Ring Like Crazy, Ring Like Hell

What is it about song lyrics that dig down deep into your heart and stay there, intermittently tugging on the strings?

Pandora, along with a quiet workplace, is a recipe ripe for new musical discoveries.  However, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to stop work and write down a song name so I could go look it up later and add it to my library of ever-expanding goodness.

I used to want, more than anything, to be one of those rock n’ roll chicks, with a band behind her, crashing drums, dirty electric guitars, numerous amps, etc etc.  I thought that was the epitome, the ultimate, the place to be.

I became incredibly annoyed with myself when I couldn’t produce songs like that.  I couldn’t write a rock song to save my life.

Things now, however, have changed.

Someone once told me it’s easy to be in a rock band.  You’re essentially hiding behind the reverb, the effects, the volume of the instruments.  It sounds badass, and is super fun to play/listen to, but it’s not real.

I see the value in their words now.  I believe them.

There’s something raw and emotional about a microphone, a piano, and a voice.  You’re naked, exposed, having to carry the melody, the lyrics, the entire song, yourself.  People can hear those lyrics, and they better be good.  They better mean something.

Take Gregory Alan Isakov’s Stable Song:

remember when our songs where just like prayers,
like gospel hymns that you called in the air.
come down come down sweet reverence,
unto my simple house and ring…
and ring.

ring like silver, ring like gold
ring out those ghosts on the ohio
ring like clear day wedding bells
were we the belly of the beast or the sword that fell…we’ll never tell.

now i’ve been crazy couldn’t you tell
i threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell
now i’m covered up in straw, belly up on the table
well and sang and drank, and passed in the stable.

that tall grass grows high and brown,
well i dragged you straight in the muddy ground
and you sent me back to where i roam
well i cursed and i cried, but now i know…now i know

and i ran back to that hollow again
the moon was just a sliver back then
and i ached for my heart like some tin man
when it came oh it beat and it boiled and it rang..its ringing

ring like crazy, ring like hell
turn me back into that wild haired gale
ring like silver, ring like gold
turn these diamonds straight back into coal

(I was just going to post a few lines, but how do you pick a few lines from this brilliance?)

It’s simple.  It’s heartfelt.  It’s perfect.  Easily one of my top 10 favorite songs, and I never say that.  You can trace his journey through the lyrics, and no matter what your experiences, you can relate.  You can feel it.  It’s as close to a perfect song as you can get.

Words are words, but it takes some real talent to arrange them into something that makes people feel.  Readers, what songs have touched you?



Writing Wednesday, 2

Instead of something I wrote, this week we will dive into a song written by the talented and hilarious Chuck Cannon.  This is songwriting, folks.  This is what is should be.

Well, there’s only one road running through these parts
It pretty much stops right where it starts
It goes nowhere ‘cept around and around
I ain’t ever gonna get outta this town

Well, the train pulled out and it never came back
There’s weeds growing up through the rusty old track
And planes fly over but they never touch down
I ain’t ever gonna get outta this town

There’s this dream that I’ve been dreaming now for years
Where I fly into the sun and disappear…

I got an old Chevy Nova sittin’ up on blocks
Bunch of greasy old parts in a cardboard box
I got her runnin’ one time but she broke back down
I ain’t ever gonna get outta this town

I’ve been stealing Jenny’s kisses since 11th grade
And there ain’t no runnin’ from the love we made
Now we’re shopping for a stroller and a wedding gown
I ain’t ever gonna get outta this town
I ain’t ever gonna get outta this town

Well we buried my daddy, sing Amazing Grace…
Preacher said now he’s in a better place…
Well, I couldn’t help thinking as we put him in the ground…
I ain’t ever gonna get outta this town
I ain’t ever gonna get outta this town.