Your favorite Rock lyric writers

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by smilefan, May 20, 2011.

  1. smilefan

    smilefan Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Manila, Philippines
    Which rock artists wrote your fav lyrics?

    #1 - Iggy Pop - He wrote so many things I wish I'd written
    example, about Los Angeles: "nobody knows anybody at all...
    strangers in paradise, down at the mall" ("Homeboy")

    #2 - Neil Young - Just too many to quote. "Needle and the
    Damage Done" is epic for anyone who grew up in the '70's.

    "I hit the city and
    I lost my band
    I watched the needle
    take another man
    Gone, gone, the damage done.

    I've seen the needle
    and the damage done
    A little part of it in everyone
    But every junkie's
    like a settin' sun."

    I'll NEVER write like that!

    Gimme some more killer penmanship!
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  2. chervokas

    chervokas Member

    Feb 16, 2008
    Well, Bob Dylan, natch. THE breakthrough creator of language in the rock era. The guy who made it possible for rock lyrics to be something more than "I wanna hold your hand" or "wear my ring around your neck." In fact, to my way of thinking, not only the most influential songwriter of the era, but the most influential American writer of the post war era. A phrasemaker on par with TS Eliot. His **** is better than just about everyone else's diamonds.

    Chuck Berry, rock's original genius songwriter, brilliant story teller (think about they way you hang on the outcome of Memphis, Tennessee, not knowing until the end that the estranged girl is a daughter, not a sweetheart), incredible language (the invention of elided words like "motorvating," the descriptive phrases like how the narrator describes himself as "campaign shouting like a Southern diplomat" as he's yelling for Nadine), unparallel scansion--the music of his words, the way they fit into the rhythms. The most underrated songwriter in rock history at this point. Once every rock band knew most of Berry's canon.

    Springsteen. Again the story telling in something like Highway Patrolman, Johnny 99, etc. The phrase making----there were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away/they haunt these dusty beach roads in the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets. The ability to invest in deceptively simple pop structures, complex emotions and deep undercurrents (Darkness on the Edge of Town, Hungry Heart, Tunnel of Love, One Step Up and Two Steps Back) without compromising the pop sensibility and broad audience accessibility. Great opening lines that plop the listener in the middle of something a la Hemingway (Rattlesnake Speedway in the Utah desert, I pick up my money and head back into town....or They're still racing out at the trestles, but the blood it never burned in her veins....Or Got a wife and kids in Baltimore Jack, I went out for a ride and I never when back).

    Robbie Robertson. He had a brief period of brilliance. But what a body of work in that short period of time--The Night The Drove Old Dixie Down, Up on Cripple Creek, King Harvest, The Weight, The Shape I'm In, Unfaithful Servant, Whispering Pines, Rocking Chair, Acadian Driftwood, It Makes No Difference: fresh in it's language and concerns, no love songs (well It Makes No Difference was at least a relationship song), think about a story like King Harvest about a union sympathizing worker in the rural south, unique in it's concerns AND structure...and those little breaks Levon sings are like haikus:

    Corn in the fields.
    Listen to the rice when the wind blows 'cross the water,
    King harvest has surely come.

    Ray Davies. Another great story teller. Amazing social observer and he's able to invest his social observations with both pathos and empathy as well as humor and cynicism (Village Green Preservation Society). Nifty trick that, and none too easy.
  3. DWB1960

    DWB1960 Senior Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    SoCal by way of Boston
  4. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist

    Oct 7, 2005
    Beatles and Doors...I love escapism
  5. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

    Feb 17, 2007
    Maineville, OH
    All good ones, but for me...


    "Freedom has a scent, like the top of a newborn baby's head"

    Peter Townshend

    Anything from Quadrophenia

    Bruce Cockburn

    "Like a pearl in a sea of liquid jade, his ship comes, shining..."
  6. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels

    May 4, 2008
    Rocky Hill, CT
    Richard Thompson - I'm not normally into dark songwriters, but Thompson tempers his works with humor and has a natural gift as a storyteller.

    John Prine - The Mark Twain of songwriting, he can make you laugh out loud while dropping poignant observations on human nature.
  7. DLobe

    DLobe Member

    May 6, 2011
    East of Eden
    Robert Hunter. One of the best.
  8. Jet Age Eric

    Jet Age Eric Member

    Jun 4, 2007
    Silver Spring, MD
    Pete Townshend: Articulate, eloquent, and honest.

    Mark Eitzel: Amazing imagery and can lay the pathos on thick without seeming manipulative.

    Graeme Downes: Again, VERY articulate, elqouent, and clever without the "look-at-me!"-isms of, say, Elvis Costello or the dudes in Okkervill River and the Decemberists.

    These guys are also top-flight tunesmiths. -E

    I like lots of others, but those three marry real literary qualities to
  9. cbmccarthy

    cbmccarthy Member

    Jun 5, 2009
    Columbia, SC
    Jim James (My Morning Jacket):


    Gideon. What Have You Told Us At All?
    Make A Sound, Come Down Off The Wall.
    Religion should Appeal To The Hearts Of The Young.
    Who Are You? What Have You Become?
    You Animal. Come On.
    What Does This Remind You Of?
    Truly. Truly We Have Become.
    Hated And Feared For Something We Don't Want.
    Listen. Listen. Most Of Us Believe That This Is Wrong.
    You Animal. Come On. What Does This Remind You Of?
    Animal. Come On. What Does This Remind You Of?
    Animal. Come On.
  10. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2005
    NYC area
    Jagger is often underrated.
  11. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

    Jul 11, 2007
  12. loudboy

    loudboy Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Sedona, AZ
    All the ones listed - Chuck Berry in particular is criminally under-rated.

    I'll add Steve Earle. Great song after great song, from heartbreaking ballads to wild-ass story songs, to historical narratives.

    John Hiatt is a master, also.

    OOPs- Almost forgot James McMurtry. His songs are like little screenplays.
  13. smilefan

    smilefan Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Manila, Philippines
    It is culturally fascinating that the ee cummings', ts elliot's, and John Steinbeck's of the first half of the 20th Century became Dylan's,
    Lennon's, Bono's, and Water's in the late 20th Century.

    How about Bernie Taupin. Elton is a great musician, but he only achieved "immortal" territory with Bernie writing.

    "And I think its gonna be a long long time
    till touchdown brings me round again to find
    I'm not the man they think I am at home
    Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
    Rocket man burnin out his fuse up here alone."

    "Once a fool had a good part in the play
    If it's so would I still be here today
    It's quite peculiar in a funny sort of way
    They think it's very funny everything I say
    Get a load of him, he's so insane
    You better get your coat dear
    It looks like rain"
  14. laughingsam

    laughingsam Member

    Mar 18, 2011
    currently, jerry jospeh is my favorite.

    though anders osborne is quickly making his way up the list...
  15. smilefan

    smilefan Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Manila, Philippines
    Killer choice. One of the most overlooked songwriters in American music.
  16. KillerV

    KillerV Member

    Mar 13, 2007
    Ladismith WC, South Africa
    Neil Young
    Bob Dylan (who I consider at least partly "rock")
    Eddie Vedder

    EDIT: And Billy Corgan. He has moments of brilliance where his lyrics really speak to me.
  17. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist

    Oct 7, 2005
    Eddie Vedder speaks to me as well
  18. Keasley

    Keasley Member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Leonard Cohen is definitely high up on my list of favourite lyricists, though it's debatable how 'rock' he is.

    Captain Beefheart has many moments of sheer brilliance though he can be pretty dada/surreal where Cohen is profound.

    Mark E Smith from the Fall is a magnificent asshole.

    Pete Townshend really spoke to me when I was younger, and articulated perfectly how I felt with Quadrophenia and had many other great moments. I don't listen to his stuff much anymore but I can never take away what he once meant to me.

    I find Stephen Malkmus from Pavement casually brilliant. He's not profound, but VERY evocative and very clever and coming from a true suburban middle class perspective that's sorely lacking in popular music considering it's the background of so many musicians.

    Nick Cave is in Leonard Cohen's universe as a writer, while rocking way harder.

    Jimi Hendrix is very under-rated: he could be profound, evocative and just really cool. I don't think he gets nearly enough credit.
  19. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2004
    PNW, USA


    Add to that Bon Scott:

    She had the face of an angel
    Smiling with sin

    The body of Venus with arms

    Sting can craft some pretty great lyrics: King of Pain for example is brilliant.
  20. lpsunburst

    lpsunburst Member

    Jan 7, 2006

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