I am a music nerd. I hear a song I like, I read up about the artist, their past work, their lives. I grab their old albums and dive deep into their work, sometimes with disappointing results. There are a lot of albums out there that should have been a single or at most an EP.
But I digress.
The lyrics are the part of a song that I focus on primarily. You ever been to a concert and been stuck beside some loudmouth who bellowed along with every song? Sorry! I can’t help myself, nor do I want to stop singing along.
Back in the summer, I had the chance to see one of my current favourite bands, The National. Here’s one of my current faves:
And for the first time in possibly forever, I went with a friend who loves music as much as I do, my friend Sue.
As we sat around between opening acts and hoped that there would be food left in the food trucks for us, I discovered a shocking fact: Sue loved the music much more than the lyrics. How could this be???
I had assumed that she loved the music in the same way I did, and it blew my mind that someone could be as equally devoted to a song as I was but for a completely different reason.
Don’t get me wrong, the music part is important to me too. Otherwise, I’d be sitting around grooving to poets doing spoken word. (shudder). But I thought the lyrics were always the star for me. The bands I love (The National, The Hold Steady, The Tragically Hip as examples) are storytellers, and I am a sucker for a narrative. I chew it up and wonder how those characters got to that point (which triggers my own storytelling gland).
Imagine my surprise when I discovered songs that I loved despite not being able to sing along with them. Both songs are by Greg Dulli, from two different bands that he helmed.
There’s something about this song that activates the primal part of my animal brain. It floods me with imaginary memories of that pure and joyful lust that comes at the first blush of infatuation. No guilt or doubt, just two people starving for each other.
Song #2: Teenage Wristband
This one has some sense of romance to it, but it asks more questions that it answers. It makes me think of two people driving around in the lost hours of the night. A pause before whatever happens next, good or bad. Delaying the inevitable next step forward.
And as much as I love both of these songs, singing along with them doesn’t give me the same thrill as shouting along to my other favourites. These two songs skip the verbal part of my brain and go straight to the emotional section, and that is a mildly unsettling experience for me. I am all about words, words, words.