Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Toad's Favo(u)rite: 33-1/3 RPM

Friends, I was all set with another favorite poem to share. And then I found myself on a road trip, listening to music, ruminating about how people discovered new music years ago as compared with how we find it today. For me, it went like this:
Hear a tune on the radio
or read it in Rolling Stone
head off to National Record Mart
at the mall
to buy the album
zip off the shrink-wrap at home
place it oh-so-carefully
on the record player
of my father’s stereo
(nickel on the arm)
insert a cassette tape in the slot
press record/play
TURN UP THE VOLUME
settle cross-legged
in the oversized chair by the speakers
read the lyrics on the record liner
as the music plays. Repeat.
The artists to whom I gravitated as a young person were the lyricists, the storytellers, the poets. My young mind was blown, over and again, sitting there poring over the lyrics in the liner notes, reading the words, listening to them being sung, committing them to memory.

I am sharing today two musician-poets and the particular song-poems for which I have a specific memory of being blown away, hearing them for the first time as a teenager, and over and again to this day, whenever I hear or read these words. I’m guessing one or both will be familiar to many of you, so perhaps this will be a happy re-visiting. Or if these are new to you, so much the better. I am not including the audio, in order for us to focus on the words. (And you all know you to find them, anyway.) Enjoy!


Thunder Road
by Bruce Springsteen

The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
I just can't face myself alone again
Don't run back inside, darling you know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me

You can hide 'neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain for a saviour to rise from these streets
Well now I'm no hero, that's understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night's bustin' open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven's waiting down on the tracks

Oh oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey I know it's late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my car's out back if you're ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door's open but the ride it ain't free
And I know you're lonely for words that I ain't spoken
Tonight we'll be free, all the promises will be broken
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines roaring on
But when you get to the porch they're gone on the wind, so Mary climb in
It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win


Human Hands
by Elvis Costello

I've been talking to the wall and it's been answering me
Oh darling, how I miss you
I'm just the mere shadow of my former selfishness
I crave the silhouette of your kiss
With only the blue light of the TV on
Lip-reading threats and false alarms
There's a boy somewhere holding hands with himself
And a girl in a window on the Reeperbahn

Whenever I put my foot in my mouth and you begin to doubt
That it's you that I'm dreaming about
Do I have to draw you a diagram?
All I ever want is just to fall into your human hands

With the kings and queens of the dance hall craze
Checkmate in three moves in your heyday
But the girls don't listen to your line anymore
Now you're part of someone else
On the factory floor you still say "Where’s the action?"
Now you manufacture happiness
And get sold on the cheap for someone's satisfaction

Whenever I put my foot in my mouth and you begin to doubt
That it's you that I'm dreaming about
Do I have to draw you a diagram?
All I ever want is just to fall into your human hands

All you toy soldiers and scaremongers
Are you living in this world? Sometimes I wonder
In between saying you've seen too much
And saying you've seen it all before
Tighter and tighter, I hold you tightly
You know I love you more than slightly
Although I've never said it like this before

Whenever I put my foot in my mouth and you begin to doubt
That it's you that I'm dreaming about
Do I have to draw you a diagram?
All I ever want is just to fall into your human hands

17 comments:

Kay L. Davies said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay L. Davies said...

I looked back to Springsteen's beginnings (because that's what I remember, the 70s and 80s) and came across a Lester Bangs review, in Rolling Stone, of Springsteen's debut album. It made me think of what you said about wanting us to pay attention to the words.
Lester Bangs said, "...what makes Bruce totally unique and cosmically surfeiting is his words. Hot damn, what a passel o' verbiage."
So, I could wish I'd written that, but I didn't, therefore I can only agree with you, Marian, and also with Mr. Bangs.
K

Mama Zen said...

"Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright"

I still cry every time he hits those lines. One of my absolute favorites, Marian.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Wow! This Elvis Costello song contains the most amazing ideas, and expressed in wonderful phrases. From the opening line to the last I get the sense that this is so much more than a sing-a-long.
I crave the silhouette of your kiss...

All you toy soldiers and scaremongers
Are you living in this world? Sometimes I wonder
In between saying you've seen too much
And saying you've seen it all before...

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing your love of both songs.

hedgewitch said...

Two classics, Marian. And I'm with you on the memories of radio and vinyl. Thanks for sharing.

Other Mary said...

Very cool choices! Love them both, but particularly the EC lyrics.

Susan said...

Ok, I'll admit this is my first close look at these two. I stopped memorizing with early Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Joan Baez and then switched to the classics--then new--at Olivia records and Broadway musicals. I am grateful for you, Marian, who give these two and all the other music you have introduced me to since I started visiting the garden.

Marian said...

Glad you all like these. I felt a bit like I was cheating, but these words! Elvis Costello's words here seem particularly apt today, as our US government shuts down. (For crying out loud.)

Patricia A. McGoldrick said...

Thanks for such a great selection! Two such talented musicians have made such a mark in music.
The backgrounder is so identifiable for most of the readers here.
With many older brothers & sisters, I saw a lot of changes in music and technology, similar to your reflection here today. :)

Susie Clevenger said...

Fantastic choices Marian. Both singers/songs have so much to say and do it so well. I so agree with you about Elvis Costello's song being so timely. I can't believe our government shutdown. We are certainly not the shining light for democracy at the moment.

Robert Bourne said...

oh you took me on a merry journey down memory lane.... :)

Ella said...

Great pics Marian! Maybe we should write a song ;D

No, you aren't cheating! It is timely-sad, but so fitting~

Heaven said...

Thank you for the great selections Marian ~ I enjoyed reading both of them ~

grapeling said...

good calls, marian

Lolamouse said...

Marian,

Thunder Road is my absolute favorite Bruce song. I didn't even have to read the lyrics you posted, as I know them all by heart. Elvis Costello is another favorite artist of mine. His songs are short but pack a punch. Two completely different styles but both with so much to say. Thank you for the smiles today. Needed it!

wkkortas said...

I know this is heresy for those who grew up in the Rust Belt back in the day, but Born To Run is, in my view, a pretty second-rate album. You can't argue with "Thunder Road", "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" is pretty damn good and I have a personal fondness for
"Meeting Across The River". But "Night" and "Backstreets" are pretty so-so, "Born To Run" could have been done by BTO or Grand Funk Railroad, and I find "Jungleland" downright unlistenable.

Herotomost said...

Its all in the lyrics, I am in total agreement. The darker the better for me and I love to feel the emotion from great lyrics especially if they do a great job during the live performance like Springsteen does.