The Poetry of the Lyrical Libretto

LYRICSSOne of the best personalised number plates I’ve ever seen has to be ‘LYRIC’, spotted back in the 80’s at the Marquess of Exeter pub in Lyddington. I never did find out who owned the Mercedes that was attached to this coveted fabulous object, and I’m still occasionally reminded of that somewhat unique cherished nugget whenever the question arises: when did words become lyrics? A little like those two other great mysteries: when did plastic become vinyl and when did a needle become a stylus? If we were to acknowledge a love for the words to any song then I would contend that we are more in love with poetry than many of us would care to confess. Some people like their words to make sense, others are in tune with the likes of John Lennon or Lewis Carroll, and certainly words in songs, especially since the 1960’s, have had little need to conform to the classic lilt of the archetypical limerick. john-lennon-imagine-lyricsI would contend that the words to ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Procol Harum or ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ by Yes are equal in evocation to anything produced by the modern poetic classics that tend to spend most of their lives in unread condition on dusty unseen shelves. I recently passed a group of workmen who appeared to be digging up someone’s old driveway. Their radio was blasting out at an almost obligatory ear-bleedingly painful volume, when one of them suddenly began singing along to the song being broadcast. ‘Philadelphia Freedom, I lo..u..u…uve you….yes I do’. I smiled at the thought that here was a grown man, standing in the middle of someone’s drive, yelling ‘I love you’ at the top of his voice for no apparent reason, apart from the fact that he knew the words…so why not? I can’t ever remember the same thing happening with a poem by Thomas Hardy or Siegfried Sassoon. This makes Bernie Taupin very special in my humble opinion


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