Tag Archives: song writing

Where have all the Good Rhymes gone?

Another post from the past.

Where have all the Good Rhymes Gone?

 I’m not sure when rhymes all but disappeared from modern poetry, but pick up any recent collection and you would be hard put to find a single rhyme. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, on the other hand, stop anyone in the street and ask them to recite their favourite poem and invariably, if they reply at all, it will be a rhyming poem. So people like rhyme but if poets have stopped rhyming where do people go for their rhyming fix?

The answer of course is popular song. Pop, folk, country, rock, rap, hip hop could not function without rhyme; obvious rhyme mostly, rhyme that can seen coming a mile away. If you hear ‘dance’ there will be ‘romance’; if you hear ‘night’, it’s going to be ‘alright’, if you hear “love’, there will be a ‘sky above’. This can be boring or comforting depending on your point of view. But there are rhymes in popular song, rhymes that avoid cliché, that manage to surprise. For example:

The bridge at midnight trembles

The country doctor rambles.

(Bob Dylan from “Love minus Zero, No Limits)

Or more recently, check out the “The Trapeze Swinger” from Sam Beam[i] of Iron and Wine who writes songs of such fragile beauty that it feels like they will fall apart if you touch them.

But please remember me, fondly

I heard from someone you’re still pretty

And then they went on to say that the Pearly Gates

Had some eloquent graffiti

 Or, from the White Album:

I’m so tired, I’m feeling so upset

Although I’m so tired, I’ll have another cigarette

And curse Sir Walter Raleigh

He was such a stupid get[ii].

‘Trembles, ‘rambles’, ‘poetry’, ‘graffiti’, ‘cigarette’, stupid get’, all rhymes that don’t resort to cliché, that manage to surprise and there are many more. So if there is anyone out there reading this, send me your favorites, let’s get a list going! Only two criteria: 1) the rhyme must surprise 2) no rhymes ending in ‘ution’ as in “make revolutions/ not institutions/ dilution/ is not the solution/ to pollution/ make restitution…enough already.

*******

[i] Why has Sam Beam not been made poet laureate of the United States of America? He could have written “Trapeze Swinger” alone, and he would be streets ahead of anyone else. Graffiti on the pearly gates -‘tell my mother not to worry’,  ‘rug-burned babies’, ‘a trapeze swinger as high as any savior’; check it out here:

[ii] Some websites write this as “stupid git”, but the album liner notes show it as “stupid get” which obviously rhymes better but also it would be more likely that Lennon being from Liverpool would use the Irish (and also Scottish) pronunciation ‘get’ rather than ‘git’ which is more common in the south of England. By the way, Wiktionary suggests that ‘get’ is related to the word ‘beget’, whereas I think it is more likely that it comes from the gaelic word ‘geit’ meaning ‘fright’ or ‘terror’. The meaning has since morphed into something close to ‘jerk’.

 

2 Poems and a Song Lyric at The Basil O’Flaherty.

I have 2 poems (“Living Off the Grid”, “Railspur Alley Park”) and a song lyric (“Willie’s Oasis”) up at the tri-quarterly web magazine “The Basil O’Flaherty”.

Regular visitors to this blog will recognise the second poem as a triple slimverse. Only the second time this verse form has appeared outside this blog….is that momentum I feel?

I’m never totally sure about publishing song lyrics as they sometimes seem a bit thin on the page without melody and music, but I hope this one stands up! You can check out a sample of the recorded version here.

Stilt Walker / Between (Song Without a Chorus)

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Between (Song Without a Chorus)

Between the caucus and the carcass

Between the chaos and the calm

Between the fracas and the ruckus

Between the righteous and the damned

 

Between the priest and the sermon

Between the sermon and the song

No one can determine

Why we all can’t get along.

 

Between the question and the answer

There is a lifetime of space

Between the dance and the dancer

There is beauty and there is grace.

 

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The Mitchell-Feeney Project – Track 7, The Note

Earl sailed up the Belize coast

In his brand new custom built boat

With the mother of all hangovers

No water and a note

And now he’s sitting drinking

In an ocean-side tourist bar

Trying to get a jump on happiness

In the hour before happy hour

I had just landed on Caye Caulker, which is little more than a sand spit off the coast of Belize, when it started to rain heavily. There was nothing else to do but go to an ocean-side bar, in the hour before happy hour. It was as crowded as a bar gets on Caye Caulker and there was this guy bragging in a loud voice about how he had just sailed up from Placencia in his new boat with “the mother of all hangovers” and no water on board. The guy was a bit of a jerk, so I decided to write him into a poem (which turned into this song lyric) and give him a hard time. By the way I tried working “Placencia” into the lyric but the word just hissed and flopped around like a drunk snake, so I gave up on it! Take a listen, and then John Mitchell will explain how he managed to sound like a rock band all by himself!

Here’s John:

I could hear “The Note” played by a real southern rock band. That’s the attitude I took to the musical arrangement. Earl had a bad case of the regrets mixed with a helping of anger, a bad hangover and topped with a soucent of despair, all in all a pretty heavy feeling, so it needed rough and heavy music. The opening distorted guitar lick is a nod to “Susie Q” by CCR played through an overdriven Fender Deluxe amp. I tried to make the track sound like a 5 or 6 piece band playing live in a smokey, roadside bar. I added the rock and roll piano on the choruses, as if Leon Russell was playing and the greasy Hammond organ as if Greg Allman was sitting in, especially the solo played through an overdriven Leslie speaker with a tear in the cone. I think Earl would appreciate how the band interpreted how he was feeling after getting “The Note”.

Click here to preview/ buy the whole album or individual tracks! Also available on iTunes (search for “The Mitchell Feeney Project”, no hyphen)

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The Mitchell-Feeney Project – Track 6, Saturday Morning in Idabel.

There’s a dead armadillo

on the side of the road

empty beer can in his claws

that joke just never gets old.

There’s a dog on the shoulder

trying to bite his own tail

I’m in the motel parking lot

watching that dog fail.

 

This lyric started with a poem I had published in The Shop literary magazine (called Down and Out in Idabel), then took off in a different direction. When writing the lyric, I was thinking of the feel of Kris Kristofferson’s, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and the structure of songs like John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” in which the verses are a series of snapshots that connect back to the chorus. Play it in your car and sing along with the chorus when no one is listening! That’s what I do!

Here’s John to tell his side!

When I saw that Idabel, Oklahoma was in this little bitty, piece of land between the states of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma I jumped right off the front porch, because now I could REALLY do a country song. I’ve always loved the pedal steel guitar but you have to have it in the right song, and “Saturday Morning in Idabel” is just the song. 

The chord progression is pretty much true country. I found a lovely little rhythm track with some nice tight fills, added the bass and then I used my Larrivee D-50 to lay down the acoustic track.  I added some Fender strat. with heavy Duane Eddy tremolo for flavour. I called up John McArthur Ellis, a wonderful pedal steel player, and asked him to just play whatever he felt fit the song, and he was fantastic. Again the tracks were exchanged by e-mail. I think the best way to be a producer, is to let players play the way they feel, with only a soucent of direction. If you don’t trust them, don’t hire them. After I did the lead vocal, I called on the John Mitchell choir to do a little back-up singing, and there ya go. A swell little country song thanks to the inspiration of Jim Feeney.

Click here to preview/ buy the whole album or individual tracks! Also available on iTunes (search for “The Mitchell Feeney Project”, no hyphen)

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Where have all the Good Rhymes gone?

Where have all the Good Rhymes Gone?

 I’m not sure when rhymes all but disappeared from modern poetry, but pick up any recent collection and you would be hard put to find a single rhyme. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, on the other hand, stop anyone in the street and ask them to recite their favourite poem and invariably, if they reply at all, it will be a rhyming poem. So people like rhyme but if poets have stopped rhyming where do people go for their rhyming fix?

The answer of course is popular song. Pop, folk, country, rock, rap, hip hop could not function without rhyme; obvious rhyme mostly, rhyme that can seen coming a mile away. If you hear ‘dance’ there will be ‘romance’; if you hear ‘night’, it’s going to be ‘alright’, if you hear “love’, there will be a ‘sky above’. This can be boring or comforting depending on your point of view. But there are rhymes in popular song, rhymes that avoid cliché, that manage to surprise. For example:

The bridge at midnight trembles

The country doctor rambles.

(Bob Dylan from “Love minus Zero, No Limits)

Or more recently, check out the “The Trapeze Swinger” from Sam Beam[i] of Iron and Wine who writes songs of such fragile beauty that it feels like they will fall apart if you touch them.

But please remember me, fondly

I heard from someone you’re still pretty

And then they went on to say that the Pearly Gates

Had some eloquent graffiti

 Or, from the White Album:

I’m so tired, I’m feeling so upset

Although I’m so tired, I’ll have another cigarette

And curse Sir Walter Raleigh

He was such a stupid get[ii].

‘Trembles, ‘rambles’, ‘poetry’, ‘graffiti’, ‘cigarette’, stupid get’, all rhymes that don’t resort to cliché, that manage to surprise and there are many more. So if there is anyone out there reading this, send me your favorites, let’s get a list going! Only two criteria: 1) the rhyme must surprise 2) no rhymes ending in ‘ution’ as in “make revolutions/ not institutions/ dilution/ is not the solution/ to pollution/ make restitution…enough already.

*******

[i] Why has Sam Beam not been made poet laureate of the United States of America? He could have written “Trapeze Swinger” alone, and he would be streets ahead of anyone else. Graffiti on the pearly gates -‘tell my mother not to worry’,  ‘rug-burned babies’, ‘a trapeze swinger as high as any savior’; check it out here:

[ii] Some websites write this as “stupid git”, but the album liner notes show it as “stupid get” which obviously rhymes better but also it would be more likely that Lennon being from Liverpool would use the Irish (and also Scottish) pronunciation ‘get’ rather than ‘git’ which is more common in the south of England. By the way, Wiktionary suggests that ‘get’ is related to the word ‘beget’, whereas I think it is more likely that it comes from the gaelic word ‘geit’ meaning ‘fright’ or ‘terror’. The meaning has since morphed into something close to ‘jerk’.

 

Poet’s Corner 4

A new poem by Slim in which I detect a shortening of ironic distance.

Driving Home with Leonard

Despite what he says

not everybody knows,

not everybody knows

like Leonard knows.

Not everybody knows

that the best songs

are about loss,

about endings;

about so long

ways to say goodbye

closing time,

and that age

can be laughed about

but not at,

if I had a hat

I would raise it to Mr. Cohen

perched up there alone

in his ancient tower.