Archive for the ‘Lyrics’ Category

Jesus in Gym Shorts

September 16, 2017

the Secret sits in the middle and knows
Robert Frost, Secret Sits

I headed for the hills
I needed introspection
To muffle my mind
And calibrate direction

Jesus in gym shorts
Smiled and waved “hi”
He was happy and barefoot
As he jogged on by

Was He an apparition
Was he a regular guy?
I searched for a sign
And looked to the sky

I caught up with the jogger
He gave me his advice:
“Always eat your vegetables
And try and act nice”

I could ask a thousand questions
Things that can’t be known
We live a wild dance
But the Secret sits alone

By Richard W. Bray

the warmth of you

September 9, 2017

the warmth of you
melts away the hurt
love like a river
washing out the dirt

the song of you
pulses through my mind
your tender melody
compassionate and kind

the joy of you
sparkles like a star
I wish I could absorb
everything you are

by Richard W. Bray

Clichés Don’t Make the World Go Round, but They Can Make Songs Better

September 4, 2017

Ira Gershwin

The Word Mavens are Wrong

Style guides and writing teachers say we should avoid clichés like the plague. They’re bad, hackneyed, and trite. They say clichés are crutches, used by writers who are too lazy and stupid to think up new ways to say things.

But the experts wrong. Clichés have all sorts of wonderful uses.

Assisting Thought by Evoking a Visual Image

Many clichés are metaphors. According to George Orwell, an effective metaphor “assists thought by evoking a visual image.”

The anti-cliché crowd argues that no matter how strong or evocative a clichéd metaphor might be, its power dwindles with repeated use. But that ain’t necessarily so.

If you say, “Mary is burning the candle at both ends,”  a vivid picture comes to my mind which highlights the possible pitfalls of Mary’s behavior. This is an example of an outstanding metaphor that doesn’t diminish in fortitude no matter how many times you hear it.

The phrase “you’re just putting a band-aid on that problem” is another clichéd metaphor which remains evocative and effective despite repeated use.

These two clichéd metaphors are still effective because, even if we no longer light our houses with candles, candles and bandages are still part of our shared consciousness.

Metaphors—Dead, Alive, and Otherwise

But metaphorical clichés will lose vigor as words go out of fashion.  For example, the expression “hoisted by his own petard” packed a much greater rhetorical punch in an age when people commonly referred to bombs as petards.

Sometimes linguists employ the term “dead metaphor” to describe phrases like “hoisted by his own petard.” They reason that metaphors only remain “alive” as long as we can picture them in our mind’s eye.

But what if I tell you that Larry, who’s a very casual sports fan, just jumped on the Dodgers’ bandwagon? Even if you don’t know that there was a time when politicians actually hired wagons full of musicians to attract voters, it’s still easy to see what this expression means. So, is the bandwagon metaphor, alive, dead or somewhere in between?

Not All Clichés are Created Equal

Not all clichés are created equal. And the better ones deserve respect.

Of course, many clichéd metaphors are duds. And a bad cliché is about as effective as a screen door on a submarine.

I tell students that the best way to judge the potency of a metaphor is to visualize it. For example, try to visualize yourself “throwing some shade on someone.”

The cliché “throwing shade on someone” means to deprecate a person. It’s a lousy metaphor and it sets my blood to boiling every time I hear it.

On the other hand, when Victor says, “Yo, man. I’d loved to hang out with you guys all day, but I gotta bounce,” he’s employing a marvelously robust metaphor. It tells me that Victor is so active he’s downright kinetic.

Ira Gershwin Hearts Clichés

As Ira Gershwin explains in his book Lyrics on Several Occasions, “The literary cliché is an integral part of lyric-writing.”

Sometimes lyricists cleverly rework a familiar cliché into a song. Like when Smokey Robinson says “I’m a choosy beggar, and you’re my choice.” Or when the Temptations sing “Papa was a rolling stone/Wherever he laid his hat was his home.” Or when Paul McCartney asks: “Would you walk away from a fool and his money?” Or when the Who’s Rodger Daltry laments, “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth.”

Gershwin notes that clichés are an essential part of the songwriter’s toolkit because:

The phrase that is trite and worn-out when appearing in print usually becomes, when heard fitted to the appropriate musical turn, revitalized, and seems somehow to revert to its original provocativeness.

An Essential Part of the Songwriter’s Toolkit

Here are some examples of songwriters putting clichés to good use:

Irving BerlinI’m Putting all my Eggs in One Basket

Phil CollinsAgainst All Odd

Gene AutryBack in the Saddle

Los Hermanos GershwinBidin’ my Time

Arthur HamiltonCry Me a River

Waldo HolmesDon’t Rock the Boat

Cole PorterI Get a Kick Out of You

Sammy CahnHigh Hopes

Norman Whitfield and Barrett StrongHeard it Through the Grapevine

Neil DiamondLove On the Rocks— (Nice pun, Neil)

Ian HunterOnce Bitten, Twice Shy

Robbie RobertsonThe Weight (Take a Load off, Annie)

Stevie WonderSigned, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours

Al Hoffman and Dick ManningIt Takes Two to Tango

Larry Blackmon and Tomi JenkinsWord Up

Aaron Schroeder and Wally GoldIt’s Now or Never (Music by Eduardo di Capua)

by Richard W. Bray

 

Making bean tacos for the ones we love

August 19, 2017

Every meal is sacred
A gift from above
Making bean tacos
For the ones we love

If there isn’t enough
We can always make some more
For friends and neighbors
Who knock on the door

Food is existence
And cooking is art
When you share a meal
You’re sharing your heart

We laugh and we love
We comfort and console
In every household
The kitchen is the soul

by Richard W. Bray

if you ever got a problem

August 5, 2017

if you ever got a problem
or if you’re feeling down
you only gotta tell me
I’ll come riding into town

when walls are collapsing
and you can’t escape your trouble
I’ll be there in a minute
to protect you from the rubble

when life is an inferno
and things are looking dire
you’ll see me rushing in
to pull you from the fire

I’ll deliver you from danger
I’ll rescue you from strife
I’ll be your rope ladder
I’ll be your jaws of life

by Richard W. Bray

Shrug

July 23, 2017

I chased annihilation
In a thousand roadside bars
Then I pulled myself together
And discovered who you are

Surprised to see me happy?
Disappointed I’m alive?
Were you quietly applauding
My inevitable demise?

A girl who never liked me
Said, “Hello” and wished me well
Disappointment in her voice said
“I’m amazed you’re not in hell”

Surprised to see me happy?
Disappointed I’m alive?
Were you quietly applauding
My inevitable demise?

Chastise and condemn
And tell yourself you’re blessed
I can only shrug:
I’m wishing everyone the best

Surprised to see me happy?
Disappointed I’m alive?
Were you quietly applauding
My inevitable demise?

by Richard W. Bray

W L B

July 15, 2017

You’re a backstabbing loser
And a four-faced snitch
A never-ending whimper
And a whiny little bitch

You swallow some drinks
And you talk a lot of shit
Nobody wants to listen to
A whiny little bitch

You got a lot of theories
But you’ll never admit
What you did to yourself
Cuz you’re a whiny little bitch

You’re a fixating fool
Never knowing when to quit
Nobody wants to listen to
A whiny little bitch

by Richard W. Bray

happiness is sad song

July 1, 2017

Happiness is a sad song
Charles Schultz, from the book Happiness is a Warm Puppy

Everything was beautiful
Until it went wrong
Happiness
Is sad song

Weeping for Hecuba
And all those hurts beyond
Happiness
Is sad song

Poking ancient agony
Clutching what is gone
Happiness
Is sad song

Accepting my reality:
I loved you all along
Happiness
Is sad song

by Richard W. Bray

You Don’t Get a Vote

June 18, 2017

Look at that messed up
Couple over there
She’s got a million tats
He never cuts his hair

Can’t you just be happy
They have one another?
Can’t you be happy
They found love with each other?

What could those people
Ever see in each other?
She’s the wrong age
And he’s the wrong color

If you got a comment
Just keep it in your throat
It isn’t your life
You don’t get a vote

So wrong for each other
Just headed for trouble
It really makes me sad
When the wrong people couple

In this crazy old world
It ain’t easy to stay warm
Can’t you just be happy
They found shelter from the storm?

by Richard W. Bray

fog

June 10, 2017

My guts are bleeding
My anatomy’s afire
The fog is receding
I’m a loser and a liar

Takes a toll on my health
When I pretend to be ok
Been lying to myself
Since I sent you away

Alone in my room
A wayward little boy
Living on the fumes
Of the love I destroyed

by Richard W. Bray