Poetry in Lyrics: a pair from DMB

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Boyd Tinsley, Dave Matthews, Carter Beauford, Stephen Lesard, LeRoi Moore–Tim Reynolds, lead guitar

There are three types of people when it comes to listening to songs. Type one hears the voice, the instruments, the melody, and refrain. Type two knows all the lyrics and their favorite songs are so because of the songwriter. Type three are the talented ones who don’t need the karaoke machine and they know every note.  Which one are you?

I’m a type one. For years I’ve liked songs based on the music with little regard to the lyrics. Play your instrument and even if the lyrics are banal, I will follow you. I’ve tried to change that. Lyrics are poetry and my appreciation for a group or duo or solo artist grows once I get around to thinking about the lyrics. Take Dave Matthews Band, for instance.

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I’ve listened to Dave for twenty years but hardly know the words. I’m discovering what a great lyricist he is. His love songs are exquisite, but he’s also a philosopher. Here’s an example of one of my favorites.  Unless you are type three, why not play the song and check out the lyrics?

Busted Stuff (2002)

“You Never Know”

Sitting still as stone watching – watching
People walking by you wondering why
No one ever stops to talk or thinks about it – if they ever did
What if God shuffled by?

One day we might see
Doing not a thing
Breathing just to breathe
We might find some reason

But rushing around seems what’s wrong with the world
Don’t lose the dreams inside your head
They’ll only be there til you’re dead
Dream

Lying on the roof counting
The stars that fill the sky I wonder if Someone in the heavens looking back down on me – I’ll never know
So much space to believe

Funny when you’re small
The moon follows the car
There’s no one but you see
Hey, the moon is chasing me

I worried if I looked away she’d be gone
Don’t lose the dreams inside your head
They’ll only be there til you’re dead
Dream

Walking through the wood
No cares in the world
The world has come to play
She’s all mine just for a day

There’s not a moment to lose in the game
Don’t let the troubles in your head
Steal too much time you’ll soon be dead
So play

All fall down
It won’t be so long now
Out of the darkness comes light like a flash
You think you can you think you can
Sometimes that is the problem
Dream little darling dream

Spinning on the wind
The leaf fell from the limb

But everyday should be a good day to die
Oh all fall down
It won’t be too long now
Every fire dies
I find it hard to explain how I got here
I think I can I think I can
Then again I will falter
Dream little darling dream

Spinning on the wind
The leaf fell from the limb

Yes, everyday should be a good day to die! It means your living actively, dreaming, and not letting your worries get the best of you. What a waste of energy worrying but so hard not to do….

Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (2009)

“Funny The Way It Is”

Lying in the park on a beautiful day
Sunshine in the grass and the children play
Sirens passing, fire engine red
Someone’s house is burning down on a day like this
And evening comes, and we’re hanging out
On the front step and a car goes by with the windows rolled down
And that war song is playing, “Why can’t we be friends”
Someone is screaming crying in the apartment upstairs

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
Somebody’s going hungry, someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody’s heart is broken, it becomes your favorite song

The way your mouth feels in your lover’s kiss
Like a pretty bird on a breeze, or water to a fish
The bomb blast brings the building crashing to the floor
Hear the laughter while the children play war

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
One kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
On a soldier’s last breath, his baby’s being born

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing underneath
It must have been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small, compared to how it used to be
With mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars

Watch the sky, the jet plane so far out of my reach
Is there someone up there looking down on me
Boy chase a bird, so close but every time
He’ll never catch her, but he can’t stop trying

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
One kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
On a soldier’s last breath, his baby’s being born
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody’s broken heart become your favorite song
Funny the way it is, if you think about it
One kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing underneath
It must have been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small, compared to how it used to be
With mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars….

The irony of life never ceases to amaze me. First world problems and third world problems, and we share the same Earth. This song brings it all into the spotlight.

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Real musicians playing real music.  I ♥ DMB. I’m embarassed to admit I’ve never seen them in concert.