The philosophy of lyrics

2022-03-29 @Arts

I don’t hear the lyrics. The vocals serve as another instrument devoid of the lexical properties of language. Emotion, eminent, lexicon, lacking. The others' lyric-aware listening doesn’t cease to bewilder me. My abstracted method too causes occasional bewilderment.

I’ve never belonged to any musical tradition one can call own. From there it stems. Exposed to the Western from the earliest Soviet recollections: foreign lyrics, mostly incomprehensible. Don’t derive much cultural significance. Don’t relate. Merely adapt to the melodic palate. Listen as an art form. Jazz, Fusion, British rock, Alternative, Industrial, Electronic, Classical. Much instrumental emphasis. The remainder, words lacking significance. Phrases indifferent to semantics.

Clapton, Hendrix, Morrison, Plant, Daltrey. R.E.M, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, The Cure, Metallica, David Bowie. Words.

Unless, that is, I make a conscious drive towards lyrics interpretation, unless I listen with that intent, the words may as well stem from a foreign tongue. Almost. I do attach some meaning to familiarity. Keener to hear something to which I might relate. But it’s secondary.

A lifetime of re-listening to many of the common classic rock tunes, sure, some refrains, fragments, signature phrases stuck: but insufficient to derive greater poetic meaning from the composition as a whole. Fragmentary. Ephemeral. Should the lyrics not serve another instrumental function, should I desire to hear the words in unison, must apply an alternative form of cognition.

But I can’t remember if I can even remember the lyrics to a single tune out there. Some quatrain? Or mere fragments?

Striking. Some tunes sell silly emotional diatribes and amorous cogitations. Or take a typical Beatles tune. Could I care for the Paperback Writer seeking a steady job? But the others … the bands akin King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd, the Doors, some of those lyrics comprise elaborate bard compositions. Heavy poetry.

Or the culturally interwoven lyrics of Johnny Cash, Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, Cole Porter: the invariant holds, words, supplementary. Cultural significance, artistic value presupposed, no effort to seek that for which these compositions are meant to be experienced, should that not be the homework assignment. Prefer to experience them in my own strange way.

The Cabaret, the Chanson, the Criolla, the Cantina folk tunes, a territory of lyrical awareness left uncharted. Much poetry in music indeed there is. But I chose to appreciate both separately. Separately I appreciate both.

Questions, comments? Connect.