RSS

Category Archives: 80s Alternative

The Smiths, The Cure, Talking Heads… 80’s poets


In the 80s, my head was jammed into the alternative music scene, a place where many of the musicians inhaled and exhaled poetic melancholy. Some of the songs and lyrics that I remember:

The poetic metaphor of “I can feel the soil falling over my head…” from the song “I know it’s over” by The Smiths etched into my memory after the first time I heard it.

The haunting lyrics and melody of “Three Imaginary Boys” by The Cure can still give me shivers.

Talking Heads “Once in a lifetime” is a timeless pondering on the nature of time and it’s passage…

It was the poetic edge of the lyrics, the deep explorations of the human condition, in 80s alternative music which saved me from getting lost in the banality of top-40 music-as-commodity. The 80s alternative music scene resonated with my love for words and provided a music foundation that I will always cherish and I dedicate this song to that gift:

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 1, 2011 in 80s Alternative, art, poetry, punk, sound

 

It’s just the wasted years so close behind…


The melancholy in Lou Reed’s Sunday Morning is accentuated by the melody and the mellow sounds of the instruments, which include ringing of bells.

Reed’s lyrical style was informed by the French poet Charles Baudelaire, the Beat Generation writers, and many other poets. As I see it, this poem is transformed into a song simply by the repetition of a few lines, the tone of voice, and the inclusion of a few musical sounds. The lyrics retain the emotional textures that the poem lays out for examination.

Sunday morning, praise the dawning
It’s just a restless feeling by my side
Early dawning, Sunday morning
It’s just the wasted years so close behind
Watch out, the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all
Sunday morning and I’m falling
I’ve got a feeling I don’t want to know
Early dawning, Sunday morning
It’s all the streets you crossed, not so long ago
Watch out, the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all
Watch out, the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call
It’s nothing at all
Sunday morning
Sunday morning
Sunday morning

When I first came across Reed’s band Velvet Underground, in the 80s, I thought of them as an art-punk sound. I’ve heard various classifications since then, ranging from rock to punk to avant-garde (the band’s manager was Andy Warhol). Regardless of how he might be categorized, one thing is certain. Lou Reed’s songs are an artful combination of poetry and experimental sound that influenced many future generation of poets. “The nature of [Reed’s] lyric writing had been hitherto unknown in rock…he supplied us with the street and the landscape, and we peopled it,” David Bowie.

 

Tom’s Diner


In the 80s Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner was a popular song. Except that it was more of a poem than a song. The only instrument she uses is her voice and she doesn’t exactly “sing” but narrates a story via the poem. She doesn’t “read” the poem either. Her voice blurs the line between singing and reciting.

So, unknowingly, millions of people heard and appreciated a poem while they thought they were listening to a song.

The world is overflowing with song and music. Yet, poetry remains a mystery to many and has not entered the popular conscience in the United States.

Since April is national poetry month, I am exploring the boundaries between poetry and music.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 8, 2011 in 80s Alternative, poetry, song

 

Lie to me


The hypnotic beat compels me to move my body… I’m listening to the music on the commuter train through my iPhone headset so I’m not free to dance right now.  But I feel my body relax and a smile spreads across my face. These lyrics from my youth remind me of the explorations of romance which were often filled with missteps and yes, perhaps even lies… Depeche Mode’s lyrics resonated with the uncertainties fueled by the restlessness of our youth… their beat encouraged us to enjoy our youthful vibrancy…

Come on and lay with me
Come on and lie to me
Tell me you love me
Say I’m the only one…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 18, 2011 in 80s Alternative, dance, lyrics, poetry, song