Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Line Maroing

Fellow geezer J.A.P started this:
"Lines – lines from songs - that you think are great. Or maybe almost great. Or maybe just lines that stick in the mind."
The million-dollar question is, do I skip the obvious sources and lines or stick to them? I am not sure but I will NOT quote from "Like a rolling stone". Done. To. Death.

I have to kick this off with a line from a more recent band that has entered my Great Line Database:

"Are we human or are we dancer?"

It is a genuine head-scratcher, lyrically and grammatically. It could also serve as a zen koan and is a sort of a companion to another line written more than 40 years ago by the Beatles, which is also a favorite of mine:

"you may be a lover but you ain't no dancer"

"God is a concept by which we measure our pain"
"How can I go forward when I don't know which way I am facing?"

"I have tended my own garden for much too long"
(one of the most underrated songs in the S&G songbook)
"Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust"
"I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die"
"I'm goin' to California where they sleep out every night"
(I know, it's not profound or anything, but it's a line I love.)

"Maybelline, why can't you be true?"
"Crusin' and playin' the radio, with no particular place to go"

"She whispered in his ear "Exactly Odo Quasimoto"
(John Prine is a genius. Please listen to "The Missing Years" album if you are not familiar with his music. You *will* thank me later.)

"your cracked country lips, I still wish to kiss" (Of all Dylan lines, is there one more precise and evocative than this? Of course there is.)
"Yes to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free"
"We are stardust"

"Water in the milk from the hole in the roof where the rain came through" (Waylon Jennings is my man)
I'm wishing, Lord, that I was stoned" (*the* saddest song about Sundays. Period.)
"Sitting on park benches like bookends" (though, to be sure, "Parsely, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" is their most quotable album)
"I saw a shadow touch a shadow's hand" (a pretentious Paul Simon lyric, but the line's been seared in my brain)
"I am 22 now and I won't be for long" (a *serious* teenage crush will forever be associated with this song and album. Ahh, teenage.)
"and after all, we're only ordinary men" (pass me the doobie, brother)
"Have no fear for atomic energy"
"You can fool some people sometime, but you can't fool all the people all the time"
"Wake me up before you go-go"
(stop smirking - it is *almost* a good line)
"it's a long way to the top if you want to rock 'n roll"

Damn, I can do this all day :) So I will end with my *most* favorite line:

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make"

P.S.: Not *one* Cole Porter line? Yes, but only because it is unfair competition.

15 comments:

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Podner, I need an e-mail. Too long for a comment.

Except that (1) you've stumped me with that "tended my own garden" line. A Paul Simon line I don't know?! (2) minor errors in some of the other lines, but those will be in my mail.

And a song that I haven't heard sung - "The road goes ever on" !

J.A.P.

Anonymous said...

Really don't mind if you sit this one out

Cajun Moon, where does your power lie?

Yes, I'll be there, shine in your Japan, sparkle in your China

You know the nighttime is the right time.....

Sing a lullaby beside the water,
Lovers come and go, the river roll, roll, roll

Ride, take a free ride, take my place, have my seat, its for free

Everybody, it's a future shock

Falstaff said...

Dude, you people have to stop.

But seriously, no Jazz? It's not just Cole Porter you know.

//For some reason the line I'm totally stuck with is "I thought you were dinner, but you were the shark".

km said...

Anonymous: So many memorable Cale lines..."Magnolia you sweet thing", "city girls they're all right"....and "Cajun moon", of course. (Some great examples in your list too...esp. the Steely Dan song.)

Falstaff: Aaggh, The Stones. I missed them out completely :)

km said...

JAP: check your email.

Tabula Rasa said...

i'm sitting this one out.

km said...

TR: Remarkable restraint :) Come on now, who are you kidding?

??! said...

Won't do no good to call,
the po-lice,
coming lay-aaaayte if they come at all
.

Way down in the hollow, leavin' so sooon

Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear, and he shows them, pearly white

There's a place way up in the mountainside, where the world keeps standing still

Ok enough. This can go on forever.

km said...

??!: Van the Man, Mack the Knife...(I had to google the others...)

??! said...

Heh. The lesser-known songs tend to stick in the head more.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

But of course - "your sperm's in the gutter, your love's in the sink".
Not enough Tull in my list, truly.

Or Floyd ... "on the turning away / from the pale downtrodden"

See my blog header for more!

J.A.P.

scout said...

oh damn i almost missed this! you know i can't resist!

"oh, so kiss him again, just to prove to me that you can"

"i see you need me, i know you do"

"i've been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror" (i love the beat to this line, so catchy)

"meet me on my vast verandah, my sweet untouched miranda" (just because we love to rhyme :D)

km said...

JAP: Indeed. Though my favorite Tull lines is indeed on your blog's masthead.

Scout: Shame on me. I couldn't identify even ONE band from that list :) (But the 3rd and 4th lines are really good.)

Aditya said...

Hi KM! I've been reading your blog for a while now, but this is my first comment. What has ended my silence is a strange coincidence connected to this post: a couple of days ago, I was searching for the phrase "Exactly odo, Quasimoto" in an attempt to decipher that John Prine song, and this post was one of the first hits. I was amazed to find that you referenced the exact same line on the exact same day!! Some form of telepathy, that :-)

Anyhow, I do enjoy reading your blog, and judging by this post we have similar musical tastes. So keep up the good work! :-D

km said...

Aditya: Thanks, that synchroncity thing does often work.

John Prine is a favorite of mine. But you are trying to decipher his songs? Good luck! :)