Sunday 13 July 2008

Bad Rhyme Time

As it's Sunday, here's something to enjoy (ignore the 'comments' etc). After so many true horrors in this list, it's disappointing that they fall back on 'His Bobness' to fill the Number One spot. Dylan was never guilty of a bad rhyme - they just look that way on paper - when he sings them, often spitting out the rhyme words with heavy emphasis, they work perfectly, seeming clever and playful, or vicious and barbed. To treat Dylan as a poet is absurd (pace Christopher Ricks) - he's a lyricist, and a very great one, but his words are only effective in conjunction with his music. Laid out on the mortuary slab of the printed page and subjected to critical analysis as poetry, they can only fail. This, I reckon, is a shorter and better list of truly bad, i.e. desperate and bathetic, rhymes. And here's a dash of rhyming genius from the world's most addictive album, Sumday by Grandaddy:
She's in the kitchen cryin' by the oven,
It seems she really loved him,
And he's so drunk he's passed out in a Datsun,
That's parked out in the hot sun
In the saddest parking lot in all the world...


  1. I think those lyrics will have to be changed now that Datsuns are Nissans. Maybe:

    "She's in the kitchen cryin' with the gas on,
    It seems she really loved him,
    And he's so drunk he's passed out in a Nissan...."

    and so on.

  2. My favorite lyrics at the moment, however, are the ones that go with Billy Bragg's "Greetings to the New Brunette" (which I mentioned here before). You have got to listen to this tune, Nige, it's brilliant. Here's a snippet:

    your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle
    we are joined in the ideological cuddle

    I'm celebrating my love for you
    With a pint of beer and a new tattoo
    And if you haven't noticed yet
    I'm more impressionable when my cement is wet

    Got to hear it, Nige, vraiment.

  3. Thanks Nige. You've got me spending my Sunday researching this 'Grandaddy'. Wiki says they're like Philip Glass and Neil Young... I'm eager to find out more.

    As for Dylan's lyrics: I was only thinking the other day that they read better than they sound. On the early albums, some of the rhymes sound like he's really stretching for them. Of course, I've yet to find anybody who agrees with me.

  4. Look at any opera libretto and you think "what?", add the music, horse of a different colour. The list should have included every one of Stings bumbles, and Abbas.
    Susan, we can assume that your a Bragg convert?, may I introduce you to Flogging Mollies Black Friday Rule?
    Dylan was the greatest, should stop now though.

  5. Dangerous waters Dick, but make straight for Sumday (available good and cheap on Amazon marketplace/eBay), play it many times, you will never be free of it, probably for the rest of your life. So it really depends how you want to spend the rest of your life... It seems to be the Grandaddy album the fans like least, but that's probably a recommendation.

  6. A good lyric can't be detached from the music, or only with great damage. That old 'is Dylan better than Keats' jive is old hat, their forms overlap to some extent but are really different art forms, albeit similar. Some of my most treasured lines from songs sound crap when written down, separated from the Dylanesque sneer.

  7. As that bloke off the telly mentioned Philip Glass I will give you a taster to lullaby yourselves to sleep with.
    Thebes : year of reign 1
    Verse 1
    Clouds darken the sky
    The stars rain down
    The constellations stagger
    The bones of the hell hounds tremble
    The porters are silent
    When they see this king
    Dawning as a soul

    Verse 2
    Men fall
    Their name is not
    Seize thou this king by his arm
    Take this king to the sky
    That he not die on earth
    Among men

    The Stuttgart State Opera Version was an amazing operatic spectacle, scenery and costumes spectacular. The music was mesmerizing

    The libretto was shit.
    Night everybody.