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Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Val (
Date: April 28, 2002 09:18PM

Hello Sportsfans--

I'm a poet, new to this web site. I wondered who's out there and what your thoughts are on lyrics vs poetry. What do you think the difference is, or do you see a difference? Do you think poetry is a "higher" art form than lyrics? How many of you do one or the other or both? Who do you think is the best lyricist out there-past or present?

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Andrew D. (
Date: April 28, 2002 09:32PM

Val I think that poems are a great thing. I love to write poetry. But i also love lyrics. they express what someone is trying to say just as much as poems do. so what i am sayin is that i love both poems and lyrics

andrew d

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Danny Joe (
Date: April 28, 2002 10:07PM

lyrics are better (I think) but also can often be used AS a form of poetry. most of the things I post are lyrics to songs i write .The best lyricist is scott stapp from creed because of the truth and content of his powerful lyrics. this probably doesnt matter to anyone..but...hey you asked


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: J.H. SUMMERS (
Date: April 28, 2002 10:16PM

for me both poetry and lyrics are nearly the same. both should tell a story, convey a thought, or invoke our emotions. also, the best ones are never forgotten. jim steinman is good, he writes a lot for meatloaf. don henley and glen frey of the eagles are great. another is fannie j crosby who lived in the 1800's. you'll find her work in most every church hymnal ever published.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Glenda (
Date: April 28, 2002 11:22PM

Bob Dylan's old stuff

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Jack (
Date: April 29, 2002 12:25AM

Years ago I would have said lyrics are just poetry set to music, and are the same thing. Then I heard an interview with the band America. The interviewer asked about some of the unusual imagery in songs like "Ventura Highway" (alligator lizards in the air). The answer disappointed me, as I had enjoyed their music for some time. The reason behind most of their lyrics was simply "it had the right amount of sylables, and it rhymed". I have since developed a rather jaded view of most lyrics. This seems to be the currently held interpretation of "poetry" judging by most of the recent submissions to this forum (though most don't really seem to be sticklers for the sylable rule)

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: The Athenian (
Date: April 29, 2002 01:01AM

I don't think there has to be a difference between lyrics and poetry (other than lyrics have a specific tune), but there usually is.

It's difficult to say, though, since you'd have to define what exactly "poetry" is, and I'm sure as heck not equipped to do that.
There are two main things people consider when writing lyrics or poetry: aesthetics (how it sounds) and "meaning" (some kind of significance or emotional power?). A lot of the time, people write poetry and try to defend its value by saying that they put a lot of emotion into it, even if it's really just a bunch of words divided randomly into "lines." There has to be a difference between poetry and prose. I think that difference is the way that it sounds, something to do with the syllables, and structure.

With lyrics, there is no question of how to read them, because they are provided with a specific tune, whether the syllables fit the musical notes exactly or not (they often don't). A poem, on the other hand, has no tune, and the only clue of the rhythm and pace with which they can be read has to come from within itself.

I think that there must be a difference between "poetry" and "a bunch of words." When people say that lyrics are "poetic," do they mean that there is some beauty in the structure and form, or that there is beauty in the meaning behind those words?
Here's a weird analogy: Someone might say that a piece of instrumental music is good because it invokes emotions in the listener, and because the composer used strong technical ideas that worked well in the piece. I think poetry is like that, whereas lyrics can often get by with only one of those.

Wow, I sure talk a lot.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Jack (
Date: April 29, 2002 08:48AM

Jack, Jack, Jack...

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Desi (
Date: April 29, 2002 09:52AM

We've had discussions about this subject before. If you're interested try the search option on top of the page and search for lyrics.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Pam Adams (---)
Date: April 29, 2002 12:12PM

As words on a page, meant to be read, I prefer poetry to song lyrics. Lyrics usually need the support of the music to really work well.


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: April 29, 2002 10:07PM

There was a very long discussion of this question about a year ago (that long???) on this forum

At the time, some of us posted song lyrics that we felt were also poems.

I had a few in mind, and when I typed them out and read them on the page, some "worked" as poetry and some didn't -- but they were still GREAT song lyrics. Often it was the repitition of a phrase, or a series of rhyming phrases, that was powerful when sung but silly on the page.

Rather than wrangle over definitions, I'm happier thinking of a SONG as an art form. COMBINED WITH MUSIC, certain words, phrases, and repititions of words and phrases, can be very powerful. Without the music, they may or may not... it's not a value judgement.

Sometimes when I listen to songs I point out to someone (or no one), "Now THAT is a great lyric!" I do not mean that it would work as a poem. I mean that, with the music, it conveys a lot more than the sum of its syntactical elements.

Here are some that comes to mind. I make NO"plug" for them as poetry:

...I've got some news for you
And you'll soon find out it's true
And then you'll have to eat your lunch
All by yourself.
...Just remember this my friend
When you look up in the sky
You can see the stars
And still not see the light.

If my fist clenches, crack it open
before I use it and lose my cool.
And if I smile, tell me some bad news
before I laugh and act like a fool.
And if I swallow anything evil
put your finger down my throat.
And if I shiver, please give me a blanket
keep me warm, let me use your coat.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Cosmos (
Date: April 29, 2002 10:18PM

Music can make even the puerile sound significant, except for Kylie Minogue singing "Na na na na na, na na na na na." I equate it with chinese water torture.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: rikki (
Date: April 29, 2002 10:40PM

I know this sounds much too simplistic, but i think it's a matter of some lyrics being poetic and some poetry being lyrical - and then there's all the rest.
I agree with Glenda about Bob Dylan; and Tom Waits' wit and wisdom is great even without the garbage bin lids and chickens accompanying it - 'we sail tonight for Singapore... the captain is a one-armed dwarf, he's throwing dice along the wharf; in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king..'
Leonard Cohen (sorry, but i have to mention him again smiling smiley, and aussies Nick Cave and Tim Freedman also make good reading without the music, although the music makes it a better experience. And there are so many more ... and i'm stuck here at work with Muzak (eek!) playing in the background.

r smiling smiley

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: April 30, 2002 05:09AM

My favourtie lyric goes 'I'm up to the neck in the crumbling wreck- age of all that I wanted from life, when I asked for respect, all I got was neglect ' and then something like 'I buried my mind as a sign of the times' it's Al Stewart and he marries words and music in a way few others can.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: rikki (
Date: April 30, 2002 08:54PM

yes, and some more Al Stewart -

According to the myths and legends
At the fringes of our memory
Paris stole the queen of Sparta
And carried her across the sea
(something something..)
It's funny how the story lingers
It's probably a myth, of course
A whisper in the ear of Homer
Perhaps there never was a horse..


and another favourite that i didn't have time to add to yesterday's post:


It's coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It's coming from the feel
that this ain't exactly real,
or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming through a crack in the wall;
on a visionary flood of alcohol;
from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
which I don't pretend to understand at all.
It's coming from the silence
on the dock of the bay,
from the brave, the bold, the battered
heart of Chevrolet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin'
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

It's coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken
and it's here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It's coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we'll be making love again.
We'll be going down so deep
the river's going to weep,
and the mountain's going to shout Amen!
It's coming like the tidal flood
beneath the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious,
in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on ...

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Leonard Cohen
(from the album The Future)

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Pam Adams (---)
Date: May 02, 2002 02:49PM

Something that I find interesting is that poems don't stick in my mind like some songs do. I may find the tune to 'It's a Small World' or 'California Dreamin' stuck in my head, but not Shakespeare's sonnets or Blake's work.


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Cosmos (
Date: May 02, 2002 09:42PM

I saw Nick Cave in concert recently. WOW

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: rikki (
Date: May 02, 2002 10:26PM

Was he as scary as ever? Did he sing 'Do You Love Me' VERY loudly ??

Definitely wow smiling smiley

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: May 03, 2002 05:29AM

Odd that - I'm the other way round, the words stick and the tunes don't. With my husband numbers stick, words don't. If we all got together we'd make a very powerful intellect!

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Cosmos (
Date: May 03, 2002 09:50AM

He was intense, powerful and LOUD." Love letter" was bliss. He didn't scare me though. : )

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: JOC (
Date: May 03, 2002 08:06PM

lyrics and poetry are much of the same thing...real poetry can be full of rhyme and rhythm and usually can be set to some sort of music. prose on the other hand, is just a different kind of form, but still can hold some sort of music to it. poetry began being set to music, so lyrics are poetry as well.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: The Athenian (
Date: May 03, 2002 08:32PM

Does anyone here have a clear definition of what "poetry" is, by the way?

What is poetry? What isn't poetry?
These may sound like stupid questions at first, but I sure can't answer 'em.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: May 03, 2002 08:38PM


It's gone round and round-- possibly since we lived in caves and 'music' was made by banging rocks together. I'm not sure that there's any legal definition. (but the discussion is fun!)


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: James Lisle (
Date: May 03, 2002 08:51PM

Being new here, I'd like to dip my oars in the water... Weird, never thought I'd actually say that... but anyways: Lyrics and Poetry are about on par with me. Some songs are meaningless coffpopun-coff (sorry, i just have to bash pop wherever I go) and some poems are meaningless. But don't get me wrong, I'm no poem basher, here. Some songs and poems are extreemly powerful. I don't actually know that much about poetry, which maybe is one of the reasons why I'm here, but i do know music. And in my humble opinion Lyrics to a song are Poetry in the best sence. I would like to mention Dave Matthews at this point. The Dave Matthews Band has some real deep and meaningful songs form the pre-"Everyday" days. The words that come out of that man's mouth flow nicely and work well in so many situations. And never forget Bob Dylan (previously mentioned) and well... names don't come to mind right now, but all those great musicians. So basically i guess I'm a lyrics supporter just because of my lack of poetry knowledge.

I think therefor I am... But i do not think. Does that mean I am not?

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: jazzy (
Date: May 04, 2002 01:50PM

Paul Valery has said, " The power of verse is derived from an indefinable harmony between what it says and what it is. Indefinable is essential to the definition.

I believe also somewhat relevant to this discussion is a couple passages from a wonderful work about poetry which I 'plugged' (and still highly recommend) early on when new to this site, Muriel Rukeyser's " The Life of Poetry:"
Perhaps there is nothing that so seperates us from Muriel Rukeyser, at our sour end of the century, as her capacity for faith. We can accept the ground bass of war (turmoil and strife) and the conciousness of war (fear and misunderstanding) more easilly than her passionate vision of what it could mean to be American (human). Ultimately, it would mean reaching out, relationship, the dissolving of boundaries, speaking, touching, one world.
Perhaps it is oddly a little reassuring to us that a book so positive in its essence begins with a litany of obstacles. Why is poetry feared? Because it demands full conciousness: it asks us to feel and it asks us to respond. Through poetry we are brought face to face with our world and we plunge deeply into ourselves, to a place where we sense "the full value of the meaning of emotions and ideas in their relations with each other, and...understand, in the glimpse of a moment, the freshness of things and their possibilities." Through it, if we really give ourselves to the experience, we must be changed.

We resist change. Of poetry we say it"s obscure, it's boring, what sex is he or she anyway, the one who wrote it? how could I share experience with her, with him? Who has the time? the energy? We expected more. We really wanted less. We are lazy, masked.

Reader, rarely will you encounter a mind or imagination of greater scope.

She liked to say that poems are meeting-places, and certainly as one composes a poem there is a sense of seeing farther than usual into the connection of things, and then of bringing intense pressure to bear on these connections, until they rise into full conciousness for oneself and others. The farther out along the frontiers of awareness the original elements of the poem lie, or the more deeply they are hidden, the more strenuous the poet's task and the more essential the poem. It's order and music must be such as to creae a new whole.

Something of the same process of searching out and combining has obviously gone into " The Life of Poetry." You may not find this an easy book. But it has the rigor and excitement of a fine poem: REACH, DENSITY, RELATEDNESS. It will require your concentration, as it required hers.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: The Athenian (
Date: May 05, 2002 01:55AM

Wow, poetry is a philosophical nightmare!

A lot of people seem to agree that poetry is defined by its ability to be "deep" or "meaningful" or to convey some sort of emotion. While this is definitely a very important part of it, I just can't sleep at night thinking that's all there is to it.
There must be something required of poetry's mechanical or technical structure. Rhythm? Rhyme? Meter? (whatever that is)
To accept that poetry is only the "meaning" or "emotion" of a verse is to accept that pretty much anything can become "poetry." Take this sentence, for example:

"I love the bees for their honey, but I hate them for their sting."

Now, let's poemize it:

I love
the bees
for their honey
but I hate them
for their sting

Certainly, there is some emotion in there, and it can be argued to have some deeper meaning. Does that make it a poem? Is it a poem because I chopped it randomly into lines? Was it a poem when it was just a plain sentence?
It may not be the most profound poem in the world (assuming it is a poem), to be sure. But the degree of emotion and the depth of meaning can only decide how "good" it is as a poem, not whether it IS a poem or not.
If emotion and meaning are the prerequistites for poemhood, then anything at all may be considered to be poetry. Here's a poem now...


If my sarcastic-sounding comments have offended you, your thoughts are a poem.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Pam Adams (---)
Date: May 06, 2002 01:40PM


Good points!


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Lady of the Night (
Date: May 06, 2002 04:45PM


I've not even read any of the replies yet, I wanted to do my own!

How are you? Well, I hope. lyrics vs. poetry...such a controversial subject! In my own opinion, they both have potential for incredible beauty. Personally, I have a very difficult time writing lyrics, but I can normally write a poem, given correct inspiration (Even though they're not always that good!!). Some people have an easy time writing meaningful lyrics, but don't write poetry that often, or maybe it isn't as "good."

What defines good? Not subject matter or "level" of writing. Rather, how effectively did that person convey their subject (generally thoughts and emotions, but sometimes a strong opinion, as in the case of several of Jazzy's poems)? Did their choice of words paint a picture in your mind, or make you feel what the felt? Also, rhythm isn't...THAT important, however, bad rhythm can ruin a poem. Bad rhythm, in my opinion would this:

Da DA da da da da
DA da da da, da da
Da da da da da da da DA DA DA da da da DA DA

or some such. Lol, I can't even read that (good luck!). Anyways, sometimes if one line is much longer than the others, it tends to throw me off. I've also read poems that seem to lack any rhythm at all, and that's very very difficult to read.

What about good lyrics? Same thing, though the rhythm is generally defined by the music. Like I mentioned well are the lyricist's thoughts portrayed? Do they touch the audience? Move them towards love or maybe even anger? Do they sympathize with the audience's pain?

The lyrics of a certain genre, I find to be hollow and meaningless. But certainly not BECAUSE they belong to the genre. There are many songs I like that belong to that certain classification--No, I'm not telling you what it is smiling smiley In turn, I've found several poems to strike me, personally, as hollow and meaningless, not to say that they are. But, sometimes they just...I can't feel what they felt, I have a hard time seeing their point, or perhaps I don't get the feeling that they feel their emotions/opinion strongly (there's a mouthful!). For example....Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and I love you. much do you love him/her? Does your passion run deep and strong? Sometimes, the simplest of words can be the sweetest of nature. I myself am flattered very easily, and odd as it may seem, I LOVE those "cheap" pickup lines like "Is your father a thief?...Then why did he steal the stars and put them in your eyes?" Ahh! I melt! Lol. Anyways, getting sidetracked!

So again......."good" work is based upon how well their thoughts/emotions/opinions were portrayed. Sometimes grammar comes into play, but I don't think that punctuation (Brucefur tongue sticking out smiley), specific wording, etc. etc. are going to absolutely destroy or create a poem/song. I'm rambling...

You asked about great lyricists of past/present. Mmm...Trent Reznor. Some of you may know him as Nine Inch Nails. Now, before you all turn away forming crosses with your fingers, hear me out. This man has been hurt, like most of us. His heart has been torn apart by lovers past. He feels that God does not exist, because of all the pain he has seen in his life. How many of us have had our hearts broken?? How many of us know the pain of rejection, the pain of hatred??? many of us can portray it as good as he does?

"Head like a as your soul...I'd rather die...than give you control." (Head Like A Hole)

"Nothing can stop me now cause just don't care anymore." (March of the Pigs)

"My god sits in the back of a limousine; My god comes in a wrapper of cellophane; My god pouts on the cover of a magazine; My god's a shallow little ***** tryin to make the scene..." (Starf*ckers, Inc.)

My personal favorite (or one of them!) is posted at under a search for Reznor, Trent. It's entitled "The Fragile" and is absolutely beautiful. need to hear it.

YES, his music is "morbid." YES, it is dark. YES, he does scream sometimes. YES, he curses God and all his creation. YES, he has written of heresy. YES, he is angry. BUT...look at how well he portrays his emotions!! I nearly cried when I first read "The Fragile." He is an absolutely STUNNING artist, and a God of our time, if looked at in the correct point of view. Will you turn from him because he hurts and isn't afraid to show it?

On a bit of a lighter note...Jewel. Absolutely beautiful! Her first album, Pieces of You, has a "Parental Advisory" sticker on it, but that's because she swears a couple of times, and speaks of bad things in an "in your face" fashion. But...her love songs! Her song of abuse of all sorts (Daddy)..the art with which she is able to express everything in her soul!! She is also a very good poet, you should check out her book, A Night Without Armour.

Lol, wow I went off on lotsa tangents! I apologize if any of you strayed from this post in all of its ramblings, but I feel very strongly about this subject. I umm...I'm gonna go now, I have homework to do! Ciao! smiling smiley

Lady of the Night

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Lady of the Night (
Date: May 06, 2002 04:55PM

I agree! Scott Stapp is amazing...his song "Arms Wide Open" is truly beautiful. Some consider it to be sappy, but I don't!

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Lady of the Night (
Date: May 06, 2002 05:00PM

Oo!! That part at the end about an instrumental piece just reminded me of something! Trent Reznor (as is spoken of in my very very long post) wrote an instrument entitled "A Warm Place." There are no words to this song.....and no words to describe it. He PERFECTLY portrayed a warm place!! Absolutely STUNNING!!! This song was played at my cousin Selena's funeral, rather than the traditional music. It is so calm, and relaxing, and envelopes the weary soul...

Sorry, had to add in my....extra two cents tongue sticking out smiley

Lady of the Night

Re: Okay, y'all posted a turn!
Posted by: Lady of the Night (
Date: May 06, 2002 05:12PM

Okay, y'all posted full songs...I'm posting "The Fragile!!"

And this time, I'm actually going to request a response...

The Fragile

She shines
In a world full of ugliness
She matters
When everything is meaningless

She doesn't see her beauty
She tries to get away
It's just that nothing seems worth saving
I can't watch her slip away

I won't let you fall apart
I won't let you fall apart
I won't let you fall apart
I won't let you fall apart

She reads the minds of all the people as they pass her by
Hoping someone will see
If I could fix myself I would
But it's too late for me

I won't let you fall apart
I won't let you fall apart
I won't let you fall apart
I won't let you fall apart

We'll find the perfect place to go where we can run and hide
I'll build a wall and we can keep them on the other side
But they keep waiting
and picking...and picking...and picking...and picking...

It's something I have to do
I was there, too
before everything else
I was like you'd have to hear it!

And please...tell me, who in this room, cannot feel what he (and the girl) feel!!! Seriously, I'd like a response.

Lady of the Night

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: enrique (168.221.27.---)
Date: May 07, 2002 02:52PM

this topoic is pretty ridiculous due to the fact that poetry and lyrics are basically the same thing. the fact that poetryi a bit more abstract in content does not take any charm from the true nauture of a good lyricist, take this guy called eyedea for example I could easily compare to many "poets" that Ive rea before in random websites (contemporary poets) and I also believe the fact that some people denominate themselves as poet is as banal as calling yourself a philosepher I believe simply that expressing your feeling in a form of artjust makes you an artist, the reason Im sayiing this is because the majority of people I know that poetry and there is not that much like to put you face to face with the mere fact that they can express themselves on paper, personally I think that people that showoff their talent are worth not even a single letter that they type down in a piece of paper only because they take away some validity not only to their own character but to the poem itself, so I would just like to give out a little piece of opinion and refelct the fact that you shouldnt denominate yourself as a poet, painter, etc before considering the idea that you may not ....

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: The Athenian (
Date: May 07, 2002 03:11PM

um... I have no idea what you just said.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: jazzy (
Date: May 07, 2002 05:56PM

Yes, Athenian, with all due respect and love; this ranting in conjunction with that regarding my poem, altogether, really comes across as being a bit sophomoric. And it's truly "selling yourself rather short" -- as you are indeed much more intelligent than these renderings would suggest -- in a seeming attempt to come across as somewhat deep and controversial. And then again, it may just be that already acknowledged (commendable on your part) struggle for clear focus.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Ami (
Date: May 08, 2002 01:53AM

I think that it depends on the poetry you are comparing it to. There are so many types of poetry out there, some better than others, so of course song lyrics are better than SOME poetry, but definetly not all. For example, i noticed that many bands today have lyrics that mean a lot, they arent just words that rhyme, but actually have a meaning, a lesson to learn from them, that's what make those bands so wonderful, but then you have Ol' Willy Shakespeare, and Browning, and Dickenson, and MANY other poets from back in the day that are fabulous. I think that it is hard to find REAL poetry in todays society, everyone writes something once in a while, but can we consider it REAL poetry, or just thoughts on a page that were written for a reason other than to write. All these poetry contests just make more and more people write 'poetry' but tghey arent doing it for the love of poetry. (sorry i got off subject) i guess i am saying that classic poetry is better than most song lyrics, and new poetry is not as good as some song lyrics.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Joy (
Date: May 10, 2002 06:03PM

anything by the counting crows could be poetry, many of their lyrics remind me of T S Elliot such as;

'Beneath the dust and love and sweat that hangs on everybody there's a dead man trying to get out'

'You try to tell your self the things you try tell your self to make
yourself forget'

and the whole of 'Round Here'

Step out the front door like a ghost
into the fog where no one notices
the contrast of white on white.
And in between the moon and you
the angels get a better view
of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.
I walk in the air between the rain
through myself and back again
Where? I don't know
Maria says she's dying
through the door I hear her crying
Why? I don't know
Round here we always stand up straight
Round here something radiates
Maria came from Nashville with a suitcase in her hand
she said she'd like to meet a boy who looks like Elvis
she walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land
just like she's walking on a wire in the circus
she parks her car outside of my house
takes her clothes off
says she's close to understanding Jesus
she knows she's more than just a little misunderstood
she has trouble acting normal when she's nervous
Round here we're carving out our names
Round here we all look the same
Round here we talk just like lions
But we sacrifice like lambs
Round here she's slipping through my hands
Sleeping children better run like the wind
out of the lightning dream
Mama's little baby better get herself in
out of the lightning
She says It's only in my head
She says Shhh I know it's only in my head
But the girl in car in the parking lot
says "Man you should try to take a shot
can't you see my walls are crumbling?"
Then she looks up at the building
and says she's thinking of jumping
She says she's tired of life
she must be tired of something
Round here she's always on my mind
Round here hey man got lots of time
Round here we're never sent to bed early
And nobody makes us wait
Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late
I can't see nothing, nothing
Round here
Would you Catch me if I was falling
Would you kiss me if I was leaving
Will you hold me cause I'm lonely...without you
I said I'm under the gun
Round here
Oh man, I said I'm under the gun
Round here
I can't see nothing, nothing
Round here

Lyrics/Poetry - Lewis Carroll
Posted by: rikki (
Date: May 11, 2002 02:47AM

a p.s to my earlier post...

Tom Waits has just released two new cds of his stage productions - one is
"Alice", a recording of an avant-garde opera Waits staged with director Robert Wilson in Hamburg about ten years ago - it was based on Paul Schmidt's play about Lewis Carroll and his obsession with the girl who inspired Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.

Waits has described it as "A maelstrom or fever-dream; a tone poem with torch songs and waltzes... an odyssey in dream logic and nonsense."

There's a brief review of it at:
[ToledoBlade.Com] />
r smiling smiley

Re: Lyrics/Poetry - Lewis Carroll
Posted by: Glenda (
Date: May 11, 2002 01:52PM

To read an arguement against song lyrics being poetry see the following:

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: almostfamous (
Date: May 12, 2002 09:21PM

I think that poetry is similar to song lyrics. They both tell a story or how someone feels, and they both can make you feel so many emotions all at once. I too, am a poet, and I have been writing for years and I sometimes think of many of my poems as future song lyric material, and many who have read my poems also think that they would make good song lyrics. Song lyrics are poems, with music and are sun instead of spoken. That's just my personal opinion though.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Jack (
Date: May 13, 2002 11:18AM

Gliddy-gloop gloopy, nibby nobby nooby, lalalalolo
sabba sibby sabba, newby aba dabba, leeleelee lolo
newby aba dabba, newby ala walla...
I rest my case.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Lady of the Night (
Date: May 16, 2002 03:15PM

Hey, do you have any poems we could read?


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Jack (
Date: May 16, 2002 03:47PM

I guess my age is showing. This is a nonsense lyric in the song "Good morning Starshine", recorded by Oliver back in 1969-70. Unless I'm mistaken, it is from the highly forgettable Broadway production of "HAIR"

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: May 16, 2002 06:05PM

It was on the original cast album, I know that much.


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Glenda (
Date: May 16, 2002 07:49PM

Jack, how far back do you go? What's this?

Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!

Now THAT'S poetry!

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Soma (
Date: May 16, 2002 08:28PM

Regardless of how wonderful lyrics may be they are, by there very nature, attached to music. This is a great misfortune because the music dates and dies and many great lyrics are killed off in the process.

"Lyrics" by me.
Dead and rotten,
Dead as mutton
And soon forgotten.

The older generations rarely listen to the new music and the modern generation never listens to the old ones. As each generation dies out their music dies with them. In reading this very thread I find that I know none of the music that has been mentioned. Does that perhaps indicate that I may be the oldest person on this board and have never really heard any music outside my ancient era but at the same time indicate that none of you know any of the music inside it?

A year or so back I posed a question to a group of people whose ages were 18, 27, 38, 46, 67. The question was, "Who or what is Bob Dylan? I knew he was a lyricist and a poet, but that's all. One said he wrote songs. Two said they thought they had heard him sing. None could recall a song, a poem or any words.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: May 16, 2002 08:54PM

Hmmmm. I recognized many of the lyricists mentioned, although I haven't heard most of the songs. (way too fond of quiet) I do know who Bob Dylan is, although I don't believe I own any of his albums.


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: rikki (
Date: May 16, 2002 10:06PM

I agree that many song lyrics are understandably forgettable - especially the kind that Jack mentions (although he remembers those lyrics from 30 years ago!) - but then much poetry is very easily forgotten too. And many poems that are considered to be 'classics' today were originally written as song lyrics; from Alcman (7thC BC Greek lyricist) to Robert Burns; and more recently Langston Hughes "the poet laureate of Harlem"; and the lyricists of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods; and Cavalier poet/song-writers like Robert Herrick -

"he foregathered with Ben Jonson and his disciples .. and wrote some of his most spirited songs and bacchanalian lyrics. He also numbered among his acquaintance the leading musicians of the court—William and Henry Lawes, Ramsay and Laniere—and wrote songs and pastoral eclogues which were set to music by them; and some of these were sung in the royal presence at Whitehall" (

Poetry and songs give insight into the life and times in which they were written, and Beat generation lyricists like Dylan and Cohen have 'cameoed' much of the changing social, artistic and political moods of the past 40 years in western society. Understandably, this kind of folk-lore poetry doesn't appeal to everyone, but i don't think that makes it insignificant.

rikki smiling smiley

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Glenda (
Date: May 17, 2002 12:21AM

Take the haunting melody away, and the following lyrics by Erwin Drake are still pretty good.

It Was A Very Good Year

.When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We'd hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stair
With all that perfumed hair
And it came undone
When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means
We'd ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty-five

But now the days grow short
I'm in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine

From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
And it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Maz (193.112.229.---)
Date: May 17, 2002 04:03AM

I personally believe that both writing lyrics and poetry are equally good art forms. However, I do also believe that there are some lyrics that leave a lot to be desired for in terms of emotion. I have attempted to write both and I can honestly say that I find writing poetry to be the bet way for me to express myself.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Joy (
Date: May 17, 2002 02:33PM

It think your argument is very narrow, you cant just state that the younger generation do not listen to older music as if it is a fact. i am 18 and i listen to a wide variety of music old and new and i could name numerous bob dylan songs and lyrics such as mr. tambourine man, the hurricane, sad eye lady of the low lands etc etc.

also poetry ages just as music does and music can be just as timeless as poetry is perceived to be hence the trend for cover versions in todays charts. Older poetry generally is only read by people who have an interest in poetry and want to read poetry from different periods just as people interested in music will want to read/listen to music from different periods. Music is a form of art where musicians express their emotions through the lyrics and the songs are usually very personal and do not neccessarily have to be understood by anyone other than the writer which i believe is the same for poetry and is what makes the forms interesting and successful.

The fact is not whether it is 'poetry' or 'lyrics' but whether it succeeds at conveying its message. Many people would not beable to tell whether a verse is poetry or song just from reading it flat on a page and it is not any less meaningful or great because it is a song as opposed to poetry.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Fly (66.138.1.---)
Date: May 18, 2002 10:26PM

While riding on a train goin' west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin' and singin' till the early hours of the morn.

By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
Our words were told, our songs were sung,
Where we longed for nothin' and were quite satisfied
Talkin' and a-jokin' about the world outside.

With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
We never thought we could ever get old.
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one.

As easy it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split.

How many a year has passed and gone,
And many a gamble has been lost and won,
And many a road taken by many a friend,
And each one I've never seen again.

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
That we could sit simply in that room again.
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.

my favorite bob dylan~smiling smiley

Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Floraliaa (202.131.151.---)
Date: May 19, 2002 11:19AM

well right now, all lyrics cant be called poetry because a lot of them seriously suck// so you have a boom boom i want you in my room or whatever... but songs are essentially (the way they started out) poetry set to music. a lot of poets wrote songs, and song writers today are sometimes poets-- depends on what music you listen to really. music is poetry in sound if you think abt it

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Fronky (
Date: May 21, 2002 06:59PM

The difference between poems and lyrics, I think, is rather simple. Lyrics are set to music. In this way they have the ablility, or at least should, to meld the words with the music. This melding is illustrated by a lot of talented people (my opinion Roger Waters, Bob Dylan, Robert Hunter). Poetry can be powerful itself in that it relies only on words (aside from meter and cadence) to get its point and feeling across.

By the way, contrary to a previous opinion, I think Bob Dylan's new stuff is as good or even, dare I say, better than his old stuff. He's realized a lot of things as he grew (and grows) older and they are reflected in his lyrics. Peace and Love.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Lychgate (
Date: May 25, 2002 06:29AM

Daniel Llyod Davey (AKA Dani Filth) is the best lyricist ever, in my opinion:-

"Dusk and Her Embrace" by Cradle of Filth

When the sun has wept upon the waveless lake
And the mists steal in with ease
Covened wolves are their eerie dissonant napes
In adoration of the moon and thee

"They call as I to thee...."

And I will come, as if in dream
My languid, dark and lustrous Malaresian Queen
Of vengeful, ancient breed
Gilded with the pelts of many enemies
Erishkigal, raven-haired
Thy seduction haunts the castle in erotic despair
I can taste thy scent by candlelight
Legs of porcelain traced and laced to their lair
Appease the beast on spattered sheets
Dyed unearthly red as sobriety weeps

She shall come for me

A black velvet painting sprung to elegant life
Like a poignant Madonna perverted to night
And I have ridden from the westerning light
To expend my lust
Tear away the funereal dress
Know that I will escape from my death
Surrendered to the splendour of her sharpened caress

Lo! The pale moonlight
Weaves a poetic spell of vital death and decline
Of mist and moth and the hunger inside
Kisses took to fever and the fever, demise

"Through twilight, darkness and moonrise
My scarlet tears will run
As stolen blood and whispered love
Of fantasies undone"

Countess swathed in ebony
And snow-white balletic grace
Rouge-filmed lips procure the wish
For lust and her disgrace

Dusk and her embrace

We shall flit through the shadows
Like a dream of (were)wolves in the snow
Under deadly nightshade
Still warmed with the kill's afterglow

Beneath the stars thy flesh bedevils me
(Beneath the stars taste the death in me)
Bequeath to me thy fiery kiss
To sever thin mortality

My heart is thine
Thy fragrant words Warm within like wine....

"Let me come to thee"
With eyes like Asphodel
Moon-glancing, loose desires free
To writhe under my spell"

Ereshkigal, raven-haired
Thy seduction haunts the castle in erotic despair
I know thy scent by candlelight
Immortal flesh I yearn to share
Appease the beast on spattered sheets
Dyed malefic red as sobriety weeps
She shall come for me....

Unfurl thy limbs breathless succubus
How the full embosomed fog
Imparts the night to us....

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: Lady of the Night (
Date: May 28, 2002 04:46PM


I'm 17 and I've heard of Bob Dylan! tongue sticking out smiley We studied his song "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" last year in my Humanities class. While I didn't particularly enjoy it...I did like his intention and the subject of the song. Though I don't remember the lyrics particularly, I'd know them if I heard 'em.

Just thought I'd tell ya! tongue sticking out smiley


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: lg (Moderator)
Date: December 23, 2005 02:31PM

Bump, just for the heck of it.


Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 23, 2005 09:30PM

She was just 17?

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: IanB (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 23, 2005 09:34PM

The past is another country, Johnny.

Re: Song Lyrics vs Poetry
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 24, 2005 06:40AM

I know what you mean

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