What’s the first song that drove you to memorize its lyrics?
As a little kid, I remember being obsessed with song lyrics — “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” especially. I used to put Billy Joel’s greatest hits on my stereo and lay on my waterbed, following the lyrics in the liner notes of his box set. Each pithy snippet represented whole chapters of world history I had yet to explore. I was just impressed he could make everything rhyme.
Then came “End Of The World” by REM; Sawyer Brown’s cover of “The Race Is On” and “Sold” by John Michael Montgomery. The superfast bridge in “Our House” by Madness. I loved it all.
It took me a long time to realize that less was more. Reading Hemingway the summer before 8th grade was probably what irrevocably convinced me. But until then, I was pretty sure that more complicated lyrics meant better songs.
As my dad pointed out, “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies was the most popular song in America at the time. Can you blame me?
I asked some friends about their own first lyrical conquest. Here are their responses:
Credentials: Has been absolutely fiery with her music recs lately; is currently driving up to Sasquatch, the No. 1 place in the world I want to be this weekend; once told me she thought she was the only one who knew Sam Cooke, thus endearing me to her with a reflection of my own brand of music knowledge and subtle superiority.
“ABC by Jackson 5.
“Or actually no. Britney Spears’ ‘Oops, I Did It Again.’”
Credentials: Was the first friend whose music tastes I truly respected and emulated; briefly convinced me that Good Shoes was going to be the biggest band of 2013; introduced me to mashups, which blew the back of my skull out onto my car’s back windshield like Marvin in Pulp Fiction.
“On solid repeat? Cake – The Distance. “
Credentials: Shares with me a deep-rooted love of Britpop; kicked off one thousand drunken nights by listening to the same 16-song CD that really just doesn’t have the staying power we pretend it does; actually played music for, like, crowds of people, which has to count for something, right?
“Like pop song? Or dumb school recital song?
“‘Here We Go’ by NSYNC I’m pretty sure.”
Credentials: Once almost attended a free Counting Crows show in Philadelphia with me – almost; was right next to me at one of the three best concerts I’ve ever seen in my life, Bruce at Hershey Park; posts a deadline decompression song on his Facebook after especially rough days covering Philly’s mean streets.
“All The Small Things by Blink“
Credentials: Pretty much the wellspring of my musical tastes; taught me the Beatles and Bowie and Bruce and Billy and Buffett and a thousand other worlds of sound and story; stays hip by listening to the VIRAL HITS playlist on Spotify, for some reason.
“So, like, looked them up, or paid attention to? Not just sort of learned by osmosis? “She Loves You” in German.
“Then, the lyrics to Suicide is Painless (The theme to MASH) Then Duran, then Buffett.
“The first song that really affected me, lyric-wise, was “Meeting Across The River.” I could not believe that someone wrote that and set it to music. holy crap. Thinking about discovering Bruce gives me goosebumps, even now.”
Credentials: Spent hundreds of days sharing Emerald newsroom DJ duties with me, often putting up with DJ Fresh or George Strait; was right next to me at one of the three best concerts I’ve ever seen in my life, Bruce at the Rose Garden; actually saw Paul McCartney and Bruce together at Hyde Park, which will top anything I write from this point forward, so I might as well just stop writing right here.
“This is so embarrassing. And I had to look it up.
“But it was ‘I Need To Know’ by R Angels from the ‘Stuart Little’ soundtrack. :/
“Laura Addy and I played the music video over and over and over and over until we had the whole thing memorized.”