Lines to remember

Those who follow this blog know I love good song lyrics. Here are few, leaving off the ones I tend to quote the most. Please add your favorites at the end, as any list like this will be found lacking.

You’ve been telling me you’re a genius since you were seventeen. In all this time I’ve known you, I still don’t know what you mean.” Steely Dan in “Reelin’ in the Years.”

“I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” Bob Seger in “Against the Wind.”

“Stayed in bed all mornin’ just to pass the time. There’s something wrong here there can be no denyin’. One of us is changin’ or maybe we’ve just stopped tryin’.” Carole King in “It’s too Late.”

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Rush in “Free Will.”

“I wish for just one time, you could stand in side my shoes. Then you would know what a drag it is to see you.” Bob Dylan in “Positively 4th Street” better known as “You’ve got a lotta nerve.”

“You got a fast car. I want a ticket to anywhere. Maybe we make a deal. Maybe together we can get somewhere. Any place is better.” Tracy Chapman in “Fast Car.”

“Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes. And found my cleanest dirty shirt.” Kris Kristofferson in “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

“Just when I think. I’ve taken more than would a fool. I start fallin’ back in love with you. Alicia Keys in “Fallin'”

“Then I got Mary pregnant and man, that was all she wrote. And, for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat. We went down to the courthouse, and the judge put it all to rest. No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle, no flowers, no wedding dress.” Bruce Springsteen in “The River.”

“And every time you speak her name. Does she know how you told me. You’d hold me until you died?” Alanis Morisette in “You Ought to Know.”

“Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothin’ to kill or die for. And no religion, too. Imagine all the people livin’ life in peace.” John Lennon in “Imagine.”

“Operator, well could you help me place this call? See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded. She’s living in L. A. with my best old ex-friend Ray. A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated.” Jim Croce in “Operator.”

“Daddy loved and raised eight kids on a miner’s pay. Mommy scrubbed our clothes on a washboard every day. Why, I’ve seen her fingers bleed. To complain there was no need. She’d smile in Mommy’s understanding way.” Loretta Lynn in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

“Maybe I’m just too demanding. Maybe I’m just like my father too bold. Maybe you’re just like my mother. She’s never satisfied (She’s never satisfied). Why do we scream at each other. This is what it sounds like. When doves cry” Prince in “When Doves Cry.”

“Do you want to see me crawl across the floor to you?. Do you want to hear me beg you to take me back?. I’d gladly do it because. I don’t want to fade away. Give me one more day, please. I don’t want to fade away. In your heart I want to stay.” Eric Clapton in “Bell Bottom Blues.”

Love. Loss. Pleading. Contempt. Reality. Reflection. Aspiration. There are lots of emotions wrapped up in these songs. I added the last one is it is not as well known, but to hear Clapton’s guitar and plaintive voice accent this song is worth listening to.

23 thoughts on “Lines to remember

  1. Wow! A lot to love here. Some I haven’t heard of, but you likely already know that my favourite of the batch is Lennon’s “Imagine”. Thanks for some good ideas, Keith!

  2. All such great lines, Keith. I love the one of “Free Will” a lot. Here is one of my favorite lines of a song: “And the soul, afraid of dying that never learns to live.” from The Rose. Actually, it is the whole paragraph but that last line of it has always felt so very profound to me. The German translation of the song has put the line this way: “He who is afraid of dying all his life never begins to live.”
    Here is the whole paragraph:
    It’s the heart, afraid of breaking
    That never learns to dance
    It’s the dream, afraid of waking
    That never takes the chance
    It’s the one who won’t be taken
    Who cannot seem to give
    And the soul, afraid of dying
    That never learns to live.

    • Kim, I almost put a Fleetwood Mac one on the list. I kept thinking I need a Fleetwood Mac song, but I got torn between a Christie McVie and Steve Nicks song. Thanks for adding this one. The band was so good. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: I felt like I needed to add a Billy Joel song. I love this line from “She;s always a woman to me.”

    “But she’ll bring out the best
    And the worst you can be
    Blame it all on yourself
    Cause she’s always a woman to me.”

    I have written a whole post on Cat Stevens’ “I’m look for a hard-headed woman,” but the gist is similar. Both want a strong woman who will bring out the best in them. But, you need to also be a strong man (or woman as the case may be)..

  4. Note to Readers: I have written before about Harry Chapin and “A Better to Place to Be.” Here is the next to last stanza where the rotund waitress is so moved by the night watchman’s story, she makes the following plea.

    “The waitress took her bar rag, and she wiped it across her eyes.
    And as she spoke her voice came out as something like a sigh.
    She said ‘I wish that I was beautiful, or that you were halfway blind.
    And I wish I weren’t so god-damned fat, I wish that you were mine.
    And I wish that you’d come with me, when I leave for home.
    For we both know all about loneliness, and livin’ all alone.'”

  5. Note to Readers: Our friend Mickey reminded me of this song today – “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum. It’s first stanza is about unusual as it gets.

    “We skipped the light Fandango
    Turned cartwheels cross the floor
    I was feeling kind of seasick
    But the crowd called out for more
    The room was humming harder
    As the ceiling flew away
    When we called out for another drink
    The waiter brought a tray”

  6. My favorite Dylan lyric (crowded behind by about 17,000 others in close order) is from “Like a Rolling Stone”

    “You said you’d never compromise
    With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
    He’s not selling any alibis
    As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
    And say do you want to make a deal?”

    Also, imo the single best cover of that song is by Seal and Jeff Beck, from the Amnesty International collection of Dylan songs “Chimes of Freedom” , but the entire album (all 76 tracks!!!) is golden

    • Bruce, great lyric. As you note, there are many, many to choose from. Just thinking of “Tangled up in Blue,” there are half dozen in that song alone. I guess he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for a reason. By the way, his writing is so good, covering his songs will produce a great song. Think Jimi Hendrix an “All Along the Watchtower.” Keith

  7. When they finally picked him
    Up off of the street,
    There was nothin’ left but the tips of his fingers,
    And the soles of his feet.

    Ghost Stories from Lonesome County
    Marques Bovre and the Evil Twins

  8. I always got/get #10 mixed with a very similar song of a different twist ending: “Long distance, information: get me Memphis, Tennessee. / Help me find a party [that] tried to get in touch with me.”

    • FC, Johnny RIvers sang this one. Likely, he was not the first, as he was the white singer used most often to cover Motown songs. Good song, though. Keith

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