As Stephen Macaulay’s article below (“Beginnings and Leavings,” 7/21) makes clear, we all have a personal relationship with rock and roll lyrics. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elitist music snob, Nicolas Cage, or the mayor of Santiago, Chile – words and music have the power to make you think and feel.
It’s no different around the Glorious Noise office compound, as Stephen’s article attests to. We’ve compiled just a few of the rock and roll phrases that make our world go around in a new feature article. Glorious Noise encourages you to read it, and then submit your own contribution to the words that made rock great.
Writing to Reach You
The first Glorious Noise memorable lyrics compendium.
Rock and roll can change your life. Angus Young + power chord = heaven. These are hard truths, as much fact as therealization that Diamond Dave has transformed himself into a bald methusala with a judo chop complex. But what was Angus’guitar work in “Shook Me All Night Long” without the lyrics around it? “Taking more than her share/she had me fighting forair/she told me to come, but I was already there.” It’s the shit-eating grin through which these lines are spoken thatfuels the machismo in Angus’ guitar. It’s lyrics like these that change our lives every day. It’s lyrics like these thatmake rock and roll what it is.
Song lyrics are traded around the Glorious Noise offices each day. They’re scrawled on trees in the courtyard. They’reused in arguments for defense, and used by the lovelorn as crutches. Rock lyrics are woven into our collective psyche. Whatfollows then isn’t comprehensive. Nor is it fully researched. It’s not even particularly wide-ranging in regards to genre.But it’s from the gut. Just like the best rock and roll lyrics.
Music is my savior / I was maimed by rock and roll / I was maimed by rock and roll / I was tamed by rock and roll / Igot my name from rock and roll.
—Wilco, “Sunken Treasure”
I’ve been through many times in which I thought I might lose it / The only thing that saved me has always been music/ Life ain’t nothing but a good groove / A good mix tape to put you in the right mood.
—Beastie Boys, “Professor Booty”
What’s your name? / Who’s your daddy? / Is he rich like me?
—The Zombies, “Time of the Season”
Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.
—The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
I love myself / better than you / I know it’s wrong so what should I do?
—Nirvana, “On a Plain”
I went away to see an old friend of mine / His sister came over she was out of her mind / She said Jesus had a twinwho knew nothing about sin / She was laughing like crazy at the trouble I’m in.
—Sonic Youth, “Schizophrenia”
There was a band playing in my head and I felt like getting high / I was thinking about what a friend had said / Iwas hoping it was a lie.
—Neil Young, “After the Goldrush”
When my earthly race is over / And I’m ready for the clover / And they ask me how my life has been/ I guess I’ll have to say / I got stoned and I missed it / I got stoned and I missed it / I got stoned and it rolledright by.
—Shel Silverstein, “I Got Stoned And I Missed It”
Wake up late / Honey put on your clothes / And take your credit card to the liquor store / Well that’s one for youand two for me / by tonight I’ll be loaded like a freight train.
—Guns n’ Roses, “Nightrain”
Looking down the barrel of a gun / Son of a gun / Son of a bitch / Getting paid / getting rich.
(This lyric from PAUL’S BOUTIQUE is followed immediately by one of the most memorable samples in history – a snippet ofthe double snare kick and lead guitar intro to Mountain’s 1970 classic “Mississippi Queen.” But samples are a wholedifferent article.)
—Beastie Boys, “Looking Down The Barrel Of a Gun”
You are like a hurricane / There’s calm in your eye / And I’m getting blown away.
—Neil Young, “Like a Hurricane”
Then I got Mary pregnant and man, that was all she wrote. / And for my nineteenth birthday, I got a union card and awedding coat.
—Bruce Springsteen, “The River”
I don’t believe in The Beatles / I just believe in me.
—John Lennon, “God”
Oh I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes / You’d know what a drag it is to see you.
—Bob Dylan, “Positively 4th Street”
My life’s the same / I’m moving in stereo / My life’s the same / except for my shoes.
—The Cars, “Moving In Stereo”
And if the people stare, then the people stare / I really don’t know and I really don’t care.
—The Smiths, “Hand In Glove”
My brother knows where the best bars are / Let’s see how these blues’ll do in the town where the good times stay /Tu le ton temps that’s all we say.
—Lucinda Williams, “Crescent City”
Switching it over to AM / Searching for a truer sound / Can’t recall the call letters / Steel guitar and settle down/ Catching an all-night station somewhere in Louisiana / It sounds like 1963, but for now it sounds like heaven…
—Son Volt, “Windfall”
Well, I hear that Laurel Canyon is full of famous stars / But I hate them worse than lepers / and I’ll kill them intheir cars.
—Neil Young, “Revolution Blues”
Elvis was a hero to most be he never meant shit to me / Straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain /Motherfuck him and John Wayne.
—Public Enemy, “Fight the Power”
Sometimes I can’t wait to come down with cancer / At least then I’ll get to watch tv all day / And on my deathbedI’ll get all the answers / even if all my questions are taken away.
—Handsome Family, “Drunk By Noon”
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. That’s all anyone’s ever really written about since rock music oozed out of the electricmud. The lines compiled here are only a small representation of all those moments – out there, in cars, on drugs, overcontinents, or under lovers – where a song’s lyrics have suddenly seemed so clear and true.
We all have these lines bouncing around in our heads. Glorious Noise encourages you to contribute to our list with thechoice phrases from the rock’s lyric book that you can’t live without.