Poetic License Not Always Earned
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 17:10
W hile I love catchy tunes as much as the next college student who occasionally just wants to mindlessly listen to music. Sometimes, though, I can’t help myself from wondering what musicians — or lyricists for those singers who can’t write their own songs — are thinking half the time. And no, I’m not really referring to “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis. After all, almost every verse explicitly says, “Where were you when we were getting high?” No mystery there in terms of what triggered those lyrics.
I’m thinking more along the lines of songs whose meanings are intended to be a little more obvious but either literally or symbolically don’t make sense. For example, what usually gets me is the first line in the chorus of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” which says, “I’ll be your crying shoulder.” Maybe I’m just not interpreting this metaphor correctly, but honestly, I didn’t know that body parts other than eyes could shed tears. The following line, “I’ll be love’s suicide,” is at least somewhat poetic but has no denotative meaning.
You may have been able to deduce from the examples that I’ve given so far that I’m basically married to the ’90s (though lately I’ve been cheating on my Third Eye Blind Pandora station with Mumford & Sons), so I’ll try to branch out a little bit because Edwin McCain’s blunder actually reminds me of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” I don’t want to judge you, Taylor, because you seem like a reasonably smart girl based on the massive fortune that you single-handedly made for yourself. But maybe if you had taken a break from fending off all of those country boys who broke your heart and instead paid attention in high school when you were supposed to be reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, you would know that you can’t be a scarlet letter; you wear one because you’ve committed adultery. Maybe you’re trying to say that you’re the sin for which someone else is guilty? I still don’t really follow this logic, but I’m trying to throw you a bone here because that song probably raised your net worth by a few million dollars. You also reference Romeo and Juliet, which tragically ends in suicide, but I won’t even go down that road.
Unlike Taylor Swift, however, I have absolutely no respect for Ke$ha. I have yet to hear her sing, rather than talk or yell, but even then I’m not sure that her lyrics would be up to par. Take “Tik Tok,” for instance. The songstress claims that she wakes up feeling like P. Diddy. Really, Ke$ha? Do you actually know what it feels like to be Sean Combs? Because the last time I checked, he has talent, style and a record company on top of a music career about which he could legitimately boast.
But, as Noel Gallagher, lead singer of Oasis, once insisted, his crazy lyrics mean something different to each and every one of his fans; we can just conclude that songwriting being a form of artistic liberty that doesn’t need to make sense most of the time. That, and maybe musicians just need a cheap rhyme once in a while because let’s face it: All anyone really wants to be able to do is dance to a good beat and pretend to mouth along to unintelligible lyrics.
Allie Doughty is a senior in the College. GEORGETOWN BABEL appears every other Friday in the guide.