
Locked up inside my opium den
Surrounded by some Chinamen
I'd sing the song that I sang then
About the time they called me Jackie.

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Just cute in a stupid-ass way!
Now tell me wouldn't it be nice
That if one day in Paradise.

I sang for all the ladies there
And they would sing along with me
We'd be so happy there to be
'Cus below is really nowhere
My name would then be Jupiter
And I would know where I was going.

And then I would become all knowing
Grow my beard so long and flowing
If I became deaf dumb and blind
Because I pitied all mankind
And broke my heart to make things right
I know that every single night.

when my angelic work was through
The angels and the devil too
Would sing my childhood song to me
About the time they called me Jackie.

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
So cute in a stupid-ass way!

Mainly written in octosyllabic verse by Mort Shuman along with music written by: GĂ©rard Jouannest, the words appear to rush out at performance speed and capture the torment of an artist attempting to conform to an ever maddening society. I wonder whether anyone else has a favourite song lyric that has inspired or tickled them in some way?



Sat, 11 May 2024 10:48 am
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Masters Song-Leonard Cohen

I believe that you heard your master sing
When I was sick in bed
I suppose that he told you everything
That I keep locked away in my head
Your master took you travelling
Well, at least that's what you said
And now, do you come back to bring
Your prisoner wine and bread?
You met him at some temple
Where they take your clothes at the door
He was just a numberless man in a chair
Just come back from the war
And you wrap up his tired face in your hair
And he hands you the apple core
Then he touches your lips, now so suddenly bare
Of all the kisses we put on some time before
And he gave you a German Shepherd to walk
With a collar of leather and nails
And he never once made you explain or talk
About all of the little details
Such as who had a word and who had a rock
And who had you through the mails
Now your love is a secret all over the block
And it never stops, not even when your master fails
And he took you up in his aeroplane
Which he flew without any hands
And you cruised above the ribbons of rain
That drove the crowd from the stands
Then he killed the lights in a lonely lane
And an ape with angel glands
Erased the final wisps of pain
With the music of rubber bands
And now, I hear your master sing
You kneel for him to come
His body is a golden string
That your body is hanging from
His body is a golden string
My body has grown numb
Oh, now you hear your master sing
Your shirt is all undone
And will you kneel beside this bed
That we polished so long ago
Before your master chose instead
To make my bed of snow?
Your eyes are wild and your knuckles are red
And you're speaking far too low
No, I can't make out what your master said
Before he made you go
Then I think you're playing far too rough
For a lady who's been to the moon
I've lain by this window long enough
You get used to an empty room
And your love is some dust in an old man's cough
Who is tapping his foot to a tune
And your thighs are a ruin, you want too much
Let's say you came back some time too soon
I loved your master perfectly
I taught him all that he knew
He was starving in some deep mystery
Like a man who is sure what is true
And I sent you to him with my guarantee
I could teach him something new
And I taught him how you would long for me
No matter what he said, no matter what you'd do
I believe that you heard your master sing
While I was sick in bed
I'm sure that he told you everything
I must keep locked away in my head
Your master took you travelling
Well, at least that's what you said
And now, do you come back to bring
Your prisoner wine and bread?
14 days ago
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Very evocative piece by the mysterious and sonorous Leonard Cohen who must stand as one of the 20th century poets who successfully turned their poetry into song!
10 days ago
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