[Abby's Road] It's about the sound, not the words

It never fails: whenever I overhear mumblings of folks yammering away about Jim Morrison and his fantastic poetry (snore) I have to stop myself in my tracks. I. Hate. The. Doors. That said, since we all know Doors fans aren’t made, they’re born, I never bother trying to tell them, anywhere, at any time about how phenomenally atrocious I think his “poetry” is. I bite my tongue and walk away quietly. I realized a long time ago that when all is said and done, generally speaking, I am not a big fan of lyrics. There are, of course, exceptions.

When they are poignant and mingle with instruments and machines lovingly; when words (and definitions of said words) and instrumentation compliment each other to the point of perfection and a story is woven over 45 minutes? Yes indeed. Sign me up.

I’m also a fan of irony. Indirectly, this makes me a fan of more than a handful of lyrics. Take a jangly little tune by Morrissey and Marr, for instance, and a person bopping down buttercup lane with the ol’ iPod in their ears, singing along, “Two lovers entwined pass me by and heaven knows I’m miserable now.” And on it goes with talk of eye-kicking and Caligula. Upon examination, this is hilarious. FAN. Thank you, Moz. Most of the time, however, I find myself listening to the sonic quality of a song and the human voice becomes but another instrument. The vibration of words as they resonate off the palate – that’s important, not the formal passage describing what a string of those vibrations mean. Vonlenska? Genius. Confused? Probably.

It all started when I fell in love with bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush and the rest of the musicians who, in my humble opinion, were too busy fussing with their pedal boards to write intelligible lyrics, let alone look up and acknowledge their audience. Such behavior may appear cold, but is forgivable. The sound created by these people was unlike anything I had ever heard. Catching them live was (and if not disbanded, continues to be) out of control. In 1992, at a joint called City Gardens in (of all places) Trenton, New Jersey, I learned I could survive without lyrics. If you’ve experienced “You Made Me Realise” live, you know what I am talking about.

I am at a loss for words just thinking about it. Really.

I will close, bid you happy weekend and take this moment to get on my shoegazer soapbox and preach to young musicians and music lovers out there. To those who have, perchance, ignored the genre because it was a scene that celebrated itself, was self-indulgent and so on. Hogwash. It’s some beautiful noise, people. I’d tell you to check out what Alan McGee has to say about it, God bless him, but you wouldn’t understand him anyway. You trust me, right??


[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]

6 comments to [Abby’s Road] It’s about the sound, not the words

  • I love me good word play though, Violent Femmes, REM, and more recently, Islands can twist words around til I’m weak in the heart.

  • Couldn’t be more on the same page. I just don’t hear lyrics. People can take one listen to song I’ve heard dozens of times and know the lyrics instantly, while I still don’t have a clue. That said, I LOVE The Doors.

    abby Reply:

    Dear Jamie,

    I forgive you.


    Jamie Reply:

    Fun fact: Jamie is really James inspired by Jim Morrison. True story.

  • 3lended 7wice

    Dear Abby,

    I forgive you.


  • THANK YOU. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO MAKE THIS POINT FOREVER. when it comes to really good music, the lyrics would be non existent to me. the last lyric i can remember with clarity? “Are we human, or are we dancer.”. Seriously.