How often do you listen to music? I mean really listen to it?
Sometimes, you will have heard a song countless times before you actually listen to it properly, or understand it, but so long as the tune is good, the lyrics often get overlooked. You might know all the words, and you might even sing along to them, but every now and then you’ll stop yourself and have to go back for another listen.
“Are we human, or are we dancer?”
Excuse me, what?
Ok, that was a bad example, as that song happens to be rubbish anyway, but you get the idea.
I’m not saying stupid lyrics would necessarily put me off listening to a song, but I do prefer it when they make sense, and especially if they are either poignant or amusing.
Unfortunately, modern music is not especially well known for having cleverly crafted lyrics. I have desperately tried to cling on to my youth by listening to Radio 1 since returning to the world of commuting, but have recently had to accept (with considerable sorrow) that I am now officially too old. We had a good run, Radio 1, but over the years I was working locally and wasn’t listening to you in the car, we grew apart. It’s not you, it’s me. Actually, no, it is you. Your taste in music is horrendous nowadays.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I decided to embrace middle-age and give Radio 2 a whirl. It turns out that’s not for me either. Well, not yet at least. I still have all my own hair and haven’t quite lost control of any of my bodily functions (my wife may disagree), so I’ll give it a miss for now and perhaps try again in a few years when I buy my convertible. The thing is, they don’t play enough music, and when they do it’s all a bit dreary. Maybe I caught them at a bad time, but I was dangerously close to falling asleep at the wheel.
As far as I am concerned, music was at its best between the mid-1980s and the early-2000s, but no major radio stations seem to cater for that. I’m stuck in the limbo between Radio 1 and Radio 2.
So in the end, I turned – almost in desperation – to local radio. After skipping past a number of stations who were all bizarrely playing Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran at the same time (I’m not even joking, it got to the point where I assumed Simon Le Bon must have died), I stumbled across Signal 1 (incidentally, the only decent thing to come out of Stoke since the A50) playing Your Song by Elton John. Now, I quite like this track as it happens, and must have heard and sung along to it countless times over the years, but on this particular day, as I yearned to find a radio station I could have a long-term relationship with, I really heard the lyrics for the first time.
And they are properly, utterly, dreadful.
Let me explain…
“It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside”
Ok, fair enough, not a bad start. Elton has got me intrigued about this funny feeling inside him (oh, behave).
“I’m not one of those who can easily hide”
No shit, Elton. If you’d wanted to hide, might I suggest wearing something slightly less glittery, brightly-coloured and flamboyant? There is a reason you’ve never seen Ray Mears sporting a feather boa.
“I don’t have much money, but boy if I did, I’d buy a big house where we both could live”
Hmm. I’m not convinced. Whilst this song was admittedly his first big hit, way back in 1970, I still reckon he wasn’t as skint as he’s making out here. I’m pretty sure he could have stretched to a semi at least (I said, behave).
“If I was a sculptor, but then again, no. Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show”
Right, even if I ignore the piss-poor grammar, what does this even mean? It doesn’t really follow on from the last line, and sure as hell doesn’t lead in to the next one, so it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s the ramblings of a mad man.
If this is Elton contemplating a sudden career change, not only is it inappropriate to do so mid-song, but he should really be looking at more conventional occupations. Sculpting is a bugger to get into at the best of times (and even harder to make any real money out of if he wants to buy a big house), and I’m pretty certain ‘travelling potion man’ is something he’s just made up.
“I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do. My gift is my song and this one’s for you”
That’s a nice gesture Elton, really it is, but a few seconds ago you were saying you would buy me a big house to live in, and now all of a sudden you’re offering something with no monetary value whatsoever? Tell you what, if this song really is a gift, sign any royalties over to me and we’ll call it quits.
“And you can tell everybody, this is your song”
Maybe I will, but it’s a little presumptuous to assume I even want it in the first place, isn’t it? Luckily for you, I quite like the tune, but we need to work on these lyrics.
“It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done”
True, it’s not the most overly-complicated composition of all time, but I think Elton is doing himself a disservice here. Being someone with no musical talent whatsoever, I’m impressed by anyone who can write a song, let alone play piano and sing it too. It’s certainly too early to be jacking it all in to join a travelling show, no matter how many potions he might have up his sleeve.
“I hope you don’t mind”
Why? What have you done?
“I hope you don’t mind…”
Yes, you’ve said that already, get on with it.
“…that I put down in words. How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world”
Why would I mind you saying that? It’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Hold me, Elton. Don’t say anything else, just hold me.
“I sat on the roof, and kicked off the moss”
Well, that was a mood killer. Where did that come from, and what the hell are you now doing on a roof? One minute you’re travelling around the country making potions, and now you’re a fucking steeplejack? Pick a career and stick to it man.
Besides, don’t take this the wrong way, Elton, but you don’t strike me as the adventurous roof-climbing type, so there’s a good chance you’ll fall and hurt yourself. It’s just plain reckless if you want my opinion. Even if you don’t fall, you might end up hurting someone else by kicking shit off a roof at them, and at best anyone walking past is going to get a face full of soggy moss. I’d suggest you get down from there immediately and start acting your age.
“Well, a few of the verses, well they’ve got me quite cross”
If I’m honest, that last line has me pretty pissed off too. You wrote the damn thing though. If the words are getting you angry, you had the chance to change them before you recorded the song. Plus, this is meant to be a gift isn’t it? Why would you write me a song with lyrics that make you angry? That’s just mean.
“But the sun’s been quite kind, while I wrote this song”
Another weird tangent. So it’s ok that the words have made you angry, because you got a tan while you wrote them, is that what you’re saying? You’re furious, but fabulously bronze at the same time?
“It’s for people like you, that keep it turned on”
Keep what turned on? The sun? You do realise the sun kind of powers itself, don’t you? I mean, I appreciate the gesture, but it’s a little over the top and I’d prefer it if you were more realistic. If you’d said “keeps me turned on”, it would have been a bit forward and pervy, but at least it would have made sense.
“So excuse me forgetting, but these things I do. You see, I’ve forgotten if they’re green, or they’re blue. Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean”
You’re rambling again, Elton, and your grammar is appalling. Where did you go to school? Get to the point man, for pity’s sake.
“Yours are the sweetest eyes, I’ve ever seen”
That’s another lovely sentiment Elton, truly it is, but I’m starting to see all these grandiose gestures for what they really are. It’s all well and good saying my eyes are the sweetest you’ve ever seen, but if that were really true, you’d have at the very least remembered what sodding colour they are. Don’t think you can flatter me and get away with the fact you clearly haven’t paid any attention to what I look like.
“And you can tell everybody, this is your song”
Yeah, you’ve said that already, but I’m not sure I even want your stupid song anymore. You make all these extravagant gestures, tell me you’ll buy us a house, and compare me to the sun, but when push comes to shove you’re still a nutter who’s planning on kicking moss in my face from thirty feet up.
Besides, I’m a stickler for proper grammar, so I don’t think I could be in a long-term relationship with someone who thinks the line “if I was a sculptor, but then again, no. Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show” is good English.
Anyway, my eyes are browny-green.
So thanks, but no thanks. You can stick Your Song where monkeys shove bad nuts.