Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, February 08, 2005



Speaking speedily in vast generalizations:

The Tin Pan Alley / Broadway / Hollywood lyricists echo the 17th-Century English lyricists (excepting Milton), more Cavalier than metaphysical, and their Elizabethan forebears. The sophisticated approach to love affairs, the love-as-metaphor-for-anything-and-everything approach to lyricism and, by extension, life. And, technically, the Alley and the Cavaliers shared a strophic prosody, where any lyric can boast its own verse-form; for instance, a 3-syllable line followed by an 8-syllable line followed by 2 4-syllable lines. They could all write it boxy and 8-to-the-line or whatever too, and the rockers can get all unorthodox strophic as well, but this is a by-and-large.

Rockin’ an’ Rollin’ songs start out little different than what came before, songwords-wise, with the delicious exception of a fondness for non-lexicographical syllables. But certainly by the time of Dylan's serious influence, the rockers are 19th century Romantics as compared to the Alley cats. The post-Stipe Iron(ic) Age rockers are quasi-post-Romantics, egoistically evading the Lyric I, historically analogous to Mallarme.

Hip hop lyrics are often Augustan -- didactic and programmatic; KRS-One is our age's closest writer to Alexander Pope that I know of, whether page poet or aural poet.

Like I said, this is speedy and generalized.


I’m sorry, I can’t help it, but whenever I hear him singing, “my love lies waiting silently for me,” I think of a corpse. Though I suppose his love could be deaf and mute.

Fortunately, Petula Clark’s version, which was recorded not long after the original, doesn’t switch positions, as such songs often do -- see Patsy Cline’s “Wayward Wind,” where "HE was born the next of kin, the next of kin to the wayward wind," as opposed to when a man sings it, in which "*I* was born," and so on. So it’s Petula’s love who’s lying waiting silently for her. Doesn’t make the song any better, but the gender-stereotype reversal is nice.

And it is a PRETTY song, don’t get me wrong. Just gives me the willies, that’s all.

Another of Simon’s songs talks about reading Dickinson and Frost, but I really think Poe’s more his man, not just thematically, but also the jingle-jangle clang-a-rangle fondness for alliteration.


Little Richard
Woody Guthrie
Hank Williams

You don't hear these people on radio much, because their voices stick out from the smooth fabric of the wall-to-wall sonic carpeting that radio strives to provide because people WANT it. (I like it too, and have recently grown fond of the local Smooth Jazz station.)

As an aspiring record-maker, it's hard to realize that part of my highest fantasy is to make something so good it will blend into the background.

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