How often are going to have this discussion? Good poetry makes for horrible lyrics, and good lyrics make horrible poetry. It's lychees and brake shoes.
Some time back, to make my point, I actually threw John Lennon under the bus because I claimed that the lyrics to Imagine make for an absolutely god-awful poem. And they do. I consider Lennon to be one of the best song writers I know of, and yet I stand by it.
Fantastic lyrics; see also Strawberry Fields, Julia, In My Life, Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey, All You Need is Love...all great tunes with great lyrics that fall completely flat upon recitation.
Now try Dylan; oft-considered to be one of the most "poetic" of lyricists. Try reading Visions of Johanna, A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, Desolation Row out loud, or even to yourself. It's almost laughable in some cases. I mean "I saw a young girl, she gave me a rainbow." Or "Einstein disguised as Robin Hood, with his memories in a trunk, passed this way an hour ago with his friend, a jeleous monk." Seriously, would any of you ever have the nerve to read that to a room full of people at a poetry reading?
But Dylan can pull it off in a song because, well, he's a song and dance man. That, and because his voice and chordal phrasing can paint an image that mere words cannot. Poetry is words and nothing else. They need to be strong enough to stand on their own merit with no crutch.
So let's not even bring rap into this. I'll have to go find my rusty grapefruit spoon.
does anyone have an opinion on leonard cohen re the lyrics vs poetry debate? he was a legitimate poet before putting words to music but is he in the same group as dylan, lennon et al as far as 'song lyrics' can't stand on their own?
it's been said before, but I think you are doing a disservice to lyrics if you take them out of the context of the music. they are meant to go together and good lyricists take a lot of time and effort to make them go together well.
good rap lyrics generally look silly when written out because you are losing the diction, tone and rhythm that is intended by the rapper. much like Dylan lyrics.
there's no need to force poetry to be lyrics and lyrics to be poetry. both are valid on their own.
very true. i only mentioned leonard cohen cause he was an established poet before putting words to music. but i would guess when he writes words for songs his approach is different than writing pure poetry like you said: he has to consider how they flow with the tune.
If I can chime in here real quick...didnt Buk detest rhyming poetry and the basis of hip hop is rhyme and beats me personally as a polish-german from Minneapolis highly doubt that Buk had much rythym either... just throwin it out there