Monday, January 24

I suppose it’s very nice

Poetry. It’s a conflagration of words meant to evoke imagery, emotional response, connection.

Some poetry rhymes, some of it follows a nice rhythm that, if you have nothing better to do, you can clap out into its metered form. Some of it makes a nice visual image on your page. And some of it transcends the page and becomes song. And song becomes ingrained in our heads as we hear it repeatedly.

That’s why, even as a nine year old child, I could sing every lyric to Duran Duran’s popular hits.

At the time, I wasn’t concerned with meaning. Cherry ice cream smile? I suppose it’s very nice. I thought Simon LeBon was cute, the videos intrigued me (especially the one for “Wild Boys” where he’s strapped to that revolving wheel contraption and appears to be being tortured for some unknown reason).

(now that I watch this again, it is disturbing as all get out. Why was I allowed to watch MTV when I was younger?)

Not to flash my credentials, such as they are, but I minored in English in college, and majored in journalism. So, I feel fairly confident in saying that I know a thing or two about words. But child, I need a master’s degree to figure out the lyrics to these songs. Or, at the very least, a 300-level English class.

That’s why I thought I’d try to deconstruct some of the lyrics and see if we can make some sense of them, together. Let’s start out with an easy one, just to get in the groove.

Is there Something I Should Know – lyrics

Please please tell me now

Please please tell me now

It seems there is a sense of urgency to communicate a key piece of information. So far, so good.

I made a break I run out yesterday tried to find my mountain hideaway
Maybe next year maybe no go

I know you're watching me every minute of the day yeah
I've seen the signs and the looks and the pictures that give your game away yeah

To this point, I kind of follow what’s going on. And then, this happens:

There's a dream that strings the road a broken glass for us to hold
And I cut so far before I had to say

But thankfully, this quickly gives way to:

Please please tell me now is there something I should know
Is there something I should say that'll make you come my way
Do you feel the same cause you don't let it show

Which I can totally follow, and sing along to, and not have to think much about. Ok, back to the verses.

Oh oh, oh, oh people stare and cross the road from me
oh oh, And jungle drums they all clear the way for me
Can you read my mind can you see in the snow
And firey deamons all dance when you walk through that door
Don't say you're easy on me you're about as easy as a nuclear war

I worry about the drugs these fellows were taking. I think it made them see stuff.

Let’s move on to something a little more difficult. The one that made me wonder, as a tot, if I would ever be friends with a girl this exotic, or if I could change my name when I got older.

Moving on the floor now babe you're a bird of paradise
Cherry ice cream smile I suppose it's very nice
With a step to your left and a flick to the right you catch that mirror way out west
You know you're something special and you look like you're the best

Clearly, there is one fine lady up in this club.

Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
Just like that river twisting through a dusty land
And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grande

Can this broad walk on water?

I've seen you on the beach and I've seen you on TV
Two of a billion stars it means so much to me
Like a birthday or a pretty view
But then I'm sure that you know it's just for you

What puzzles me here is what is “it” that is “just for you”? The pretty view? The stars? The beach? The TV? The sand? The cherry ice cream?

Hey now woo look at that did she nearly run you down
At the end of the drive the lawmen arrive
You make me feel alive, alive alive
I'll take my chance cause luck is on my side or something
I know what you're thinking I tell you something I know what you're thinking

OK, now we’re getting to the crux of the matter. This Rio chick has done something troublesome to stir up some trouble at the club. This is a real turn-on for him. Oh, Rio.

Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do

I got nothin’.

I could keep going, but I’d like to skip directly to the 300 level class. Mensa members have tried and failed to understand what is going on in this song. So for me, a woman of slightly above average intelligence, I clearly have my work cut out for me.

Union Of The Snake
Telegram force and ready I knew this was a big mistake

Telegram force? With the first two words of the song, I am already lost.

There's a fine line drawing my senses together
And I think it's about to break

A little bit easier. He’s about to lose it.

If I listen close I can hear them singers oh-oh-oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio-oh-oh

This man has forgotten to take his anti-psychotics and is starting to hear things that aren’t there.

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it's gonna race it's gonna break through the borderline

What kind of union is this? Is it based in Mexico? Or, given that Duran Duran is from England, maybe it’s an Irish union? This is clearly some kind of gang that is planning on making a move. But should we believe him? He’s not exactly a reliable source, given the whole “off his meds” thing.

Nightshades on a warning give me strenth at least give me a light

Give me anything even sympathy there's a chance you could be right

I think Cory Hart said it simpler: I wear my sunglasses at night, so I can, so I can.

Well, I’m not sure I shed any light on these lyrics. Does it matter? For some reason, these songs resonate. People still clamor to see Duran Duran in concert. I have at least three of their songs on my iPod (including the last, above). So I guess the conclusion to be drawn here is that cohesive, understandable lyrics don’t necessarily make a song good. A song can be good if the music is good, if the singer is charismatic, and if there is compelling visual to go along with it. These three components are undeniable.

So I’ll continue to sing along and not get hung up on the meaning..

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