I understand why some artists keep their music instrumental and stay far away from writing lyrics. Even if you can’t sing yourself it is not that difficult to find a decent singer, it is difficult however to write decent lyrics. Not everyone gets away with nonsensical lyrics and not everyone is considered a poet, like Bob Dylan, and therefore gets away with being impossible to understand. Some solve the problem by not trying to make sense at all, and just pen down acid induced streams of consciousness. I don’t think anyone ever found any sense in ‘A whiter shade of pale’ (Procol Harum). Some say it is about sex, I think it is probably about drugs, or what happens when someone tries to write while being on drugs. It just seems to be more sensible to write lyrics no one understands. At least better than following all the clichés of writing a love song and describing someone’s beauty with far-fetched comparison and analogy. I mean…John Lennon supposedly wrote ‘I am the Walrus’ after receiving a letter from a kid who said they were analysing Beatles lyrics in English class. If the story is true, it makes a great song even greater, even though it’s clearly a song about nothing.
Personally I like lyrics. Looking up lyrics and trying to understand what a song is about is one of the first things I do. It all dates back to my adolescent days. I was a political punk and an alienated kid at the same time. That’s why I loved both The Clash and Joy Division. It is a strange combination, I admit. I mean, who wants to change the world in which he sees no place for himself? What strange perspective is that? At the time I definitely not thought about it sequentially, like: let’s change the world into something that suits me, something I can live in. No, I just drowned myself in melancholy, probably because it was the sanest thing to do for a kid who only wanted to be loved, who only wanted to have a girlfriend. They say every year a new generation of Joy Division fans emerges from adolescence, so the band must have a pretty universal appeal on kids. I can only say that Joy Division was my beacon of seriousness in a world that was too light. Their music channeled my melancholy and made me write the worst poetry imaginable. It also gave me one of my dearest musical artifacts, a Joy Division/New Order book of lyrics. Actually not more than a bunch of photocopies. I bought it from someone at High School and analysed the lyrics over and over again. It made me the most knowledgeable alienated kid possible. Even though love did tear me apart there was still method to my madness.