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Beatles songs that work as poetry
10 January 2014
2.04am
IveJustSeenAFaceo
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What Beatles songs do you believe would work all on their own, with no music, as poems? Just being read, out loud.

Three I can think of are In My Life, Eleanor Rigby, and Yesterday.

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10 January 2014
3.06am
Ron Nasty
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When I was studying GCE (General Certificate of Education) English Literature, in the UK back in 80s, one of the course poems was She's Leaving Home. From the same album, you can't ignore Lucy or, as it was described as The Wasteland of its generation, A Day In The Life.

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10 January 2014
5.11am
HeyTrud
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So many....

To name a few:  For No One;  Here, There & Everywhere;  For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!  Tomorrow Never Knows; I've Just Seen A Face

"....take a sad song & make it Meilleur"....

10 January 2014
8.20am
Funny Paper
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This may be one of those topics whose opposite makes more sense, since there are so many -- i.e., which Beatles songs don't work as poetry...?

She Loves You

Why Don't We Do It In The Road? (though I could see Allen Ginsberg trying that one)

 

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10 January 2014
11.03am
meanmistermustard
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Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

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10 January 2014
1.44pm
IveJustSeenAFaceo
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Funny Paper said
This may be one of those topics whose opposite makes more sense, since there are so many -- i.e., which Beatles songs don't work as poetry...?

She Loves You

Why Don't We Do It In The Road? (though I could see Allen Ginsberg trying that one)

 

Love Me Do, Revolution 9a-hard-days-night-ringo-10

Oh, look, I'm derailing my own thread.

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10 January 2014
1.53pm
meanmistermustard
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IveJustSeenAFaceo said

Funny Paper said
This may be one of those topics whose opposite makes more sense, since there are so many -- i.e., which Beatles songs don't work as poetry...?

She Loves You

Why Don't We Do It In The Road? (though I could see Allen Ginsberg trying that one)

 

Love Me Do, Revolution 9a-hard-days-night-ringo-10

Oh, look, I'm derailing my own thread.

It could be argued that any song could be read as a poem so why not Love Me Do? It might be unutterably crap but then i find 99% of poetry unutterably crap anyway soa-hard-days-night-paul-11

And what thread on poetry would not be complete without Baldrick's from Blackadder Goes Forth? None, so here it is.

 

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10 January 2014
1.55pm
IveJustSeenAFaceo
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And no thread about Beatles songs being talked would be complete without this.

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10 January 2014
2.35pm
fabfouremily
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Across The Universe is the first one that comes to mind. Absolutely beautiful lyrics in that one, among the best John ever wrote for the Beatles.

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10 January 2014
3.35pm
IveJustSeenAFaceo
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fabfouremily said
Across The Universe is the first one that comes to mind. Absolutely beautiful lyrics in that one, among the best John ever wrote for the Beatles.

He thought so, too. He just could never get it to sound the way he wanted in recording.

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10 January 2014
3.42pm
Ahhh Girl
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Too funny that this topic should come up at this moment. We are having a "Celebrate your library" week next week at my library. One of the activities is a poetry wall (one of your favorites or one of your originals). Lyrics are welcome also. I'm thinking I'll contribute She's Leaving Home.

10 January 2014
3.51pm
HeyTrud
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fabfouremily said
Across The Universe is the first one that comes to mind. Absolutely beautiful lyrics in that one, among the best John ever wrote for the Beatles.

 

YES!  Definitely some of the most beautiful words ever written, in my humble opinion.

"....take a sad song & make it Meilleur"....

10 January 2014
4.02pm
Bungalow Bob
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HeyTrud said

fabfouremily said
Across The Universe is the first one that comes to mind. Absolutely beautiful lyrics in that one, among the best John ever wrote for the Beatles.

 

YES!  Definitely some of the most beautiful words ever written, in my humble opinion.

It is a very blustery, dark rainy morning here in Seattle, Washington. I just walked outside to mail a letter. Now, as I'm reading this thread, I'm reminded of a line from a song: "Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox"… I don't think you even have to understand the English language to hear how beautifully that "flows."

10 January 2014
5.39pm
acmac
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Harumph. Well, I'm very persnickety about poetry. The rhymes songs use almost always undermine them as read/spoken poetry (though they may work beautifully as songs). And IMO you need to nix a lot of the refrains and other repetitive phrases for any of their songs to work as (good) poetry. That said, she said grouchily, off the top of my head, some that might work are:

 

Eleanor Rigby

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

I Am The Walrus

She's Leaving Home

Come Together

 

And just because I'm in a perverse mood and want to plant my freak flag, I think the "Across The Universe" lyrics are not very good at all. So there.a-hard-days-night-paul-11

10 January 2014
5.48pm
parlance
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In case people haven't seen it, I posted a video a few months ago of Paul reading his poetry, which of course included Beatles songs.

parlance

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10 January 2014
5.57pm
Bungalow Bob
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acmac said
Harumph. Well, I'm very persnickety about poetry…

And just because I'm in a perverse mood and want to plant my freak flag, I think the "Across The Universe" lyrics are not very good at all. So there.a-hard-days-night-paul-11

Acmac, feel free to be persnickety and grouchy, but please explain why you think the lyrics of "Across The Universe" are not very good. Especially because you like the poetic flow of "Come Together," which even John Lennon described as "daft lyrics." I'm really curious here, what bothers you about "Across The Universe?" I think that the imagery is gorgeous, and the words "scan" so beautifully that you don't even have to understand English to appreciate them. Is it the chorus that doesn't appeal to you?

10 January 2014
6.24pm
acmac
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Bungalow Bob said

Acmac, feel free to be persnickety and grouchy, but please explain why you think the lyrics of "Across The Universe" are not very good. Especially because you like the poetic flow of "Come Together," which even John Lennon described as "daft lyrics." I'm really curious here, what bothers you about "Across The Universe?" I think that the imagery is gorgeous, and the words "scan" so beautifully that you don't even have to understand English to appreciate them. Is it the chorus that doesn't appeal to you?

Actually the chorus is my favorite part! :) It's the only part that sounds heartfelt to me, and John sings it so beautifully.

I appreciate "Come Together" and "Walrus" because they succeed completely on their own terms. They're absurd, evocative, pithy, with brain-tickling little enticements to deeper meanings that might lie beneath the surface. 

"Universe," OTOH, is trying desperately to be something "artsy" and "profound"... and at the risk of sounding a total academic prig, it reads like "student work" to me. Self-conscious and labored. I will concede that it scans nicely, and some of it might even work as sound-poetry, but there are still some clumsy moments ("slither wildly", "tumble blindly"). But mainly there are just too many lines that strike me as very purple and actually laughable: "possessing and caressing," "limitless undying love," "images of broken light which DANCE before me LIKE A MILLION EYES" LOLOLOL!

I'm sorry, I don't mean to make fun of anyone who loves the song. I am happy to agree that tastes differ and that people find truth and beauty in different things, which is a good thing. If something resonates, then it resonates, and that's valid. :)

10 January 2014
6.51pm
Bungalow Bob
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acmac said

Bungalow Bob said

Acmac, feel free to be persnickety and grouchy, but please explain why you think the lyrics of "Across The Universe" are not very good. Especially because you like the poetic flow of "Come Together," which even John Lennon described as "daft lyrics." I'm really curious here, what bothers you about "Across The Universe?" I think that the imagery is gorgeous, and the words "scan" so beautifully that you don't even have to understand English to appreciate them. Is it the chorus that doesn't appeal to you?

Actually the chorus is my favorite part! :) It's the only part that sounds heartfelt to me, and John sings it so beautifully.

I appreciate "Come Together" and "Walrus" because they succeed completely on their own terms. They're absurd, evocative, pithy, with brain-tickling little enticements to deeper meanings that might lie beneath the surface. 

"Universe," OTOH, is trying desperately to be something "artsy" and "profound"... and at the risk of sounding a total academic prig, it reads like "student work" to me. Self-conscious and labored. I will concede that it scans nicely, and some of it might even work as sound-poetry, but there are still some clumsy moments ("slither wildly", "tumble blindly"). But mainly there are just too many lines that strike me as very purple and actually laughable: "possessing and caressing," "limitless undying love," "images of broken light which DANCE before me LIKE A MILLION EYES" LOLOLOL!

I'm sorry, I don't mean to make fun of anyone who loves the song. I am happy to agree that tastes differ and that people find truth and beauty in different things, which is a good thing. If something resonates, then it resonates, and that's valid. :)

Acmac, these are valid criticisms and your point is very well stated. However… (ahem)… if you are to dislike "Across The Universe" for its purple prose, then how can you ignore the strained, overwrought imagery of "I Am The Walrus?" Or why doesn't "While My Guitar Gently Weep" bother you, with the cringe-worthy bridge consisting of the "diverted, perverted, inverted, alerted" rhyme scheme. (George was furiously thumbing through the rhyming dictionary there.)

I take no offense because you think the song sounds like "student work." (Paul Simon's "Sounds Of Silence," and "I Am A Rock;" now there's some purple student work.) In fact, now that you mention it, "dance before me like a million eyes" is pretty laughable. I never noticed that before. I enjoy almost everything the Beatles did, even though it you examine the music closely enough, there is a lot not to like. Another thing I enjoy is a civilized, good-natured debate, and I think we've got that here. :)

10 January 2014
10.32pm
Funny Paper
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While Beatles lyrics are great, I consider some other singer/songwriters to have developed better poetry per se -- example, Phoebe Snow:

 

Inspired Insanity

Help yourself to my new clothes

Borrow some of my daydreams, too

A few of them came true

In color, too...

What's that picture

In your frame of mind?

Is it something I can help you find...?

Oh, the stories I could tell,

But you don't listen well, my friend.

You ain't talked to me of late

But don't you worry, I can wait again...

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity...

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity.

 

You're like my second childhood

Complete with all the mistakes

I've made

The party's overstayed,

That's our charade...

One man's high is

Just another's waste

I'm only preaching 'cause I've had my taste.

You can call me hung up

When I call you, don't hang up the phone.

If something scares you in the mirror,

I will know that you're alone...

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity...

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity.

 

While I'm speaking I lose you

Others pry at your Key of Lear,

You told me you don't care,

But you've changed

Your hair...

I feel pretty stubborn today

I shrug my shoulders and I stay

I stay...

Logic doesn't work

Neither would a magic wand.

If I turned and walked right now,

Would you notice I had gone...?

But if you are free

Come and visit me:

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity.

 

[And of course, Phoebe's music lifts the words even higher --

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
12 January 2014
1.59am
DayInTheLife
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Funny Paper said
While Beatles lyrics are great, I consider some other singer/songwriters to have developed better poetry per se -- example, Phoebe Snow:

 

Inspired Insanity

Help yourself to my new clothes

Borrow some of my daydreams, too

A few of them came true

In color, too...

What's that picture

In your frame of mind?

Is it something I can help you find...?

Oh, the stories I could tell,

But you don't listen well, my friend.

You ain't talked to me of late

But don't you worry, I can wait again...

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity...

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity.

 

You're like my second childhood

Complete with all the mistakes

I've made

The party's overstayed,

That's our charade...

One man's high is

Just another's waste

I'm only preaching 'cause I've had my taste.

You can call me hung up

When I call you, don't hang up the phone.

If something scares you in the mirror,

I will know that you're alone...

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity...

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity.

 

While I'm speaking I lose you

Others pry at your Key of Lear,

You told me you don't care,

But you've changed

Your hair...

I feel pretty stubborn today

I shrug my shoulders and I stay

I stay...

Logic doesn't work

Neither would a magic wand.

If I turned and walked right now,

Would you notice I had gone...?

But if you are free

Come and visit me:

Come visit me, Inspired Insanity.

 

[And of course, Phoebe's music lifts the words even higher --

Absolutely Wonderful. I've never heard of Phoebe before and now I'm in love with these song! And about the topic:Across The Universe, Eleanor Rigby, Norwegian Wood, In My Life and Strawberry Fields are songs that sound like poetry to me and that are very personal to me in an certain way. Other lyricists: Bob Dylan, Leornard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Morrissey and Neil Young are some of my favorites.

"If there's a thing such as genius. I am one. And if there isn't, I don't care." - John Lennon

 

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