I keep coming back to this subject and recently posted two songs as poems . Posting these songs prompted me to delve a bit deeper and this is what I decided.

In my humble opinion, and that is all it is, there are 3 types or levels of song in relation to poetry.

Keep in my mind this is my personal view of art, the gist of which will probably be familiar to regular readers now

( emotion) Imagination + Intellect = Art

Type 1.  She loves you – The Beatles

Consider this simple song by The Beatles, which never fails to put a smile on my face.

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah

You think you’ve lost your love
Well, I saw her yesterday-yi-yay
It’s you she’s thinking of
And she told me what to say-yi-yay.

Much as it is a classic much loved pop song, as I read the lyrics above it does nothing for me, it creates no emotional response and certainly no intellectual spark. In fact even with the music the words do nothing for me. In a sense they could be anything. The magic of this song, for me, lies completely in the music and the music alone and therefore I don’t see the lyrics as poetry.

Type 2.  Mad World – Tears For Fears

Next are some lyrics of the song Mad World by the band Tears for Fears .

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world

Although also a classic pop song much loved by myself, I find it differs in the sense that on reading the words it stimulates an emotion/imagination response followed by an intellectual response. By this I mean I find enjoyment and beauty in the sound of the words, the use of words in the sentences and how it flows. I then want to understand what it is trying to convey. Although the music is also superb, the fact that I can enjoy this song without the music, as a stand alone read means I regard these lyrics as poetry.

Type 3 Crying Lightning – Arctic Monkeys

This is where I got a surprise. Next are some lyrics for Crying Lightning by the Arctic Monkeys.

Outside the cafe by the cracker factory
You were practicing a magic trick
And my thoughts got rude, as you talked and chewed
On the last of your pick and mix

Said your mistaken if your thinking that I haven’t been called cold before
As you bit into your strawberry lace
And then a flip in your attention in the form of a gobstopper
Is all you have left and it was going to waste

This is, for me, the same as Mad World and therefore I see it as poetry. However in this case I personally think it improves when accompanied by the music. This particular band are from the northern English city of Sheffield and therefore have a heavy guttural Yorkshire accent which is perfect for this type of social commentary verse. So I guess this is music enhanced poetry.

7 thoughts on “POETIC SONGS

  1. This is good stuff, Nigel. I like all of those songs. The Beatles song I’ve heard. Who hasn’t, right?
    I didn’t realize Tears for Fears did “Mad World” since I’d never heard that particular song by them. I always thought it was a Gary Jules song, but he covered it for the Donnie Darko movie.
    I hadn’t heard that Arctic Monkeys song, but I agree with your thoughts on music enhanced poetry. My particular favorite song by them is “Do I Wanna Know?”
    Also, I’m not sure if it’s the browser I’m using or what, but the link for the Arctic Monkeys song goes back to the Tears for Fears song, just so you know.
    Thanks for the post. I love discovering new-to-me music and rediscovering music I haven’t heard in a while.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you liked it, no surprise we like similar music. Yes that is the original version of Mad World. Thanks for the ‘link error’ should work now. If you’ve the time and inclination I’d be interested what you though of a band called 12 DIRTY BULLETS sort of London’s answer to the Arctics.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nigel! Thank you for sharing 12 Dirty Bullets with me. I hadn’t heard of them and wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really like their music. I hear lots of different influences in their sound. And I love the grittiness of his voice. There’s just so much raw emotion. The lyrics are amazing.
        When I first searched for them, I found a video for a song that was titled ‘Young Girl’. I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll start there.’ It was an acoustic number which I immediately fell in love with, but I wanted to see if there was an amped up version and couldn’t find one. In fact, I couldn’t find ‘Young Girl’ anywhere. So, I listened to all three albums (thanks Apple Music and the Internet) and discovered that ‘Young Girl’ was simply mistitled and it was actually supposed to be “Away With the Stars”. That was my first experience with them and probably one of my favorite songs. All three albums in their entirety are really good.
        Oh, I also wanted to share that I used to be a big Duran Duran fan. I hadn’t really followed their music since I was about 11 or 12 when my musical tastes went in a different direction, but last week for some reason I started listening to them to again. So now it’s a little fun rediscovery and some new discoveries as well. Thanks again for sharing.


      2. You’re welcome, so glad you like the band. Like you I think some of their lyrics are amazing and indeed ‘Away with the Stars’ is a favourite of mine also.
        I love the line ‘I bought you a thought’ . I can’t believe they’re not more commercially successful but that’s the thing ‘right place, right time’. Wow ! Duran Duran, erstwhile creators of the new romantic movement along with Spandau Ballet, ABC etc. I was never into those groups but I’ve got copies of certain tracks. I was attracted to the dark side. Though never a teenage Goth I was and still am a big Joy Division fan, early Cure (first 3 albums) Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus. I like most rock music from Buckcherry to Linkin Park . I struggle with pure rap, house/ dance but love trad soul,r&b even psychobilly like the Cramps and meteors ! Duran Duran ! well I never. Thank you also for sharing.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “Bought You a Thought” is an awesome song. I agree, they really should be more commercially successful. Hopefully that’ll happen for them.
        I hadn’t heard of Joy Division or Bauhaus so I gave them a listen. Bauhaus does seem to have a dark sound. I like it! And I liked The Meteors’ version of CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” that I found. That was fun to listen to.
        I like most rock, too. Ah, yeah, Buckcherry is good!
        I wasn’t into the whole new romantic movement except for Duran Duran. They were it for me. I still remember when my brother’s girlfriend at the time came to visit (she lived in a different city) and she brought me a huge Duran Duran poster. It took up one whole wall of my room. I couldn’t have been happier.
        In my post Duran Duran phase, I guess it only made sense that I leaned more toward rock; the whole hair band/glam scene. That was the big thing back then.
        Not a fan of rap either, but some soul and r&b is good. I haven’t listened to a lot of rockabilly but one band that comes to mind is Volbeat. They’re a Danish rock band. Some say they’re ‘heavy metal’. That label bugs me for some reason. I’d say they’re pretty hard rock and while some of their songs are less rockabilly than others, they still have that sound. And they definitely have interesting lyrics, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Intelligent and illuminating response to the question you pose, Nigel. I suppose there is bad poetry, indifferent poetry , and good poetry – whether set to music or not. A tricky question, because good poetry can be set to poor music, can be sung, or spoken badly too. in which case, it can require that time to ponder and consider the effect, and the meaning of the words before deciding on its true impact. Free verse can also blur the distinctions between poetry and prose – good or bad. A complicated question indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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