View Full Version : Great lyrical stanzas

L.W. Baxter
04-17-2017, 10:51 PM
I like a good phrase or stanza. Don't even care if I really understand it, just love a good flow of interesting words to perk up the brain.

My first contribution is from the tune that made me think, man, I love a good stanza, I should post a thread.

From "Calamity Song", The Decemberists:

Hetty Green
Queen of supply-side bonhomie bone-drab
You know what I mean
On the road
It's well advised that you follow your own bag
In the year of the chewable Ambien tab

04-17-2017, 10:57 PM
One of my favourite songs, brilliant lyrics.

"Just Blew In From The Windy City"

The windy city is mighty pretty
But they ain't got what we got, no sirree
They've got shacks up to seven stories
Never see any Morning Glory's
But a step from our doorway
We got 'em for free

They've got those minstrel shows
Pretty ladies in the big chateau's
Private lawns, public parks
For the sake of civic virtue
They've got fountains there that squirt you

I just blew in from the windy city
The windy city is mighty pretty
But they ain't got what we got
I'm tellin' ya, boys
We got more life in Deadwood City
Than in all of Illinois

You should-a seen me a-windo' shoppin'
A-windo' shoppin' with eyes a-poppin'
At the sights that you see there, yes sirree
Press a bell and a moment later
Up you go in an elevator
Just as fast as a polecat a-climbin' a tree

I heard claim hundreds came
To a thing they call a baseball game
Cigar stores, revolving doors
They got new inventions coming
'Stead of outdoor, indoor plumbing

I just blew in from the windy city
The windy city is mighty pretty
But they ain't got what we got
I'm tellin' ya, boys
I ain't a-swappin' half of Deadwood
For the whole of Illinois


and my favourite brilliant rhyme in the song,

For the sake of civic virtue
They've got fountains there that squirt you

Jim Bow
04-17-2017, 11:14 PM
This Hotel Room - Steve Goodman

This hotel room got a lot of stuff
A laundry bag and a shoe shine cloth
Thirty-two hangers and a touch-tone phone
Well a light that comes on when I'm not home
I ain't home, I ain't home
You better leave a message cause I ain't home

They got an air conditioner for when I'm hot
A radiator for when I'm not
Two big chairs sittin' side by side
With a Holy bible and a TV guide
TV guide, TV guide, great God o' mighty
It's a TV guide

I got a second story view from curb to curb
I got a sign that reads "Do not disturb"
A monogram towel and a bucket of ice
A chest of drawers and a mirror that lies
Mirror that lies, mirror that lies,
That couldn't be me in the gorilla disguise

They got a room service menu for food and drinks
A porcelain throne and an aluminum sink
Two big pillows to rest my head
A magic fingers and a king size bed
Put in a quarter, turn out the light
Magic fingers makes you feel alright
Feel alright, feel alright
Magic fingers makes you feel alright

Oh this ole' hotel's alright with me
They pay the postage if you loose the key
This hotel has got a lot of stuff
But I do believe I have had enough
Call my baby said, don't you pout
I'm packin' my bags and I'm checking out
Just as soon as you hang up the telephone
Stick a candle in the window I'm comin' home
Comin' home, comin home
Stick a candle in the window, I'm comin' home

L.W. Baxter
04-17-2017, 11:23 PM
I ain't even mad. But them are whole songs.:D

04-17-2017, 11:25 PM
This may not measure up, but I've been finding this to be absolutely delightful. It's Archie Fisher backing up Cyril MacPhee:


Keith Wilson
04-17-2017, 11:27 PM
Ambien tab??? WTH?? I always heard it as the 'chewable Andean crab'! :d

L.W. Baxter
04-17-2017, 11:33 PM
Ambien tab??? WTH?? I always heard it as the 'chewable Andean crab'! :d


As for the thread, what I'm shooting for is distillation.

For instance, "Idiot Wind" by Bob Dylan may be the best bit of popular songwriting in the English language...but I won't post the whole song.

I will pick the best line or verse and get back to you. Could take a while.

04-17-2017, 11:34 PM
The south coast of Texas is a thin slice of life.
It' s salty and hard it is stern as a knife.
Where the wind is for blowin' up hurricanes for showin'
The snakes how to swim and the trees how to lean.

In the cars of my youth how I tore through those sand dunes.
Cut up my tires on them oyster shell roads.
But nothin' is forever say the old men in the shipyards
Turnin' trees into shrimp boats, Hell, I guess they ought to know!

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
04-17-2017, 11:39 PM
I first heard this as a 16 year old at summer camp, not the usual, was more of an outpost from which extended trips were staged. Counselors were more hippy than scoutmaster. I was with another counselor in a canoe paddling a river, he started singing this, paddling in rhythm.

Tangled Up In Blue
Bob Dylan

Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
I was layin’ in bed
Wond’rin’ if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough
And I was standin’ on the side of the road
Rain fallin’ on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I’ve paid some dues gettin’ through
Tangled up in blue

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin’ away
I heard her say over my shoulder
“We’ll meet again someday on the avenue”
Tangled up in blue

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin’ for a while on a fishin’ boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind, and I just grew
Tangled up in blue

She was workin’ in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept lookin’ at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I’s just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, “Don’t I know your name?”
I muttered somethin’ underneath my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello,” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafés at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue

So now I’m goin’ back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters’ wives
Don’t know how it all got started
I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue

Bob (oh, THAT Bob)
04-17-2017, 11:43 PM

As for the thread, what I'm shooting for is distillation.

For instance, "Idiot Wind" by Bob Dylan may be the best bit of popular songwriting in the English language...but I won't post the whole song.

I will pick the best line or verse and get back to you. Could take a while.

Naw, for me its:

Oh, God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"
Abe said, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"
God said, "No" Abe say, "What?"
God say, "You can do what you want, Abe, but
The next time you see me comin', you better run"
Well, Abe said, "Where d'you want this killin' done?"
God said, "Out on Highway 61"

Old Dryfoot
04-17-2017, 11:45 PM
Yeah, I can see it now
The distant red neon shivered in the heat
I was feeling like a stranger in a strange land
You know where people play games with the night
God, it was too hot to sleep
I followed the sound of a jukebox coming from up the levee
All of a sudden I could hear somebody whistling
Fromright behind me
I turned around and she said
"Why do you always end up down at Nick's Cafe?"
I said "I don't know, the wind just kind of pushed me this way."
She said "Hang the rich."

L.W. Baxter
04-17-2017, 11:47 PM
Ani Difranco, Fuel:

And we can choose between the colors
Of the lipstick on the whores
'cause we know the difference
Between the font of "twenty percent more"
And the font of "teriyaki"
You tell me
How does that make you feel?
You tell me what's real

L.W. Baxter
04-17-2017, 11:53 PM
Sinead O'Connor, "Feel So Different":

I started off with many friends
We spent a long time talking
I thought they meant every word they said
But like everyone else they were stalling

Ralphie Boy
04-18-2017, 12:24 AM
"These Altitudes...
these dizzying heights,
These Bottomless pits...
these sweet delights."

-PIL, Johnny Rotten

"Aren't you the one who used to set the paces?
Running up in front of a hundred faces.
I don't suppose you would remember me, but I used to follow you
back in '63"

Bellboy, The Who

04-18-2017, 06:11 AM
All our scattered love dreams
Are lost and blown away
Buried 'neath the shuffle
Of an overflowing day
Our love needs a transfusion; let's shoot it full of wine
Fishing for a good time starts with throwing in your line.

Tom Waits - New Coat of Paint

04-18-2017, 06:58 AM
"Watching The Detectives"

Nice girls not one with a defect,
cellophane shrink-wrapped, so correct.
Red dogs under illegal legs.
She looks so good that he gets down and begs.

She is watching the detectives.
"ooh, he's so cute!"
She is watching the detectives
when they shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.
They beat him up until the teardrops start,
but he can't be wounded 'cause he's got no heart.

Long shot of that jumping sign,
Visible shivers running down my spine.
Cut the baby taking off her clothes.
Close-up of the sign that says,"We never close"
You snatch a tune, you a match a cigarette,
She pulls the eyes out with a face like a magnet.
I don't know how much more of this I can take.
She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake.


You think you're alone until you realize you're in it.
Now fear is here to stay. Love is here for a visit.
They call it instant justice when it's past the legal limit.
Someone's scratching at the window. I wonder who is it?
The detectives come to check if you belong to the parents
who are ready to hear the worst about their daughter's disappearance.
Though it nearly took a miracle to get you to stay,
it only took my little fingers to blow you away.

Just like watching the detectives.
Don't get cute!"
It's just like watching the detectives.
I get so angry when the teardrops start,
but he can't be wounded 'cause he's got no heart.
Watching the detectives.
It's just like watching the detectives.

Tom Montgomery
04-18-2017, 08:51 AM
This stanza can provoke thought:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Francis Scott Key -- The Star Spangled Banner

04-18-2017, 08:56 AM
She thought I was a saint, I'm a sinner gone astray. - The Ballad of Spider John, by Willis Alan Ramsey.

04-18-2017, 09:00 AM
That was Wisconsin that was yesterday
Now I have nothing that I can keep
'Cause every place I go I take another place with me
Love is love's critique

- Bon Iver, Wisconsin

04-18-2017, 09:22 AM
When the waves roll on over the waters

And the ocean cries

We look to our sons and daughters

To explain our lives

As if a child could tell us why

That as sure as the sunrise

As sure as the sea

As sure as the wind in the trees

We rise again in the faces

of our children

We rise again in the voices of our song

We rise again in the waves out on the ocean

And then we rise again

- Leon Dubinsky, popularized by The Rankins

04-18-2017, 09:37 AM
Learn to work the saxophone
I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

Steely Dan - Deacon Blues

04-18-2017, 10:46 AM
I'm riding on the boiler of a long, black train

Tryin' to find the brakes in a pourin' rain.

I got smokestack lightin' pourin' from the funnel

What's that little light at the end of the tunnel?

Must be my baby, hey, hey, hey!

She can make the Mississippi River run the other way.

Must be my baby, just in time

How's she always know when I'm 'bout to lose my mind?

L.W. Baxter
04-18-2017, 01:55 PM
That's alright, I still got my guitar.

Jimi Hendrix, "Red House"

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
04-18-2017, 01:57 PM
"Well, I don't know, but I've been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I'm tired of screwin' up, tired of going down
Tired of myself, tired of this town

Oh, my my, oh, hell yes
Honey, put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song
Take me as I come 'cause I can't stay long"

Last Dance With Mary Jane, Tom Petty.

David G
04-18-2017, 02:44 PM
And how they used to laugh at me
When I refused to ride
On them double-decker buses
Because there was no driver on the top

04-18-2017, 04:31 PM
I don't know what happens when people die
Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It's like a song playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
I can't help listening

Just do the steps that you've been shown
By everyone you've ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours another's steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you'll do alone

Jackson Browne - For a Dancer

amish rob
04-18-2017, 04:59 PM
Was it better not to know?
Was ignorance truly bliss?
It seems we live, just to fade away,
Believing tomorrow is just another day.
But, I won't believe this is true.
Some of us know there's more than we've been shown.
One man's burden is another man's life.

-Chuck Yeager
Rivals (it's a band)

Paul Pless
04-18-2017, 05:37 PM
from yellow ledbetter

Can you see dems?
Oh, I know poor boys
Potato wave
ICEE dems
Brown the runway
Anna no, Anna no
I don't wanna shave it off

04-18-2017, 06:59 PM
Buffalo Bill’s


who used to

ride a watersmooth-silver


and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat


he was a handsome man

and what i want to know is

how do you like your blue-eyed boy

Mister Death

—e.e. cummings

04-18-2017, 07:03 PM
All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn.

four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
the merry deer ran before.

Fleeter be they than dappled dreams
the swift sweet deer
the red rare deer.

Four red roebuck at a white water
the cruel bugle sang before.

— e.e. cummings

David G
04-18-2017, 11:06 PM
Chevy with your wheels off,
squatting on the bank.
Rosary in your window,
nothing in your tank.

Holding down the temple,
lifting up the fort.
Making sense of misery,
losing sense to war.

Oh, the fire will curl your paint off,
and the storm will rust your brakes,
and you'll sink into the sediment,
and you'll find your soul too late..

Made his girlfriend pregnant.
Walked her down the aisle.
Learned it was the baker's kid.
Taught himself to smile.

Holding down the temple,
lifting up the fort.
Making sense of misery,
losing sense to [war].

Took the boy on rafting trips,
tried his hand at golf.
Called his wife his angel,
Took refuge in the cross.

Can we lift up the temple
and tear down the fort?
Can we make sense of misery
and [hum the song we lost?]

Oh, the fire will curl your paint off,
and the storm will rust your brakes,
and you'll sink into the sediment,
and you'll find your soul too late..
You'll find your soul.
It's late.

04-19-2017, 01:17 AM
There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Robert Hunter - Ripple

I couldn't bribe a wino on what I used to make
My Fortune was as sure as the wind
But I was free to wonder and time was on my hands
It was mine to burn and to bend

John Gorka - Land of the Bottom Line

man i'm as fickle as a ten-cent knife
i'm an anchorless vessel on the ocean of life

Dave Carter - Walkin Away From Caroline

love is an old root that creeps through the meadows of sleep
when the long shadows cast
thin as a vagrant young vine, it encircles and twines
and it holds the heart fast
catches dreamers in the wildwood with the stars in their eyes
and the moon in their tousled hair
but love is a light in the sky, and an unspoken lie
and a half-whispered prayer

Dave Carter - Tanglewood Tree

04-19-2017, 01:19 AM
Padded with power here they come
International loan sharks backed by the guns
Of market hungry military profiteers
Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
With the blood of the poor

Who rob life of its quality
Who render rage a necessity
By turning countries into labour camps
Modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

Bruce Cockburn - Call it Democracy

The village idiot takes the throne
His the wind in which all must sway
All sane people, die now
Be lifted up and carried away
You've got no home in this world of sorrows

There's a parasite feeding on
Everybody's bag of rage
What goes out returns again
To smite the mouth and burn the page
Under the rain of all our dark tomorrows

I can see in the dark it's where I used to live
I see excess and the gaping need
Follow the money - see where it leads
It's to shrunken men stuffed up with greed
They meet and make plans in strange half-lit tableaux

Under the rain of all our dark tomorrows

Bruce Cockburn - All Our Dark Tomorrows

You've got anti-matter language
Contrived to conceal
You've been lying so long
You don't know what's real
You're a figment of your own imagination
And people see through you

You've got lip service tributaries
You've got death fetish mercenaries
You hold the tickets to the cemetaries
You're big and bad and scary
But people see through you

Bruce Cockburn - People See Through You

04-19-2017, 01:21 AM
One day I took your tiny hand
Put your finger in the wedding band
Your daddy gave a piece of land
We made ourselves the best of plans
Forty years go by with someone laying in your bed
Forty years of things you say you wish you'd never said
How hard would it have been to say some kinder words instead
I wonder as I stare up at the sky turning red

I've had some time to think about it
And watch the sun sink like a stone
I've had some time to think about you
On the long ride home

Patty Griffin - Long Ride Home

The dog can't move no more, surprised he made it till the spring
His pain won't go away and the pills don't do a thing
You've known that old hound longer than you've known any of your friends
And no matter how you let him down, he'll always take you back again

So it's one tall glass of whiskey, one last drink for old-times sake
The dog just lays in bed and watches every move you make
Wrap him in his blanket, hold him once more close to you
Lead him out behind the barn with a borrowed .22

Everything slips through these cold fingers
Like trying to hold water, trying to hold sand
Close your eyes and make a wish and listen to the singer
One more round bartender; pour a double if you can

Bill Morrissey - These Cold Fingers

Jimmy W
04-19-2017, 01:51 AM
I'd find me a spot on some mountain top
With no one around me
With valleys and streams and birds in the trees
And lakes that surround me

A place I feel loose
Some place I could lose
These Tennessee blues

A place to forget all my regrets
Keep just the good times
Some place I could sleep in nothing but peace
And feel free at all times

Shannon McNally - Tennessee Blues

04-19-2017, 08:54 AM
War Pigs by Black Sabbath ( first verse)

Gen'rals gathered in their masses,
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction,
Sorcerer of death's construction
In the fields the bodies burning,
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind,
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh Lord yeah


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

04-19-2017, 09:04 AM
I'm a member of an ape-like race
At the arsehole end of the twentieth century
This film's a thriller of the mind
Will we destroy our homes, release ourselves from the
Weights of gravity?
I'll be amazed if we survive

04-19-2017, 09:41 AM
Love is never gonna be a solid bet

It's kinda like workin' without a net

Don't be afraid to let your feelin's out

That's what lovin' is all about.

Stop rattling your keys,

Shut up and talk to me!

amish rob
04-19-2017, 09:44 AM
I have been driven to my knees
So often
By the overwhelming conviction
I had nowhere else to go


04-19-2017, 09:46 AM
I have been driven to my knees
So often
By the overwhelming conviction
I had nowhere else to go

RobertLincoln, says Dr. Google. Great and powerful lines.

amish rob
04-19-2017, 09:52 AM
Lincoln, says Dr. Google. Great and powerful lines.
Que no? Give me a President who WRITES stuff that well again, please. :)


Jim Ledger
04-19-2017, 10:18 AM
Methus'lah lived nine hundred years,
Methus'lah lived nine hundred years,
But who calls dat livin'
When no gal will give in
To no man what's nine hundred years ?

George Gershwin "It Ain't Necessarily So"

David G
04-19-2017, 10:19 AM
Lather was thirty years old today,
They took away all of his toys.
His mother sent newspaper clippings to him,
About his old friends who'd stopped being boys.
There was Harwitz E. Green, just turned thirty-three,
His leather chair waits at the bank.
And Sargent Dow Jones, twenty-seven years old,
Commanding his very own tank.
But Lather still finds it a nice thing to do,
To lie about nude in the sand,
Drawing pictures of mountains that look like bumps,
And thrashing the air with his hands.

David G
04-19-2017, 10:21 AM
You want to know how it will be
Me and him OR you and me
You both stand there your long hair flowing
Your eyes alive your mind still growing
Saying to me--"What can we do now that we both love you",
I love you too-- I don't really see
Why can't we go on as three
You are afraid--embarrassed too
No one has ever said such a thing to you
Your mother's ghost stands at your shoulder
Face like ice--a little bit colder
Saying to you--"you can not do that, it breaks
All the rules you learned in school"
I don't really see
Why can't we go on as three
We love each other--it's plain to see
There's just one answer comes to me
--Sister--lovers--water brothers
And in time--maybe others
So you see--what we can do--is to try something new--
If you're crazy too--
I don't really see
Why can't we go on as three.

L.W. Baxter
04-20-2017, 06:47 PM
Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind

Idiot wind
Blowing through the buttons of our coats
Blowing through the letters that we wrote
Idiot wind
Blowing through the dust upon our shelves
We're idiots, babe
It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves

04-20-2017, 07:09 PM
Dot King was whittled from the bone of Cain
With a little drop of poison in the red red blood
She need a way to turn around the bend
She said I want to walk away and start over again

There are things I've done I can't erase
I want to look in the mirror see another face
I said, "never", but I'm doing it again
I wanna walk away, start over again

04-20-2017, 07:15 PM
Fly away birdie, it’s time to fly away
Fly away birdie, don’t want to linger another day
Higher than they told you
Faster than they dreamed
Stronger than the storms that they’ve shown you
Imagine you, imagining
Spread your wings birdie, take a leap of fate, and jump on in
It’s your right, fight and flight, birdie, it’s where you are, not where you’ve been
Higher than the mountains
Faster than than the streams
Stronger than the storms that may find you
Imagine you, imagining
Watching your life slip away
Look to your heart for the way
Fly away birdie, it’s time to fly away
Don’t look back birdie, there’s nothing, nothing in your way
Higher than they told you
Faster than they dreamed
Stronger than the storms that they’ve shown you
Imagine you, imagining

L.W. Baxter
04-20-2017, 08:14 PM
Imogen Heap, Hide and Seek

Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth
Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cutouts
Speak no feeling, no, I don't believe you
You don't care a bit, you don't care a bit

Old Dryfoot
04-20-2017, 09:10 PM
Lyle Lovett: Here I Am

Given that true intellectual and emotional compatibility
Are at the very least difficult
If not impossible to come by
We could always opt for the more temporal gratification
Of sheer physical attraction
That wouldn't make you a shallow person
Would it