Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006) (1 Viewer)

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I'm gonna have to give this another spin...after the Lennie Tristano lp I have on currently
 

Cornu Ammonis

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Hah

Lads, they're song lyrics, not any kind of poetry. Can we all stop pretending that the two are somehow equivalent?
Not all singers are poets and not all poems are without music. The word lyric goes back to the lyre, which was used to accompany poets as they recited their works. Poems are often broken down into cantos (songs) and some songs work without any kind of musical accompaniment or recital. If you really think they're not equivalent, I'd highly recommend the work of Leonard Cohen to you.
 

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Not all singers are poets and not all poems are without music. The word lyric goes back to the lyre, which was used to accompany poets as they recited their works. Poems are often broken down into cantos (songs) and some songs work without any kind of musical accompaniment or recital. If you really think they're not equivalent, I'd highly recommend the work of Leonard Cohen to you.
I really think they are not equivalent, and I am already familiar with the work of the one actual poet anyone knows about who also made popular music. They're totally different art forms, it's just a cliche to say good song lyrics are "like poetry". Be honest now, who here has actually read a poem since their leaving cert? Who owns a book of poetry? Who has read a poem in the last year? If they really had anything non-superficial in common don't you think people who are into music would also be into poetry?
 

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actually, the last sentence above there is kinda daft, I retract it

The rest stands. Honestly I think anyone who equates song lyrics with poetry probably has very little interest in poetry at all. Speaking as someone who actually cares about poetry a little bit like. They're just different things
 

Cornu Ammonis

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actually, the last sentence above there is kinda daft, I retract it

The rest stands. Honestly I think anyone who equates song lyrics with poetry probably has very little interest in poetry at all. Speaking as someone who actually cares about poetry a little bit like. They're just different things
I honestly can't tell if you're serious or trolling. I was convinced by your post before this that you were dismissing poetry entirely by presuming no one would read poetry except as part of their leaving cert but you claim to care about poetry without being able to acknowledge the intertwined and convoluted history between poetry and song. You assume that poetry's lack of popularity proves that it is not the same thing or not comparable, is this true of plays versus theatre? Pop music versus dub reggae? Camogie is less popular than hurling, therefore they are not at all the same?

What makes a poem a poem and not a song? Is it only music? If I presented a well written verse to you in the absence of any context, could you tell me if it was a poem or a song based on how it appears on the page? What happens when a poem is set to music? What happens when a song is spoken without music or melody?
 

hugh

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Of course song lyrics and poetry are not equivalent but that does not mean that song lyrics cannot be poetic in form or intent, which is clearly the case with Newsom. @travispickle's criticism is perfectly valid, even though I don't agree - I think her lyrics are much better than that.
 

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You assume that poetry's lack of popularity proves that it is not the same thing or not comparable
That's the bit I retracted, having realised I was talking shite. Sorry!

If I presented a well written verse to you in the absence of any context, could you tell me if it was a poem or a song based on how it appears on the page?
What if it was a badly-written verse? More likely to be a bad poem or a bad song (or even a good song)? How about a piece of prose - could you tell it was from a song without the music? As far as I can see describing lyrics as "poetry" is just an attempt to classify a piece music as highbrow rather than lowbrow, a distinction that I don't think is useful ... in fact, IMHO it's a distinction that unfairly denigrates music that is less cerebral
 

Cornu Ammonis

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That's the bit I retracted, having realised I was talking shite. Sorry!


What if it was a badly-written verse? More likely to be a bad poem or a bad song (or even a good song)? How about a piece of prose - could you tell it was from a song without the music? As far as I can see describing lyrics as "poetry" is just an attempt to classify a piece music as highbrow rather than lowbrow, a distinction that I don't think is useful ... in fact, IMHO it's a distinction that unfairly denigrates music that is less cerebral
Fair point. My reasoning behind those sort of comparisons is that some lines need a music and melody to lift them from being just meaningless or banal. For example, I love Bowie and I don't think he's low brow by any means but equally I don't think most of his lyrics stand up on their own. Equally, I don't think there's anything to gain by setting all poems to music. Some work, some don't (in both directions). I do feel you're throwing the baby out with the bath water by saying there's no equivalence but hey, that's album club!
 

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here's some (random) Joanna Newsom (song) lyrics (not poetry)

Joanna Newsom said:
I roam around the tidy grounds
of my dappled sanatorium.
Coatless, I sit
amongst the motes, adrift,
and I dote upon my pinesap gum.
And the light, through the pines,
in brassy tines,
lays over me, dim as rum
and thick as molasses.
And so time passes.
And so, my heart, tomorrow comes.

I feel you, leaning,
out back with the crickets,
loyal heart marking the soon-ness,
darkness:
tonight, still,
the mourning doves
will summon us their song
of love's neverdoneing lawlessness, lawlessness

while, over and over —
rear up! stand down! lay round! —
trying to sound-out,
or guess the reasons,
I sleep like a soldier, without rest.
But there is no treason,
where there is only lawlessness. Lawlessness.
truly awful
 

rettucs

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Post of the week winner: 22nd March, 2013
For example, I love Bowie and I don't think he's low brow by any means but equally I don't think most of his lyrics stand up on their own.
whereas someone like Nick Cave has some awful songs (most of Dig, Lazarus, Dig, for example), but you'd struggle to find any lyrics that aren't amazing.
 

hugh

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Fair point. My reasoning behind those sort of comparisons is that some lines need a music and melody to lift them from being just meaningless or banal. For example, I love Bowie and I don't think he's low brow by any means but equally I don't think most of his lyrics stand up on their own. Equally, I don't think there's anything to gain by setting all poems to music. Some work, some don't (in both directions). I do feel you're throwing the baby out with the bath water by saying there's no equivalence but hey, that's album club!
I don't think there much to be gained by taking any song lyrics out of their context, presenting them on a page (or a screen) and saying "hey look! that's just like poetry", and then judging them by those kinds of criteria. I've never really got why anyone would want to own a book of Dylan's lyrics or Joni Mitchell's or whatever (and I agree, definitely not Bowie's). It seems pointless. These words are intended to be delivered/sung within the framework of a particular piece of music and they either work or don't work within that context. But that doesn't imply to me that they are some sort of inferior form - they can be just as carefully considered as words in poetry and be striving for some of the same sorts of affects, so it's not unreasonable to talk about them in similar ways or draw parallels.

I do think it's unreasonable though to take music where the lyrics are not striving to do this kind of thing and then slate it on that basis. I was just trying to imagine what it would be like if you took Ramones lyrics and got Joanna Newsom to sing them to her music (or vice versa).
 

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