The point is, I've been thinking about doing this ever since I read her blog about her favorite Replacements lyrics. And while their probably are some "artists" (I always feel like a tool using that phrase with regard to pop music) who I could mine for a list of top 10 favorite lyrics (Billy Bragg, Frank Black, Stephin Merritt) I thought it would be fun to come up with 10 favorite from different "artists." This is a working list. I am probably totally forgetting others that I love, but these are the ones I've been able to come up with over the last couple of weeks. And I'm writing a little commentary too--some of them might require justification. But all of these are lyrics that I find positively yummy, usually because they express some idea or image that I find yummy. You know, yummy to the brain?
(These are in no particular order.)
1. "Now that you've made me want to die/you tell me that you're unboyfriendable/and I could make you pay and pay/but I could never make you say."
--"All my Little Words" The Magnetic Fields
First of all, this is the best song I know of that expresses heartbreak as simultaneously sad, wistful and angry. Secondly, it includes the single best word in a song pretty much ever.
2. "You know you're semi-good lookin'/out on the streets again./Oh yeah, you think you're really cookin' baby/you better find yourself a friend."
--"Ain't Talkin' About Love" Van Halen
I've talked about this song (and this particular lyric) at length elsewhere. But really, who but Diamond Dave could pull off calling a chick "semi-good lookin'"? It's the best un-compliment ever.
3. "Shirley, your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle/Shirley, we are joined in the ideological cuddle/I'm celebrating my love for you/With a pint of beer and a new tattoo."
--"Shirley" Billy Bragg
Many of you who know me well probably already know that I think this is one of the most romantic songs ever. Which reveals way too much about me. But I love this lyric because 1) I think I would enjoy an ideological cuddle. Or even ideological cuddling. 2) Bragg captures the whole blue-collar, working-class romance thing. Which I am, in fact, very romantic about. I could sigh over a guy who would celebrate his love for me with a tattoo and some beer. (Or even just the beer, actually.)
4. "'O lonely urchin!' the widow cried,/'I've not been swept since the day my husband died.'/Her cheeks a blushing, her legs laid bare/And shipwrecked there I'll shake you from your sleep."
--"The Chimbley Sweep" The Decemberists
This is a super vague, but super hot lyric in the middle of an Eighteenth-century inspired narrative song by a band from Portland. C'mon. What is there for me to NOT love about that?!
5. "It's a beautiful day/No, it's a horrible day/You can see here by my grin I don't give a fuck/It's a beautiful day/No, it's a horrible day/For the first time in my life I don't need the luck."
--"Horrible Day" Frank Black
Next time you are having a bad day, download it and sing along at the top of your lungs. You'll get it.
6. "Now on the bus/Nearly touching this dirty retreat/Falling out 6th and Powell, a dead sweat in my teeth/Gonna walk walk walk/Four more blocks, plus the one in my brain/Down downstairs to the man, he's gonna make it all okay"
--"Needle in the Hay" Elliott Smith
This song makes me cry pretty much every time I hear it. Damn you Elliott Smith. Damn you Wes Anderson. It also instantly conjures up a picture of the Ross Island Bridge. And that makes me want to cry too.
7. "We would shout/And swim about/the coral that lies beneath the waves./Oh what joy/for every girl and boy knowing they're happy and they're safe."
--"Octopus's Garden" The Beatles
Screw all y'all. I love this song. It's the first Beatles song I fell in love with, and the reason that I started listening to Abbey Road, which is the one album I'd take with me if I were stranded on a desert island. And, really, I would like to live under the sea. (Remember--Gus says I'm a mermaid . . . ) Seriously. Screw all y'all. I can have a whimsical side if I want to.
8. " I've known a lot of girls before/What's the harm in knowing one more?/Maybe we could even get together/Maybe you could break my heart next summer /Why bother? It's gonna hurt me/It's gonna kill when you desert me/This happened to me twice before/Won't happen to me anymore
--"Why Bother?" Weezer
I love songs about low self-esteem. And about not having high expectations. Rivers Cuomo, you make the world much less lonely for sad bastards everywhere.
Not everything needs explanation though:
9. "The most tender place in my heart is for strangers/I know it's unkind, but my own blood is much too dangerous."
--"Hold On, Hold On" Neko Case
10. "Like the naked leads the blind/I know I'm selfish, I'm unkind./Sucker love I always find,/Someone to bruise and leave behind."
--"Every Me Every You" Placebo
You can play too---