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Are Lyrics Poetry?

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Whether this is a controversial view I don't know. But over the years many have called the likes of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and even Paul Weller Poets because of the content of their song lyrics. I personally do find many of the latter two songs inspiring and poetry like 'That's Entertainment' by Paul Weller and 'Imagine' by John Lennon are two good examples.

I once had a manager who managed those two people and likened my work to theirs but you have to check out my work to decided that for yourself.

I have had more than 50 songs released and people would often say some were like poetry so for the hell of it I entered one into an international poetry contest and won some years ago.(song version attached: lyric featured on my page)

So the reason I ponder on this subject is because I just have a book out featuring my best Lyrics/Poems and Photography called 'Voyeurs Welcome' (so if that's you the links are at the bottom of this blog).

So, how do you define poetry or lyrics. I think one is length. Poetry if more often than not a lot longer. I co wrote a track with a poet once and gave myself the challenge to just do the music instead of always doing both or in some cases just the lyrics. Their poem was way too long to work as a lyric so I edited and chopped it about a bit to suit a song format and it proved very popular and still felt poetry like.

The other definition for me is it being inspirational or taking you to a different world or attacking your senses or drawing attention to a worthwhile cause.

I do what is called 'Pop Noir style music which throws you into a three minute film epic via song to experience what the song is about and the lyric plays and important part in that.

Undoubtedly many song lyrics are drivel and meaningless and poetry is more meaningful although there is also bad poetry as well I'm sure.

The bottom line with any art is it either moves you or it doesn't and not all art moves the same people. Different strokes for different folks as they say.

I get the same reaction to my photography it moves people or it doesn't.(see photo on my page)

That's it for this blog now here are the links I mentioned.


Russ (aka Dark Duke)

Limite edition Quality paperback :

Kindle Version :

MagicLyrics. PoetryPhotosRussell C. BrennanBob DylanPaul WellerJohn LennonPhotographyVoyeurs Welcome

Erotic ►


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Wed 23rd Nov 2016 14:00

I consider myself more of a lyric writer and it is others who liken some of my work to poems. As a record producer I am also well aware of how enhanced you can make the song atmosphere by production and music.
But one of my favourite experiences was going to something called 'Naked Poetry' in Tampa Bay Florida some years ago purely as a spectator but one of the poets there had my latest music album featuring my songs (with a band) and insisted I get up and do a reading. I was reluctant and I told them I'm just a songwriter but they said they thought my lyrics were often like poetry so I got up and did a few and they went down extremely well resulting in a magazine interview and lots of interest in my latest album. But one comment stuck out' One girl said she loved my beatnik delivery. I didn't really know what that was but assumed that because many people read out poetry in a monotone fashion and I red mine with a rhythm of the melody of the song that's what they meant.
At the end of the day whether its purely on the page, read out live or in a song if it touches you and someone likes it then its worthwhile and who are we to tell someone sorry its not poetry. There should be no boxes or restrictions to any art form and that's the way I approach all my artistic endeavours.
Thanks for everybodies contribution to this blog. R

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Harry O'Neill

Mon 21st Nov 2016 15:46

M.c.`s point about `Production reminds me of how I once saw - and heard - the song `crazy` performed in grainy film and `ordinary` voice by quite a big country singer (I can`t remember who)...It was said that this was the first time it had been sung on T.V. It sounded like just another nice little love song.

the enormous difference between that and the subsequent
effect after it had been `produced` convinced me of the huge difference between poetry and music.

If poetry has an advantage it is in the `brain` of it.

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Ian Whiteley

Mon 21st Nov 2016 14:09

some poems are lyrical
some lyrics are poetical
for me - the distinction is whether they set out as poems or whether they are just assumed to be so because of the imagery or 'feel'
for my part - I try to write poems first and then take those poems into the studio to write and arrange tunes around the feel of the piece I've written - this can be most distinctive if a particular poetry 'form' is used for the original piece - because I then do not compromise the form in the writing of the music.
Best example I can offer of my own work doing this is the following.
I was given permission by the Wilfred Owen Society to record this piece as a commemoration of Wilfred Owen's life - as a basis of my part of the 'song' I have written a poem about the sad death of Owen - in sonnet form - the same form he used for his own poem 'Anthem For Doomed Youth' which is used as the second part of the 'song'. I'm not comparing my skill at writing a sonnet with Owen's - just highlighting that the source of a music piece can be a poem - see what you think:

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 21st Nov 2016 08:40

For me the brilliantly cutting lyrics of the recently departed Leonard Cohen are basically poems spoken with a cool backing track. Especially in his later years.

Whilst I'm no fan of performance poetry, I think the difference between a spoken word poet and a singer is often paper thin, Kate Tempest for example.

At the end of the day it's all about the words but good music helps. Listen to "Almost like the Blues" by LC.

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M.C. Newberry

Sun 20th Nov 2016 17:50

A classic example of the lyric standing alongside poetry is
to be found in the words of the hymn "Abide With Me".
As to lyrics being akin to bad poetry:
bad lyrics are to be deplored as
much as bad poetry and neither
deserves to find any lasting place in
our lives. But a bad lyric can be
disguised - and often is - by a better
melody than it deserves, whereas
bad poetry has no such refuge.

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David Blake

Sat 19th Nov 2016 16:40

When I write lyrics they usually just read like 'bad poetry', which I've actually heard lyrics universally described as before...

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sat 19th Nov 2016 15:46

IMO, good lyrics are definitely poetry. Messing around with two simple 'expressions' for ten minutes doesn't make a poem, however clever the music.

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 18th Nov 2016 17:41

From my own POV as a writer of poetry in verse and
song lyrics, I welcome this post.
Certainly, there can be similarities but the framework
for use in each genre can differ considerably and music
can tend to dictate its own word play. There are song
writing teams in which the music is written first, while
others use the reverse method, depending on the preferences of those involved. Of course, there are the
solo songwriters who produce both tune and lyric and
can adapt each to suit a personal aim or preference.
Much of the lasting/older stuff - from the "golden age"
of mainly American writers - can stand alongside poetry
as a means of communication. Surely one of the
greatest of all popular singers, Frank Sinatra, observed
that his matchless interpretation of a lyric was difficult
to place alongside his disinterest in poetry - and this
suggests a divergence between the two. But not
necessarily so. In Sinatra's case it was his insistence on perfecting the delivery of the song and its meaning
to the maximum effect in accordance - as he saw it -
with the intent of the songwriter(s) for whom he had
huge respect. Understandable, when one recalls the
likes of Arlen, Rodgers & Hart, Berlin, Porter, Mercer,
and so many other talents he could draw on, whose
material effortlessly endures to the delight and pleasure of successive generations of artists and audiences.
Their craft has rarely been equalled and whilst there
are gems to be found since, they are comparatively
few in number compared with the prodigious quality of
output from those masters of their profession.
Johnny Cash was one recent songwriting "giant", whose
best songs stay in the mind (e.g "Give My Love To Rose")
and his fame is boosted by a similarly enduring quality
of communication with the listener. A "proper" song, in
my own view, should tell a memorable tale in a few
minutes, leaving the listener with something to enjoy
and indeed treasure in the years to come. Recently,
it seems to me that "production" has attained priority
over the song itself and I wonder if that has contributed
to the likelihood of a diminishing amount of modern
material attaining any sort of deserved longevity in
the public affections. That would be such a shame.
And how bitter-sweet that it would contribute to the
continued popularity of so much that was written
with such deftness and craft so many years ago.

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Trevor Alexander

Fri 18th Nov 2016 17:15

I think it's a pretty murky pond you're fishing in here. The line is very blurred from my point of view. Some 'songs' can be very moving - you quoted a couple there. And some poetry can be 'drivel' - my opinion, which granted is not very poetry-educated. Not on here, of course. But if the Nobel committee want to pronounce Dylan a poet it's up to them. Maybe they couldn't find any other poets ou there that they liked. Personally I think it's a bit like what Eric Clapton said when collecting a music award a while back: a 'dinosaur award' for still being round!

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