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Author Topic: "Literate" Lyrics...?  (Read 13319 times)

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"Literate" Lyrics...?
« on: 14 Aug 2009, 18:36 »

...

Well, so lately I've been listening to Joanna Newsom again and wondering why did I ever stop. Her voice aside (i admit it's kind of an acquired taste), i sometimes feel her lyrics are actually too good to be put to music and actually have them work. Most of her songs are like that (to me, at least) but I know I would specially dig epic, "lengthy" things like "Only Skin" from Ys. So, hoping that she is far from alone in that regard, could anyone suggest music with lyrics as awesome as her own? To narrow it down a bit, I mean lyrics concerned as much with form as with substance, i.e. rhyming, rather obscure vocabulary, etc. But, well, anything goes I guess. And no, the request is not restricted to any genre either, so it's not necessary for suggestions to be "folky" or anything, but it'd be nice if the music itself was awesome as well.

PS: I already know things like Okkervil River, the Decemberists and a good part of the Elephant Six Collective, so...something different.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #1 on: 14 Aug 2009, 19:05 »

Fiona Apple?
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #2 on: 14 Aug 2009, 20:22 »

The Mountain Goats?
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #3 on: 14 Aug 2009, 20:35 »

the weakerthans!
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #4 on: 14 Aug 2009, 22:18 »

Agreed!
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #5 on: 14 Aug 2009, 22:47 »

Early Dylan, Early REM, Early Phil Ochs.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #6 on: 14 Aug 2009, 23:36 »

Damn...should have added The Mountain Goats and The Weakerthans to that list.

Will check out everything else though. Anyone else?
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #7 on: 14 Aug 2009, 23:42 »

I agree with Tommy except I can't say much for Phil Ochs as up until now, I've never heard of him.

Also, I recommend Dan Bejar/Destroyer. A friend of mine once described him as the Thomas Pynchon of indie rock. I'm not sure that's especially true but the cryptic and self-referential lyrics on his past three (I'm still in love with Rubies) albums and his new EP are pretty sweet.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #8 on: 15 Aug 2009, 00:02 »

The Books have amazing lyrics, even when they are comprised of samples.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #9 on: 15 Aug 2009, 05:03 »

Early Dylan, Early REM, Early Phil Ochs.

Dylan, definitely. He is probably the best lyricist around, especially for the kind of thing you're loooking for.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #10 on: 15 Aug 2009, 05:07 »

Scott Walker, regardless of whether or not he's singing his own. And how about Leonard Cohen? You don't get much more 'literate' than starting out as a poet.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #11 on: 15 Aug 2009, 05:34 »

I highly recommend you check out Grand Salvo, which is the work of a Melbourne songwriter named Paddy Mann. He's just released an exquisite album entitled Soil Creatures. His previous album was entitled Death and was a song-cycle in the form of a children's story about a bird, a rat, a rabbit, a bear, and a hunter.
« Last Edit: 15 Aug 2009, 05:37 by Inlander »
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #12 on: 15 Aug 2009, 10:27 »

Josh Ritter!

If "To the Dogs or Whoever" isn't 'literate', I don't know what is.

Then again, I probably don't know, because I think Phil Collins is a talented songwriter too.

Carry on.
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BeoPuppy

Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #13 on: 15 Aug 2009, 10:39 »

I'll just say, once again, that Skyclad lyrics are actually quite yummie. I'd suggest Any Old Irony. You'll get the picture. Also: early Marillion. Fish was a good writer, once.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #14 on: 15 Aug 2009, 11:08 »

John Prine

Billy Joe Shaver
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #15 on: 15 Aug 2009, 12:33 »

Elvis Costello.  I highly recommend you pick up his new album.  All of you.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #16 on: 15 Aug 2009, 17:34 »

Wow, I'm really liking what I've checked out so far. Thanks, everyone.

Especially liking Grand Salvo and Josh Ritter. They're awesome.

If you can think of anything else, by all means include it.

And yes, I'm a demanding lurker.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #17 on: 15 Aug 2009, 18:01 »

I'll just say, once again, that Skyclad lyrics are actually quite yummie.

Are you ready...
Are you ready for The Sinful Ensemble?
Good clean fun - just a bit a rough and tumble.
Dead dictators out on a lads night.
Ten pints later you'll see a flashing blue light.

Are you ready for The Sinful Ensemble?
Good clean fun - just a bit a rough and tumble.
Dead dictators out on a lads night.
Ten pints later you'll see a flashing blue light.

Ever wondered where the evil dead go?
There's a little place called the Nightmare scenario.
Unlicenced establishment for farmer world powers,
where the drinks are cheap - and it's open all hours.

Bonaparte's on brandy - he swills it down his throat,
Hitler sips a Pilsher whilst he tells a racist joke.
Mussolini leers at Maggie serving at the bar,
Stalin's out the back, he's trying to sell a dodgy motor car.

Dear God above (if you exist),
hope you see the funny side to this?
Now don't get cross - don't bite your nails,
oh, Son of Man your mission failed

Are you ready for The Sinful Ensemble?
Good clean fun - just a bit a rough and tumble.
Dead dictators out on a lads night.
Ten pints later you'll see a flashing blue light.

Herod's in the family room, to babysit the first born.
Mengele's got a Gladstone bag of cotton wool and chloroform.
Vlad impales glace cherries on a stick just for a lark
When Pol Pot turns the lights out they'll play murder in the dark.

Are you ready for The Sinful Ensemble?
Good clean fun - just a bit a rough and tumble.
Dead dictators out on a lads night.
Ten pints later you'll see a flashing blue light.

Genghis Khan just parked his lunch all over Nero's belly.
While the lions beat the christians thirty - nil live on the telly.
Caligula kills "My Way" on the karaoke stage -
young "Chezzy" Borgia's barred for life for drinking under age.

This is far more than just a joke.
Can't you see the fire for the smoke?
Choose any public house you please
and find dictators such as these.

Are you ready for The Sinful Ensemble?
Good clean fun - just a bit a rough and tumble.
Dead dictators out on a lads night.
Ten pints later you'll see a flashing blue light.

Are you ready for The Sinful Ensemble?
Good clean fun - just a bit a rough and tumble.
Dead dictators out on a lads night.
Ten pints later you'll see a flashing blue light.

Hell is where the heart lies - (in Purgatory's borders).
The great thing 'bout eternity - they never call last orders!




also



Hear my tale - I'm norman normal, always humble, mild and meek.
In my bank a lowly banker - run-down brach on nowhere street
'till one day a stranger called - a foetid bible black he laughed,
said "Sonny I don't want your money, I don't need an overdraft.

Boy you have a great potential, don't you let it go to waste.
My offer ends - so it's essential that you hurry on (make haste!).
For a life of milk and honey sign along the dotted line...
Thirty years of girls and money, and at the end your soul is mine!"
He said: "At the end your soul is mine!"

No one can dissuade me - I'm down on my knees,
my conscience says "No" - my libido "Yes please!"
If I put my pen to paper for eternity I'm damned.
If I don't I'll never be the singer in a fiddel band.
Can anyone blame me? - I don't think they'd dare,
my soul says "No way" - But my mouth cries "Oh yeah!"


Here I am - your good friend Norman, not so humble anymore.
Others age - but I look younger, stronger that I did before.
I used to drive a Fiat Panda - now a lime green Cadillac.
Guess my story goes to show not all the devils' own dig black.

I know there is a price I must pay for my thirty years misspent,
when my satanic manager recoups my soul (100%).
I'll meet him at the crossroads, midnight chimes - my time has come
to party with the porno-queens down by the shores of acheron.

I'll party on in acheron!

No one could dissuade me - I fell to my knees,
my conscience said "No" - my libido "Yes please!"
I have put my pen to paper and eternally am damned,
I've squandered my immortal soul by singing in a fiddle band.
Could anyone blame me? - I don't think they'd dare,
my soul said "No way" - but my mouth cried "Oh yeah!"

'Evil I did dwell - Lewd did I live' -
It's a small price to pay for the gift that he gives.
Was it all worth it? - I'm too drunk to tell,
I swap my cocaine for the brimstone of hell.




ALSO



A song I dedicate unto all those who share my need
To give their all - and should they fall strive on til they succeed.

Though my belly aches with hunger - weary limbs tremble and shiver
I'd rather go where waters flow - no well beside the river.

It's spur has driven some to Hell on an unbridled desire
No pain - no gain - the strongest chain's forged in the hottest fire

I pity you - who's eyes so blue have never known ambition
Yet can spit your judgment at me like some crazed, despotic queen
This dull existence merely half-life - (a glazed comatose condition)
Too scared to try - so born to die sat at your sewing machine

Discontentedly accepting all the world's prepared to give her
It's fate that she stagnates just like a well beside the river

Life's one almighty ducking stool we've built with our own hands.
We can swim and burn or sink and drown
'cause either way we're damned.
I'm so proud to be the tupping fool - your foul, fantastic freak,
At least each moment I've spent on this earth was totally unique.

So little man with such big plans to stand upon the stage,
Why do you squabble in the dirt - you should be reaching for a star.
By far the greatest gift that I can give, on making the front page,
It is: instead of punching faces why not practice your guitar?

More beauty has been composed than jealousy can tear and sliver.
Whilst troubled waters bubble -you're a well beside the river

Life's one almighty ducking stool we've built with our own hands.
We can swim and burn or sink and drown
'cause either way we're damned.
I'm so proud to be the tupping fool - your foul, fantastic freak,
At least each moment I've spent on this earth was totally unique.

There's a dirty job I've done for all my life without time-off
Called being me.
Though the hours are long and my pay is poor -
I can't resign it's all I'm qualified to be!


Life's one almighty ducking stool we've built with our own hands.
We can swim and burn or sink and drown
'cause either way we're damned.
I'm so proud to be the tupping fool - your foul, fantastic freak,
At least each moment I've spent on this earth was totally unique.

Though my belly aches with hunger - weary limbs tremble and shiver,
I'd rather go where waters flow - no well beside the river.


Skyclad is the fucking shit.
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BeoPuppy

Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #18 on: 15 Aug 2009, 18:06 »

Although they seem to have dropped the definite article from that statement, judging by their new CD.

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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #19 on: 15 Aug 2009, 18:08 »

There is no band that currently exists called Skyclad.

What are you talking about.
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BeoPuppy

Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #20 on: 15 Aug 2009, 18:08 »

Ah.

Shall we say ... Kevin Ridley and friends?
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #21 on: 15 Aug 2009, 18:09 »

AAAARGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGGGGHHHHHHAAAARGGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGGGGGHHHGGGGH

 :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x
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[22:26] Dovey: and at least one of those was a blatant ploy at getting sigquoted

http://panzerdivisio

BeoPuppy

Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #22 on: 15 Aug 2009, 18:12 »

... or we could never mention it again.


Back on topic: I always enjoy Cradle Of Filth lyrics. They seem to be written by a clever person. Which is nice, I think.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #23 on: 15 Aug 2009, 18:39 »

Craig David is John Keats for a new generation.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #24 on: 15 Aug 2009, 18:51 »

Josh Ritter is great and also possibly one of America's nicest dudes!
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #25 on: 15 Aug 2009, 19:41 »

If you're liking Grand Salvo you should also check out his brother Oliver Mann.

(Heads up guys: now that Martin Martini & the Bonepalace Orchestra have broken up, these are the Melbourne acts I'm going to be plugging relentlessly for the next little while.)
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #26 on: 16 Aug 2009, 10:00 »

Uh, Cursive.  Or The Good Life.  Or basically anything Tim Kasher does/did.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #27 on: 16 Aug 2009, 10:04 »

Elvis Costello.  I highly recommend you pick up his new album.  All of you.

I am going to demand that you all do as much.

Also, Colin Meloy, you silly people!
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #28 on: 16 Aug 2009, 13:18 »

Shai Hulud, hardcore/metal band.

Being Exemplary

And this is what shall come to pass.
A new precept for the world to adopt.
And this is what the children shall learn...

Prepare for the lowest standard.
Rough diamonds in the palms of fools
Unable to give the crucial gift of reason.

The unwise teaching wisdom.
The absurd defining priority.
Fools, unable to give the crucial gift of reason.

What more can be expected of a child,
Being a product of the stark worst -
Its fathers blood.

Censure rightly;
Make no mistake.
The ascendants,
They are veritably criminal.

Fare thee well
Down the random path of chance.

Godspeed.

Set sail,
Against the wind,
Under the misguiding light of faulty beacons.

Set sail,
Against the wind,
With vices for virtues,
dishonour for ethics,
And excess for etiquette,
As examples -

Such sorry examples.

And what of the children...

Ignorant of it's weight.
Blind to it's worth.

Something is terribly amiss
When the beauty and the miracle of new life
Is nothing but a burden.

This burden is a life
This burden is a child.

Men without dedication
Speaking of truth and loyalty.
Women without conviction
Teaching respect and compassion.

No.

And what of the children...
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Zingoleb

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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #29 on: 16 Aug 2009, 13:34 »

I should probably also mention Don Henley, who has written some things that I find amazing.

Today, I made an appearance downtown
I am an expert witness, because I say I am
And I said, Gentlemen, and I use that word loosely
I will testify for you
I'm a gun for hire, I'm a saint, I'm a liar
Because there are no facts, there is no truth
Just data to be manipulated
I can get you any result you like
What's it worth to you?
Because there is no wrong, there is no right
And I sleep very well at night
No shame, no solution
No remorse, no retribution
Just people selling t-shirts
And the opportunity to participate in the pathetic little circus
And winning, winning, winning

It was a pretty big year for predadors
The marketplace was on a roll
And the land of opportunity
Had spawned a whole new breed of men without souls
And this year notoriety
Got all confused with fame
And the devil is down-hearted, babe
'Cause there's nothing left for him to claim
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #30 on: 16 Aug 2009, 19:09 »

We should probably link to lyrics instead of posting them all.

Just sayin'.

Also: Bruce Springsteen has some pretty excellent lyrical compositions.
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Zingoleb

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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #31 on: 16 Aug 2009, 19:20 »

Jens - Yep! They have some real gems once you get past the fairly generic country-rock hits.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #32 on: 16 Aug 2009, 22:17 »

sunset rubdown
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #33 on: 16 Aug 2009, 23:15 »

Om?  Al Cisneros certainly has a bigger vocabulary than most songwriters I've ever heard, even if he throws in a word that maybe he made up or something every now and then.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #34 on: 16 Aug 2009, 23:52 »

It was a pretty big year for predators

This is a really badass line, just by itself.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #35 on: 17 Aug 2009, 06:50 »

Nick Cave, especially his more recent stuff
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #36 on: 17 Aug 2009, 06:56 »

Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings The Flood album.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #37 on: 17 Aug 2009, 10:33 »

Oh yeah. Jenny Lewis!
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #38 on: 18 Aug 2009, 03:22 »

Nick Cave, especially his more recent stuff

I just came looking for this thread to shout out for the Bad Seeds.

Yeah.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #39 on: 01 Sep 2009, 04:06 »

Lyrical Lovelies from Neglected Neighborhoods:

Saul Williams. The man's a poet and a rapper, and his music shows it. (Try Act III Scene 2 (Shakespeare) off his self-titled album for a taste of how awesome his lyrics are: http://saulwilliams.com/act3.html)

Actually... Tupac. His work is fantastically well-arranged musically, and then every so often surprises you with some really deep lyrics.

And most of the Rawkus Records folks are worth checking out, alternative stuff with a good sense for poetry, from all.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #40 on: 01 Sep 2009, 09:06 »

The Shins.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #41 on: 01 Sep 2009, 09:18 »

The Smiths?
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #42 on: 01 Sep 2009, 09:25 »

The Fall.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #43 on: 01 Sep 2009, 11:19 »

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

?
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Thrillho

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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #44 on: 01 Sep 2009, 14:26 »

Early Dylan, Early REM, Early Phil Ochs.

Uh, is there any point listening to early REM for the lyrics? You can barely understand the guy half the time.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #45 on: 01 Sep 2009, 14:39 »

 :roll:
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tommydski

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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #46 on: 01 Sep 2009, 15:06 »

That's the strangest myth I have ever heard. Stipe's enunciation on those early records is crystal clear. For the longest time I assumed that his voice had been brought up in the mix on the reissues but I bought an early pressing of Murmur last year and it's the same. I have never had any problem understanding the what he was singing.

Also, Stipe's lyrics in the early years of REM are superb. They have proven to be a band which (at least during their stint on IRS) have enjoyed a near unique durability in terms of my listening habits. The mysticism and luminosity of the lyrics, not to mention the brilliant delivery of the words themselves have prolonged my listening pleasure well beyond the point where I became overly familiar with the melody.
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ElectricPez

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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #47 on: 13 Sep 2009, 13:25 »

I always wonder at how great the lyrics are for Ani Difranco and Stars.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #48 on: 16 Sep 2009, 16:32 »

mm, the Alan Parsons Project I suppose?  On the one album I have by them, half the songs at least seem to be based on Edgar Alan Poe.
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Re: "Literate" Lyrics...?
« Reply #49 on: 16 Sep 2009, 16:35 »

The Night Watch by King Crimson


Shine, shine, the light of good works shine
The watch before the city gates depicted in their prime
That golden light all grimy now
Three hundred years have passed
The worthy Captain and his squad of troopers standing fast

The artist knew their faces well
The husbands of his lady friends
His creditors and councillors
In armour bright, the merchant men

Official moments of the guild
In poses keen from bygone days
The city fathers frozen there
Upon the canvas dark with age

The smell of paint, a flask of wine
And turn those faces all to me
The blunderbuss and halberd-shaft
And Dutch respectability

They make their entrance one by one
Defenders of that way of life
The redbrick home, the bourgeoisie
Guitar lessons for the wife

So many years we suffered here
Our country racked with Spanish wars
Now comes a chance to find ourselves
And quiet reigns behind our doors
We think about posterity again

And so the pride of little men
The burghers good and true
Still living through the painter's hand
Request you all to understand


Also, every John Cale lyric...
« Last Edit: 16 Sep 2009, 16:38 by Be My Head »
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