Do you ever listen to an album non-stop, back-to-back, quite frankly, a little obsessively? Why is it that sometimes that album will resonate more with you than any person, website or film? Is it because it becomes like a friend ready to be there to encourage you or help you weep? I’m not sure, but I had a debate recently with a friend about what makes an album most poignant with you: lyrics or music itself.
I’m a lyric nerd. I cannot help it. I have close to 8 years of post-secondary in Liberal Arts and English and amazed there aren’t song lyrics covering my entire body at this point, though the first would most definitely be a Gaslight Anthem line.
Does that mean I can’t appreciate intricate keys or the talent required to make your fingers fly over the fretboard (or strings in your teeth while you play backwards)? Hell no. I get it. Lyrics have this really cool universal quality if you speak that language. Sometimes I’ll miss out on some rap songs, or I’ll embarrassingly be caught singing along to a clients’ song with the wrong words. (Yes, that happened last week.)
The lyric versus music debate continues on and will forever be a point of contention between music fans. As a student of poetry and art, I can’t help but be drawn to a story by Torquil Campbell and Amy Milan of Stars. But I don’t speak Icelandic and absolutely love what Sigor Ros does in terms of vocals. I doubt I’ll ever learn Icelandic, though would be quick to look out for real fairies if I ever visited, but those vocals are second only to what Sigor Ros does with those layers and layers of instrumentation.
You don’t have to play a particular instrument to be able to appreciate the years of training and just skill involved in learning a new melody or technique. I will never be able to comprehend the intricacies of Colin Stetson’s live show, but being able to sit back and listen is just as pleasurable. Watching the faces of musicians scrunch up and drops of sweat splash their instruments as they’re playing so hard or so emotionally-invested in the delivery can say more than a simple, “ooo” or “baby” lyric.
It’s been years since I’ve picked up a guitar and even more so since my mother has lamented the fact that I’ve not used my Royal Music Conservatory training. That doesn’t discount my love for music, but excuse me, I must get back to alternating listening the lyrics, then music of the Daughter album for the millionth time this weekend.
I hope if you’re reading this you too want to create an album that transcends the debate of lyrics over music. Send me an email and let me know an album you’ve been listening to obsessively. firstname.lastname@example.org
Reminder- you can always creep what I’ve been listening to in the YouRockRed office by checking out our Rdio page.