Booking Through Thursday: Sing a song

booking_through_thursLet’s go Booking Through Thursday! It’s not about books, but it is about words . . . so we’ll go with that!

“If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.

So, today’s question?

• What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love? Why?
• And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?”

Wow! I frequently blog about my favorite lyrics, great artists, sad and happy songs and just artists I love in general. I can’t think of a song in which I like the lyrics but don’t really like the tune. What’s so great about music is that deft combination of the two. Even now, typing out the lyrics to the songs I love just isn’t going to do any of them justice. You have to hear them! Otherwise, they’re a little like scrambled poetry. All of these songs “speak” to me in some way, usually because they deal with growing up, making decisions, falling in and out of love and basically becoming an adult. Many of them were songs I listened to in high school and college, so they remind me of a very specific time in my life. It’s fun to let music take you back.

Jumping in, my usual response to questions like this features me rambling on about the awesomeness that is John Mayer, my favorite musician of all time. He’s incredibly talented songwriter, guitarist and performer, and I’m usually in some ceaseless amazement of his . . . hotness. Yeah, I think the man is gorgeous.

Some of my favorite JM lyrics?

“Stop This Train”

So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young; So I play the numbers game to find a way to say my life has just begun; Had a talk with my old man, said ‘Help me understand’; He said, ‘Turn 68, you’ll renegotiate’; Don’t stop this train; Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in . . . And don’t think I couldn’t ever understand; I tried my hand; John, honestly, you’ll never stop this train . . .

“New Deep”

I’m so alive; I’m so enlightened, I can barely survive a night in my mind; I’ve got a plan — I’m gonna find out just how boring I am, and have a good time; ‘Cause ever since I tried, trying not to find every little meaning in my life; It’s been fine; I’ve been cool with my new golden rule . . . Numb is the new deep; Down with the old me . . . I’m done with the analyzing tonight; Stop trying to figure it out; It will only bring you down . . .

“Why Georgia”

I am driving up 85 in the kind of morning that lasts all afternoon; Just stuck inside the gloom; For more exits to my apartment, but I am tempted to keep the car in drive; And leave it all behind . . . ‘Cause I wonder about the outcome . . . Am I living it right? Am I living it right? Am I living it right . . . Why, Georgia, why? . . . I rent a room and I fill the spaces with whirling places to make it feel like home, but all I feel is alone; It might be a quarter-life crisis, or just the stirring in my soul; Either way, I wonder sometimes about the outcome . . . So what, so I’ve got a smile on. Well, it’s hiding the quiet superstitions in my head . . . Don’t believe me, don’t believe me when I say I’ve got it down.

And now I’ll go ahead and branch out — I’ll hit you with a little Sara Bareilles!

“Morningside”

I’m not scared of you, no, or so I say; There’s no reason to run, although I may; Not as sure as I seem, this much I know; What does it mean when you leave, and I follow? Well, I try to forget what you do, when I let you get through to me; But then you do it over again; Like a rage, like a fire . . . Keep my distance, I try; No use, no; No matter the miles, I’m back to you . . .

And some of The Killers?

“All These Things That I’ve Done”

If you can hold on, hold on . . . I want to stand up, I want to let go — you know, you know — no, you don’t, you don’t . . . Another head aches, another heart breaks; I’m so much older than I can take; And my affection, well it comes and goes; I need direction to perfection . . . You know you gotta help me out, oh, don’t you put me on the back burner — you know you gotta help me out; And when there’s nowhere else to run, is there room for one more son? These changes ain’t changin’ me — the gold-hearted boy I used to be . . .

And, for good measure, Ben Folds, another of my favorite artists!

“Still Fighting It”

Good morning, son; I am a bird; Wearing a brown polyester shirt; Do you want a Coke? Maybe some fries? The roast beef combo’s only 9.95; It’s okay — you don’t have to pay; I’ve got all the change . . . Everybody knows it hurts to grow up; And everybody does; So weird to be back here; Let me tell you what: The years go on, and we’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it . . . And you’re so much like me. I’m sorry . . . Good morning son, twenty years from now, maybe we’ll both sit down and have a few beers. And I can tell you ’bout today, and how I picked you up and everything changed . . . There was pain, sunny days and rain, I knew you’d feel the same things . . . You’ll try, and you’ll try, and one day you’ll fly away from me . . . Good morning, son; Good morning, son . . .

I need a job, and I want to be a paperback writer

paperback_writerI discovered the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” a year or so ago (hey, only about 50 years after the fact!) and I’ve pretty much decided that it’s my anthem. How often do you come across a peppy, energetic song about some desperate schlub pandering a lit agent to read his or her 1,000-page tome? Not often. Plus, the main character of the novel has a son who also wants to be a paperback writer. Art imitating life? Life imitating art? Either way, God bless you, Paul McCartney!

Paperback Writer

Dear, sir or madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

It’s a dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It’s a steady job, but he wants to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few
I’ll be writing more in a week or two
I can make it longer if you like the style
I can change it ’round, but I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

If you really like it you can have the rights
It can make a million for you overnight
If you must return it you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer . . .

An ode to my favorite fall music

Now that it’s officially cold outside (I’m in a hoodie every moment I’m not in “fancy” dress clothes!) and I’m running in and out of my heated car and office building, it’s time for some excellent cold weather tunes!

Everyone has music that reminds them of special things in their life — summer, winter, senior year, college, first love . . . music is what connects all of us and brings us back to those really incredible points in life like nothing else can. Between music and getting a random sample of cologne while out innocently marching through a department store or grabbing groceries, I can find myself nineteen again — or five, or twelve, or twenty-two.

And musically, the fall for me is all about . . . thinking, reflecting, becoming all nostalgic and crazy. I guess it’s the whole cyclical nature of things — getting ready to usher in another holiday season, looking back at all the time that has already passed, putting away the sandals and replacing them with boots and jackets. It’s another transition. And these are the folks that always come along for the ride with me . . .

Ingrid Michaelson

I adore her whimsical, light and pitch-perfect voice. I don’t think life gets much better than hunkering down in your Toyota, waiting for the heat to kick on and defrost your windshield while humming along to “The Way I Am” (the sweater song from the Old Navy commercial — yeah, you know it), “The Hat” or one of her newest ones, “The Chain.”

“The sky looks pissed. The wind talks back . . . my bones are shifting in my skin. And you, my love, are gone. My room seems wrong. The bed won’t fit. I cannot seem to operate. And you, my love, are gone. So glide away on soapy heels and promise not to promise anymore . . . and if you come around again, then I will take the chain from off the door.”

I bought Ingrid’s album Girls and Boys last fall and listened to nonstop through Christmas . . . it’s one of my favorite albums to listen to while writing. In fact, my NaNo novel last year was built in part after listening to “The Hat” for the hundredth time! Such an awesome song.

“I knitted you a hat all blue and gold to keep your ears warm from the Binghamton cold. It was my first one and it was too small; it didn’t fit you at all, but you wore it just the same. I remember the first time we danced. I remember tunneling through the snow like ants . . . What I don’t recall is why I said, ‘I simply can’t sleep in this tiny bed with you — anymore.’ I should tell you that you were my first love.”

Her lyrics sort of punch you in the gut with their simplicity — when you say “I should tell you that you were my first love,” there’s no real hiding from that — or misinterpreting it. It just is.

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I will let go if you will let go

I picked up Ben Folds’ new album Way to Normal earlier in the week — after I’d earned my Borders Bucks! I really became a Ben fan after meeting my boyfriend two years ago, though I’ve loved the Ben Folds Five song “Brick” since I first saw the disorienting video for it sometime in 1997. There’s something beautiful and haunting about his music — something real. I know I’ve blogged about it before, but it always bears repeating.

I’m loving “Cologne” — it’s such a beautiful, simple song. And, as always, it’s like one swift kick to the heart. I can’t get enough of those moments where you’re listening to something innocently — maybe driving along in your car, maybe on your iPod at work — and a tiny bubble of realization hits you: this is a song that could very well change your life. I know other people feel like that, too. This song will change the way you see yourself, the way you see others — this song will change the way you view relationships past and relationships yet to unfold.

Ben Folds has a lot of songs like that.

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Burn up in your atmosphere

I love listening to John Mayer albums — but I adore going to John Mayer concerts. Everything I love about John’s music is absolutely amplified by the live experience — the piercing guitar solos, the smooth voice, the emotional outbursts, the random ad-libbing. And the snippets and random verses he adds to classic songs.

A case in point would be a live version of “Home Life” from an import album I have — which is really random, I know. But it’s those seemingly strange, patchwork verses placed almost in addendum to the actual songs that I really love the most, I think.

“In Your Atmosphere” is another classic example of this — these emotional, thought-provoking bits and pieces he adds into his songs when playing live, usually at the very beginning or the very end. The final piece of this song is enough to fillet my tender little heart! And I mean that sincerely. I don’t know how to phrase it in a way that isn’t ridiculously cliche, other than to say that I really feel like I “get him.”

“Wherever I go, whatever I do, I wonder where I am in my relationship to you . . .”

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