In this column I’d like to analyze and compare the lyrics of two songs. I have chosen them for a specific reason – they both deal with a moment of impact in the past, using a narrative style, and they, to me, represent the extreme outer ends of the spectrum when it comes to the art of lyrical craftwork. One song you’ve probably never heard before, and it’s from an artist you may never have heard of either. The other song you probably know by heart. And that breaks mine. Let’s start with the bad news first. Better to rip off that band-aid fast and just get it over with. James Blunt with You’re Beautiful:
My life is brilliant.Ok. How nice for you, that your life is brilliant. But hey, we got it the first time. No need to repeat that. And your love is pure? Nice to know. As opposed to Dirty Love, Zappa style? Now we’re talking lyrics: ‘I’ll ignore your cheap aroma/and your little-bo-peep diploma, I’ll just put you in a coma/with some dirty love’.
My life is brilliant.
My love is pure.
I saw an angel.And you saw an angel. We have no reason to doubt this. But thanks for telling us that you were sure about it anyway. God bless the Obvious Rhyme and Easy Way Out.
Of that I'm sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.She smiled at you on the subway. Hey, you’re British. Why the word ‘subway’? So no tube or underground, then? Were you in New York or something? Just curious. And she was with someone else. Bummer. But hey, you seem to be taking it pretty well, Mr. James. Because you tell us you’ve got a plan. Excellent. Can’t wait to hear more about that.
She was with another man.
But I won't lose no sleep on that,
'Cause I've got a plan.
I saw your face in a crowded place,Oh. Wait. WHAT?! You DON”T know what to do? James, James, James. You just told us you had a plan. WTF? I was so looking forward to hearing your strategy for dealing with angels on crowded subways. I’m in NYC every year – this advice might really come in handy. And now you have no idea?! That sucks. And you’ll never be with her? I’m so sorry for you. Not.
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.
Second verse:Aha. She caught your eye. This must have happened when she smiled at you. You kind of mentioned that already. But thanks for pointing that out again. It’s pretty hard to smile at someone without looking in his or her direction. Tried that once, James. No dice.
Yeah, she caught my eye,
As I walked on by.
She could see from my face that I was,Ok. You walked on by. But wait. You were HIGH? Fucking high? (Or for airplay- ‘flying high’? Is this a subtle reference to the days you were in the Army, James? Did you miss out on the chance to become a pilot, by any chance? Well I have news for you. GO BACK AND TRY.) And why were you high? Do you perhaps have a drug problem, James? Is that why you sound so boring and defensive throughout this entire excuse of a song? Or maybe none of this ever happened and these lyrics are actually an acid flashback? Sigh. Let’s move on:
Flying high, [video/radio edited version]
Fucking high, [CD version]
And I don't think that I'll see her again,OF COURSE you won’t see her again. You have NO PLAN. If you did, you’d find a way to see her. Of this I’m sure. And you shared a moment that will last till the end? The end of what? This silly song? Puh-leeze. Back to the chorus. Twice. Might I remind you that the last line of the chorus is this:
But we shared a moment that will last till the end.
Cause I'll never be with you.And then, after torturing us with the chorus once again, you end with…a new twist! Oh, I just love it when the final verse/chorus has an interesting twist to it! That’s interesting songwriting! Yes!
You're beautiful. You're beautiful.So now there’s another angel who thought up that you should be with that angel? Like an angel blind cupid dating service for people with no plans or something? That angel, if she did think this up (and have a plan of some sort), then I guess she should be fired. And why is she still smiling? What she wanted to happen didn’t. Clip her wings and ground that batch.James. You’re very rich. You’re very rich. You’re very rich. That’s true. But I have a (better) plan. I’d rather spend my valuable time being wrapped up in lyrics by someone who has a fraction of your money and has more talent in his tiniest toenail than you do in your entire body. Bring me Ray. My Ray of light.'
You're beautiful, it's true.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face,
When she thought up that I should be with you.
But it's time to face the truth,
I will never be with you.
Dat vanmiddag om 12u precies.