Most poetic lyrics in Richard Goldstein's The Poetry of Rock (1969)

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When she says, 'Feed your head!' is she really telling the youth of America to turn on? Yes, in every sense.

Poll Results

The Beatles - In My Life 2
Bob Dylan - Desolation Row 2
Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth 1
Donovan - Sunny Goodge Street 1
The Byrds - Eight Miles High 1
The Beatles - Penny Lane 1
Jackson Browne - I Am a Child in These Hills 1
Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues 1
Arlo Guthrie - The Motorcycle Song 1
Simon & Garfunkel - The Sounds of Silence 1
The Beatles - A Day in the Life 0
The Association - Along Comes Mary 0
The Doors - Horse Latitudes 0
Leonard Cohen - Suzanne 0
The Lovin' Spoonful - Summer in the City 0
The Mamas and the Papas - California Dreamin' 0
The Doors - The End 0
The Mamas and the Papas - Strange Young Girls 0
Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit 0
The Who - Substitute 0
Janis Ian - New Christ Cardiac Hero 0
The Bee Gees - New York Mining Disaster—1941 0
Procul Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale 0
Procul Harum - Homburg 0
Phil Ochs - Crucifixion 0
Leonard Cohen - Dress Rehearsal Rag 0
Joe Tex - Papa Was Too 0
Joe Tex - The Love You Save (May Be Your Own) 0
Tim Hardin - Misty Roses 0
The Beach Boys - Wonderful 0
The Incredible String Band - Koeeoaddi Theme 0
The Fugs - Morning Morning 0
Donovan - Sand and Foam 0
The Lovin' Spoonful - Coconut Grove 0
Bob Lind - Elusive Butterfly 0
Simon & Garfunkel - The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) 0
Ben E. King - Spanish Harlem 0
Tim Hardin - If I Were a Carpenter 0
The Lovin' Spoonful - Darling, Be Home Soon 0
Jefferson Airplane - Comin' Back to Me 0
Donovan - Young Girl Blues 0
The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby 0
The Beatles - Norwegian Wood 0
Moby Grape - Motorcycle Irene 0
The Doors - Twentieth Century Fox 0
Van Morrison - Brown-Eyed Girl 0
Bob Dylan - Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands 0
Johnny Cash - I Walk the Line 0
The Byrds - Everybody's Been Burned 0
The Supremes - Baby Love 0

stoomcursus rockisme (unregistered), Sunday, 5 July 2015 19:42 (two years ago) Permalink

I left out the section on early rock 'n' roll because I had to pare it down to 50 options. and for all Goldstein's ambitions of reclaiming early r 'n' r as high art, he seems to only really value the lyrics for their primitivism. here's what he included:

Chuck Berry - Rock 'n' Roll Music
Chuck Berry - Almost Grown
Chuck Berry - Maybellene
Little Richard - Long Tall Sally
Elvis Presley - Hound Dog
Gene Vincent - Be-Bop-A-Lula
The Teddy Bears - To Know Him Is to Love Him
Gene Chandler - Duke of Earl
The Crystals - Uptown
The Coasters - Yakety Yak
The Silhouettes - Get a Job
Barry Mann - Who Put the Bomp
The Jaynettes - Sally, Go 'Round the Roses
Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel
Willie Dixon - Back Door Man
Willie Dixon - Spoonful
The Troggs - Wild Thing
Aretha Franklin - Respect
The Who - My Generation

I also left out these two Roger Miller songs for space reasons (and because I have a personal beef against Roger Miller):

Roger Miller - King of the Road
Roger Miller - My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died

stoomcursus rockisme (unregistered), Sunday, 5 July 2015 19:45 (two years ago) Permalink

I have a personal beef against Roger Miller

Do tell.

holger sharkey (Tom D.), Sunday, 5 July 2015 19:46 (two years ago) Permalink

the funniest part of the book is when he claims that Procul Harum's lyrics are so over-the-top that they barely merit inclusions, and yet he still throws in two of them ("Stripped of their rhythmic robes, these lyrics make ponderous poetry. In fact, they reek of random allusions and post-graduate funk).

the most baffling moment is when he refers to Johnny Cash as 'Dylan without a metaphor', and yet his selection for Cash is the metaphor-laden 'I Walk the Line'. he seems to have only a grudging respect for non-rock lyricists: at one point he characterizes soul lyrics as inexpressive, claiming that Joe Tex is "the closest R and B comes to achieving a lyrics significance that is profound without appearing stilted."

(Joe Tex is great though)

stoomcursus rockisme (unregistered), Sunday, 5 July 2015 19:53 (two years ago) Permalink

xpost - [I don't feel comfortable sharing the details on a public forum]

stoomcursus rockisme (unregistered), Sunday, 5 July 2015 19:55 (two years ago) Permalink

barely merit inclusions

stoomcursus rockisme (unregistered), Sunday, 5 July 2015 19:56 (two years ago) Permalink

Crikey (xp)

holger sharkey (Tom D.), Sunday, 5 July 2015 20:05 (two years ago) Permalink

Right this second it's Arlo, though if I really sat down and thought about this seriously it seems inevitable I'd pick "Subterranean Homesick Blues."

a chamillionaire full of mallomars (Doctor Casino), Sunday, 5 July 2015 20:07 (two years ago) Permalink

Based on lyrical quality alone, it's gotta be "The Sound of Silence". I can't think of too many opening lines as strong and evocative as "Hello darkness my old friend..."

Tuomas, Sunday, 5 July 2015 20:15 (two years ago) Permalink

I'm torn between 'Eight Miles High', 'Suzanne', and 'Wonderful'. the two Dylan lyrics are great, but they don't look so impressive on the printed page, imho. it's interesting how the author favors lyricists who are generally considered lightweight in 2015. did rock fans regard John Sebastian and John Phillips as serious 'song-poets' in 1969? I don't necessarily disagree with his assessment (relative to some of his other inclusions, at least), but they definitely haven't been mythologized to the same extent as Dylan and Morrison.

stoomcursus rockisme (unregistered), Sunday, 5 July 2015 20:19 (two years ago) Permalink

One thing I know for sure, it's not "Motorcycle Irene" by Moby Grape.

holger sharkey (Tom D.), Sunday, 5 July 2015 20:20 (two years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 12 July 2015 00:01 (two years ago) Permalink

Funny, I just loaned this book to a friend a few weeks ago in advance of a podcast he did with Goldstein (quite good, as it turned out; Goldstein has some amazing stories, like the Velvet Underground playing his wedding after-party in exchange for--long-gone, I think--liner notes he wrote for the first album). As I flipped through the book before the loan, I started thinking that back then, with no internet, Goldstein probably had to sit down and transcribe all the lyrics by hand.

I was wrong. When I glanced at the intro, he got most of them from sheet music courtesy of the record labels.

clemenza, Sunday, 12 July 2015 00:07 (two years ago) Permalink

In answer to the question...I'm not very good at detaching lyrics from the song itself. My favourite songs here are "Substitute," "Desolation Row" (but not "Sad-Eyed Lady"), "Eight Miles High," "Norwegian Wood," "Darling, Be Home Soon," "Feelin' Groovy," and, from the omissions, "Almost Grown." So one of those. I think "Norwegian Wood" is very poetic.

clemenza, Sunday, 12 July 2015 00:12 (two years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 13 July 2015 00:01 (two years ago) Permalink

Think the topic got more replies than votes.

austinato (Austin), Monday, 13 July 2015 00:15 (two years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Today's rock partisan - plugged into a stereophonic nirvana - is more likely to arch his eyebrows than his pelvis. He may casually remark, with a gleam in his hookah, "I empathize with it. It has truth and beauty. Besides, my kids say it's psychedelic."

My Body's Made of Crushed Little Evening Stars (Sund4r), Tuesday, 14 March 2017 03:38 (eight months ago) Permalink

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