As if two blogs and assorted photo-sharing sites weren’t enough, this week I decided to add another blog to the stable. Rock Vocab is my excuse to post videos of some of my favourite songs, with the catch that they have to deploy interesting or unusual lyrics, with the premise that the blog will highlight tracks that have expanded the rather limited vocabulary that rock and pop lyrics tend to rely upon. (‘Ooh baby, yeah baby, I love you bayyyybeee…’).
I’ve always appreciated the effort when a songwriter shows the richness of the English language, and with any luck the random function on my iPod will spit out plenty of examples that I’ve forgotten along the way. Perhaps it’ll also encourage me to stay a little more in touch with current releases, given that I’m usually loath to listen to commercial radio.
Despite my love of interesting lyrics, I’ve often discovered the words of a song after being drawn in by the tune or the vocal performance. Perhaps that’s got something to do with having both a love of great pop hooks, coupled with mildly duff hearing, so I have to listen quite carefully to pick up specific lyrics. Sometimes it’s nigh-on impossible, like when John Martyn is slurring his woozy way through some late-night number, when rapid rappers befuddle me with quick-fire machine-gun delivery, or when American singers (and increasingly, their New Zealand emulators) drown their performances in show-off melismatic frippery (‘I-eee-I-eee-I will always love yooo-ooo-uuu-uuu…’), unleashing a soulless vocal dexterity that ultimately overshadows the quality of the song.
I guess a good lyric is like a well-written story: anything that can surprise the listener with an innovative approach is worth examining. With any luck there’ll be plenty of material for the blog. Suggestions welcome!