This is the final part of my mini-series on my personal favourite song lyrics. As I have put this list together over the last few weeks I have become more and more aware of the glaring omissions. You will all, no doubt, have your own list of songs that should have been included - all I ask you to do is to spend the rest of the day humming them to yourself.
I Can't Get Started - Ira Gershwin
The world of blogging is full of synchronicity, and therefore it was with no particular surprise that I read the first comment to the first part of this series from my good friend Martin Hodges who said that he had been unable to get the tune and lyrics of "I Can't Get Started" out of his mind. This brilliant Gershwin song was always going to be in my top ten lyrics. I have had to search a little for a suitable YouTube clip because I was anxious to ensure that whoever sang it included the oft missed out verse about selling short in 1929. A wonderful example of fine lyric writing and high economics coming together.
"In 1929 I sold short
In England I'm presented at court
But you've got me downhearted, cause I can't get
started with you
You're so supreme, lyrics I write of you
Scheme, just for a sight of you
Dream, both day and night of you
And what good does it do?"
Just Like A Woman - Bob Dylan
You just have to include Dylan because he has been poet and songwriter to a generation - my generation. As with so many other songwriters, you are spoiled for choice : but what a glorious way of being spoiled. Here is his rich and sultry "Just Like A Woman"
"Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain
That Baby's got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls
She takes just like a woman, yes she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl".
Small Day Tomorrow - Fran Landesman
There is something so wonderful and relaxed about this fine lyric from one of my favourite lyricists, Fran Landesman. She is not as well known as many other of those writers of the "Great American Songbook", but she also wrote the wonderful words to "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most". If you don't know the song, don't worry. Sit back and let Irene Kral send you to sleep in the nicest possible way.
"I don’t have to go to bed
I got a small day tomorrow
A small day tomorrow
I don’t have to use my head
I’ve got a small day tomorrow
I can sleep the day away
And it won’t cost too much sorrow
So tonight this cat will play
He got a small day tomorrow
Now all those big wheels
With all their big deals
They’re going to need their sleep
But I’m a drop out
Who’d rather cop out
Than run with all the sheep"
Suzanne - Leonard Cohen
Leonard has to be on the list because, as far as I am concerned, there has been no finer songwriter in the last 100 years. I haven't even attempted to pick out the best of his work to illustrate his entry in this list : the task would be near impossible as there exists such a magnificent body of work. So I have chosen the best video clip I could find which comes from his recent world-wide series of concerts. Luckily, the clip features one of his classic songs, Suzanne. If "I Can't Get Started" was a fine example of lyric writing and economics coming together, here we have the confluence of lyric writing and religious philosophy.
"And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind".