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How Important are lyrics to you in Prog music

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SteveG View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: How Important are lyrics to you in Prog music
    Posted: July 23 2014 at 09:10





Song lyrics tell the story, or at  least try to. How important are lyrics to you in prog music and more importantly, how do you feel about the lyrical abilites of your favorite still active prog artists such as Steven Wilson, Dream Theater, Marillion, Panic Room, Gazpacho, Opeth, Tool, Yes and all?








Edited by SteveG - August 04 2014 at 13:34
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Mind_Drive View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mind_Drive Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 09:45
for me lyrics are the least important thing in any music - therefore i can´t stand singer-songwriter only focussing on "cool lyrics" with their music being uber boring

i never pay attention to lyrics so i don´t understand them although i think my understanding from hearing english spoken words is not too bad.. i just somehow blank out the meaning of the words.

some lyrics of course reach me but most of the time im disappointed because the words just dont do justice to the music
it feels like comparing an ocean with its endlessly floating unique waves to a little ship thats.. just a ship.. trying to give meaning to the ocean. through this lousy analogy you maybe can tell, that words just dont do it for me LOL

i am glad that i dont pay attention to most english lyrics because they often tend to disenchant the songs for me..
the voice of the singers is a very nice instrument playing in very different styles and adding nice atmospheres

but i guess im in a minority with this approach
If god is a DJ,
Life is the Dancefloor,
Love is the Rhythm
and you are the MUSIC!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Xonty Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 10:02
On the whole, lyrics are more difficult than music. There's only 12 notes but over a million words, and finding the right combination and something that's very emotional or intriguing is much harder IMO. Therefore, I can appreciate them more (being a wannabe progressive songwriter myself) which means I like them just as much, if not more than the music in some cases. I never really understood Marillion on the first few listens, and found them dull because the lyrics are very intricate on something like "Script For A Jester's Tear", and much less accessible than other acts. Over time though, I got more into it as I interpreted the lyrics and got to know them. Steven Wilson has some pretty great lyrical moments, but not a fan on the whole. Tool, Opeth, and other heavier bands don't really do much for me either, but Dream Theater's "Scenes From A Memory" is brilliantly narrated. Obviously those lyrics are essential to telling the concept and are just as important as the music
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Post Options Post Options   Quote MothTwiceborn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 10:29
As a lyricist, if I've learned one thing, it's that people don't listen to the bleedin' words :-)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Nogbad_The_Bad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 12:48
Zero importance, I tend to listen to instrumental & lyrics in languages I don't understand. Of the many bands I like with English lyrics the lyrics are the most important thing in very very few, if any.

Edited by Nogbad_The_Bad - July 23 2014 at 12:50
Ian

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Post Options Post Options   Quote zravkapt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 12:53
Originally posted by Mind_Drive

for me lyrics are the least important thing in any music 

This. To me vocals are just another imstrument; how the words are sung are more important to me than what is being said.
"We don't know a millionth of one percent about anything" - Thomas Edison
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 13:29
From my point of view, lyrics have to at least set the tone for some kind of narrative, theme or feeling for the music. Recently I've been listening to extreme prog metalers Cynic's album Kindly Bent To Free US. Singer/guitarist Paul Masvidal's lyrics reflect his eastern spiritual beliefs such as the defeating of one's own ego in order to obtain spiritual enlightenment. However, Masvidal, I believe, wrote lyrics to this effect in a menacing sounding song from the album titled Holy Fallout, which to me sounds like a tech metal 'Armageddon'. I'm not interested in the real meaning behind the lyrics as they work well with the menacing music and his serious delivery. So sometimes it's not what you say in music that counts but how you say it.

Edited by SteveG - July 23 2014 at 14:01
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Post Options Post Options   Quote addictedtoprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 13:35
To me lyrics are quite important...but then sometimes (all of extreme metal except Opeth)i just don't feel any need to pay attention to the lyrics..
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Steven Wilson, Fish, Michael Stipe, Mikael Akerfeldt, Daniel Gildenlöw, Thom Yorke etc are some of my favourite lyricists..
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Toaster Mantis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 13:47
Depends on the artist in question and their signature style. With some groups like Hawkwind and Jethro Tull, the lyrics are a main part of a unified aesthetic concept behind their music along with the visual aesthetics. In the case of people like Zappa and Beefheart, the entire music seems to take place entirely inside the songwriter's own mental universe and the idiosyncratic if often goofy lyrics are part of that.

Then there's other groups where the lyrics work more as "scene-setting" than anything else, where I don't pay that much attention because more of the themes are being communicated through the instrumental parts. Much of Yes' output falls into this category I'll say, and to some extent King Crimson too.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote The Doctor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 13:47
Lyrics are very important to me, at least those albums/artists who have lyrics and the lyrics are in a language I can understand (love instrumental music, Zeuhl and RPI, so in those cases, if there are vocals I just listen to them as if they were another instrument).

Otherwise, I think good lyrics can greatly enhance good music and bad lyrics can certainly distract from and diminish the effects of good music. Some of my favorite prog lyricists are Peter Hammill, Neil Peart, Roger Waters and Fish. Of the newer lyricists, I liked Neal Morse before he went all "Jesus Loves You", Roine Stolt has some good stuff, Phideaux is one of my favorites and I find Andy Tillison's lyrics to be quite good, mostly.

As for Yes, some of the lyrics are quite good, but some of the lyrics, even though the words are in English they fall in the category of lyrics in a language I don't understand, and so I consider those vocals to be another instrument (I think often this was Jon's intent - "A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace and rearrange your liver..." and so forth). I should mention too that I like h's lyrics for Marillion as they are quite good, but not quite as poetic as his predecessor's.

Edited by The Doctor - July 23 2014 at 13:51
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 13:56
^'before he went all Jesus loves you'   Your posts are always insightful with a kick, Doc!

Edited by SteveG - July 23 2014 at 13:59
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Post Options Post Options   Quote addictedtoprog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 14:01
Originally posted by The Doctor

Lyrics are very important to me, at least those albums/artists who have lyrics and the lyrics are in a language I can understand (love instrumental music, Zeuhl and RPI, so in those cases, if there are vocals I just listen to them as if they were another instrument).

Otherwise, I think good lyrics can greatly enhance good music and bad lyrics can certainly distract from and diminish the effects of good music. Some of my favorite prog lyricists are Peter Hammill, Neil Peart, Roger Waters and Fish. Of the newer lyricists, I liked Neal Morse before he went all "Jesus Loves You", Roine Stolt has some good stuff, Phideaux is one of my favorites and I find Andy Tillison's lyrics to be quite good, mostly.

As for Yes, some of the lyrics are quite good, but some of the lyrics, even though the words are in English they fall in the category of lyrics in a language I don't understand, and so I consider those vocals to be another instrument (I think often this was Jon's intent - "A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace and rearrange your liver..." and so forth). I should mention too that I like h's lyrics for Marillion as they are quite good, but not quite as poetic as his predecessor's.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Toaster Mantis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 14:03
I gotta admit that with Yes the lyrics are something to get used to. At first they read like the aftermath of an explosion in a New Age bookstore, and it might be a reason I don't listen to them that often.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 14:05
Originally posted by Toaster Mantis

I gotta admit that with Yes the lyrics are something to get used to. At first they read like the aftermath of an explosion in a New Age bookstore, and it might be a reason I don't listen to them that often.
I don't listen to Yes lyrics. Period. Just vocals as an instrument. (I'm silly like that )
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Kirillov Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 14:16
Low priority for me. I enjoy listening to PFM in Italian but can't understand a word. The words sound nice though.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 14:33
They're just a vehicle for a lovely voice

You could say it depends upon the artist, 
But then again it probably doesn't,
While we heap praise on those vocalist,
Trying to decide who is the smartest
Of those who can turn a pen 
To a half decent lyric and then,
Here is the twist,
We'd probably like them just as much,
If they sang alternate pages 
Of Stockholm phone book 
Backwards... 
....in Swahili...
....or double-D-Dutch. 
[did he just sing double de-clutch?]

Never mind the content, feel the delivery,
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo),
Never mind I'm content to feel your misery,
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo oh),
As you try to decipher this lyrical wizardry,
So how long is a piece of string?
Stringy-stringy-str - ing ing ing,
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo),
Stringy-stringy-str - ing string.

While most Prog lyrics aren't quite as bad
As we kid ourselves they are,
When we listen to them while driving a car, 
They're not exactly art liter-at-char, 
[But then what Rock, Pop or Folk lyrics ever are?]
They're just a sound to carry a tune,
To give the voice something to sing or croon,
As the singer dances around the room,
Are they supposed to mean that much?
Having a well written lyric is merely 
The icing upon the cake...

The icing on the ca-a-e-a-e-a-e-ake ka-ka
Cakey-cakey-ca-key ca-a-ake.
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo),
And if it deems to make 
Some form of sense, 
If that doesn't seem dense,
Then that's the cherry on top of the cake
With maybe some sprinkles of course 
And a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
If you're that way inclined.
'cos
That's icing on the ca-a-ake ka-ka-ka
Cakey-cakey-ca-key ca-a-ake.
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo),


But I cannot imagine 
That many of us here,
Would rush out an buy 
A book of poetry and verse 
Written by any Prog lyricist 
For better or worst,
Even if we may be tempted 
By their autobiography,
Or book on ancient mythology, 
Or maybe even a novel or two
If they had written one
Hang on that can't be right...
...A novel or two if they'd written a few
Staying up all night, 
Analysing the words for sense within it,
Are they supposed to mean anything under the moon?
Looking for meaning where none had been writ,
We paid the piper but he called the tune
And it all sounds like a big heap of ...

Icing on the ca-a-e-a-e-a-e-ake ka-ka
Cakey-cakey-ca-key ca-a-ake.
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo),
Prog lyrics aren't quite as bad
As we kid ourselves they a-a-a-are 
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo),

So maybe it's all made up 
As we sing along,
With no planning or forethought
Contained in this song
A stream of non-sense-ness,
Improvising lyrics with no idea where they'll run trying to fit words to the solo bass drum and the bass player who's too stoned just to strum for being drowned out by the over-loud keyboardist who is the sound mixer's chum while the vocalist forgets to breath in the right place I confess, 
This has all turned into a bit of a mess
So while I try to work
Out where this went all wrong...
... I think it's time for a middle-eight or maybe six 
so I can take a breather and try to redress 
the phrasing of this song
there's a garble of words I need to fix
Oh bugger I've lost the rhythm.

While most Prog lyrics aren't quite as bad
As we kid ourselves they are,
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo),
Some are really bad
But only if we can hear them above the din,
Of the guitarist with his mesa boogie plugged in,
Then that's bonus we can all revel in,
Guessing words only to relieve the tension,
Passing winds that wind far away into the *mumbles*
As we pan from left to right, we mishear the tonal mess refrain.

...or was that just a passing train,
Or a cat that's left out in the rain,
Oh go on let it in...
I suppose we really can't complain
At least it's not a condescending lyric by Sting

Stingy-stingy-st - ing ing ing,
(Oooo-whu-oooo, ooo-whe-ooo),
Stingy-stingy-st - ing Sting.





(with apologies to Paul Draper and Jon Anderson, but not Sting)


Edited by Dean - July 23 2014 at 14:43


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Post Options Post Options   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 14:42
^Sheeessh, Dean. Mansun wasn't prog!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote CosmicVibration Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 14:56
Originally posted by SteveG

Originally posted by Toaster Mantis

I gotta admit that with Yes the lyrics are something to get used to. At first they read like the aftermath of an explosion in a New Age bookstore, and it might be a reason I don't listen to them that often.
I don't listen to Yes lyrics. Period. Just vocals as an instrument. (I'm silly like that )


 

I do the same thing with Magma…  with good reason.

I fully enjoy Yes lyrics, they definitely resonate with me.  I just wonder how much of writings that I think I understand is the actual idea portrayed.  After many listen’s I still get a sense of wonderment.

There’s just so many times you can muse over fairy tale lyrics.  Aka Genesis…


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Post Options Post Options   Quote rushfan4 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 15:10
Good lyrics make an album/song better.  Bad lyrics make an album/song worse. 

When listening casually, which sadly seems most of the time, than it is more the sonic of the vocals than anything else when it comes to the listening experience.  When listening intently, the lyrics mean more to me, and if they are good it enhances the listening experience and if they are bad they can kill the listening experience.  On the rare occasion that I review an album, I will generally sit down with the lyric book open and give the album an intense listen while reading along.  I do find there to be many nonsense lyrics out there, and they do have a negative effect on me, but if the lyrics are really good and have a good meaning than they can definitely upgrade an album's rating for me.

I'm not really a big fan of Peter Sinfield's lyrics with King Crimson, as I find them to be mostly nonsense; which may be one reason I don't hold them in as high of esteem as many of my PA prog colleagues.  Frank Zappa's lyrics are mostly a turn-off for me, which makes it hard for me to listen to him.  And Genesis' lyrics are distinctly British, and therefore make no sense to me.  And I am sorry, but a concept album that includes severed penises and whatnot, really loses something for me. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2014 at 15:13
^And who said prog lyrics are silly?
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