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Do lyrics need to be accesible?


xraylemur

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So several of my friends, both those that I trust their musical input and those I do not, say that they don't have a clue what any of my lyrics mean and for some of them it kinda bothers them. And of course that bothers me.

 

So the question is, should that matter? It's indie music, which is known for strange lyrics. The lyrics all mean a heck of a lot to me, and when i write most of them i set them up so other people should be able to get something out of them. It's not pure abstract writing or anything. Yet it still bothers me that people don't get anything out of them. Maybe my friends are just stupid?

 

For example, here are a couple of them.

 

 

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Well I don't want to be huge. Most signed indie bands just get by but the fans they do have love them. But i don't make my songs accessible (in the sense that they'd be simple and straightforward) because I can't bring my self to purposefully write something I wouldn't appreciate myself.

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Well I don't care if people are getting my music. I definitely don't expect them to get it all figured out. Problem is that they don't seem to be drawing anything from it at all.

 

Direct criticism of the provided examples is completely okay as well btw.

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I wanted to craft an answer before I looked at your lyrics, because I figure the real question doesn't have anything to do with any specific lyrics.

 

As far as I'm concerned the key is, "The lyrics all mean a heck of a lot to me."

 

As artists, we create for a number of reasons. And, likely, most of us take pleasure or value from a number of facets of the experience. It's nice to create art that others like and understand -- but I think there is a fundamental value in pure self-expression. Van Gogh may have had a deeply troubled life -- but imagine what he would have been without his art. Of course, I picked Van Gogh because he only sold one painting in his entire life, yet he's now one of the most beloved of the world's painters.

 

I'm not saying that we'll all be famous after we're dead or that that's even something we should concern ourselves with -- but rather I'm suggesting that whether one's art is 'appreciated' by either masses or elites is arbitrary and shouldn't be a concern of an artist. Of course, if one is also a businessman, that is another matter. But down that road, these days, lies madness. :D

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Well here is the DEFINITIVE DUKE TAKE on this:

 

Music - rock, indie, pop - the underlying theme is SEX. If the lyrics aren't outright above sex, love, use and abuse and all that, then goddamn it, the music is rhymthic and sexy.

 

Take a look at these lyrics. that you wrote:

 

 

I see steamed broccoli in a large copper bowl.

It reminds me of your mind that you used to hold.

But it all broke free and the vegetables did fly

Every one

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Well then I feel better I suppose. Dukeofboom the veggies are the sex and a half! I don't know what you're talking about. But yeah I guess I'll just try and ignore it. Find some nice modern poetry buff friends to play my music to maybe.

 

If anybody has any other opinions on the writings above i'd be interested in hearing them for kicks. You can't hurt me feelings or anything. Actually if you guys wanna hear some of em I'll unabashedly advertise my album some more. http://spryoldmen.bandcamp.com/

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I like this. But it seems you might be stopping just a little shy of making a connection. I mean, there is sense in the verses below. Why not go the extra few inches and let the audience in on what you are saying. Your imagery is worth it. It's good. But you do seem to have a clear desire to not make the connection. The 2nd verse here. What is the arrow? Destruction?

 

In the 3rd, you mock the believers, but I'm unclear as to what your tribe represents. Other than old clothes. Like I say, it's cool, maybe the mystery is a way to not have to spell out stuff you're not sure of yourself. That's OK, but you might give a little more to bring a sense of validity to what you're saying.

 

You can give us that. So... as cool as this stuff is, I think it might a be cooler still to spell a few things out.

 

 

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There we go that's some criticism I can take. But how do I do that? I can't just come write out and say in the lyrics very easily that I'm actually a Christian and this song is about the detestable evil that is comfortable Christianity. It drives beautiful people to become passionless pricks and I see it all the time. They become concerned with looking good and instead of living in the world but not of it as the bible encourages they hole up with each other and try to see as little of reality as possible. Their solution to moral living is like putting a band aid onto critical wounds rather than going to the hospital.

 

The arrow is further speaking of mother abaddon by the way. Abaddon meaning either "the destroyer" or the depths of hell depending on the interpretation.

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There we go that's some criticism I can take. But how do I do that? I can't just come write out and say in the lyrics very easily that I'm actually a Christian and this song is about the detestable evil that is comfortable Christianity. It drives beautiful people to become passionless pricks and I see it all the time. They become concerned with looking good and instead of living in the world but not of it as the bible encourages they hole up with each other and try to see as little of reality as possible. Their solution to moral living is like putting a band aid onto critical wounds rather than going to the hospital.


The arrow is further speaking of mother abaddon by the way. Abaddon meaning either "the destroyer" or the depths of hell depending on the interpretation.

 

 

Incomprehensibility may be preferable after all.....

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In general, people want to listen to things they understand. That's why there are no huge groups in the US that only sing in Estonian. The real question is, why not make your songs accessible?

I think I'd suggest they want to listen to things that catch their fancy one way or another. It could be a melody, a production hook of some kind (anything from a riff, to sonic texture, to a sound effect), a fragment of lyric, a story, even a nonsense phrase. I think it's pretty hard to pin down what capture's the audience's fancy.

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Incomprehensibility may be preferable after all.....

 

 

Yeah I know what you mean. Simplifying songs meaning to something that short and concise ruins it, especially when it deals with stuff like that. "She Looks Purple" was about a dream involving a girl I was somewhere very close to being in love with, where me wanting to sleep with her ultimately ended up killing her and what I drew from that. And the "Preparing Chinese for Takeout" was about a friend who went megalomaniac......

 

Yep, see I hate seeing them described like that. This is good though. All of this is helping me identify what it is I value in my writing.

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I think if by accessible you mean simple and with an obvious meaning that anyone can understand with no effort whatsoever then my answer is definitely no, they don't need to be accessible. That's not to say that there isn't a place for that - actually that can be a very good thing - but there's also (IMO) a big place for lyrics that don't fit that category.

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Lyrics don't need to be anything. I have no earthly idea what your lyrics are talking about, but if it sounds good sung with music then I'm all for it.

 

With that said, I personally like writing lyrics that are fairly understandable to people in general. Surrounding lyrics in obscurity and obliqueness will not so much spark a quest to find meaning in the lyrics, but rather make most people quit caring and tune them out. which is fine if that's what you're going for.

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Surrounding lyrics in obscurity and obliqueness will not so much spark a quest to find meaning in the lyrics, but rather make most people quit caring and tune them out. which is fine if that's what you're going for.

 

^^^^^^^this makes good sense to me ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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The words just need to intertwined with the melody well.

 

 

The words go with the melodies pretty well I think. Plus I pick the words for their sound as well as their meaning, so it should all work together pretty fluidly (unless I'm bringing in dissonance on purpose, which I do a bit more than some haha). Problem in general is that people who don't care about lyrics and just like the music generally like more popular radio type music. Everybody who does care a bit about lyrics seem to listen to my general area of music (indie, folk, and the combinations with other genres thereof), so it's a concern to me if my lyrics become a turn off to them, but I guess I just gotta stick to my guns and not really worry about it.

 

I'd be content with just writing music for myself, but with the amount of time I put into it it seems like it's a bit excessive time wise if some people aren't going to enjoy it with me. That's all i'm really trying to accomplish.

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