How much do lyrics matter to you?

Fabo

Member
For me, personally, I have to be able to enjoy a song on all dimensions. If the lyrics are just a compilation of jokes it seems to take away from the music greatly. A lot of mainstream music seems to have minimal effort placed into the repetitive lyrics that are used.

Do lyrics make a big difference to you guys as well?
 

chaymus

Senior Member
For me, personally, I have to be able to enjoy a song on all dimensions. If the lyrics are just a compilation of jokes it seems to take away from the music greatly. A lot of mainstream music seems to have minimal effort placed into the repetitive lyrics that are used.

Do lyrics make a big difference to you guys as well?
For all of my life I don't think I've ever heard a songs complete lyrics until I've listened to it dozens of times, I can probably count them on one hand. Most of the music I listen to and enjoy I don't comprehend what's being said, pieces sure, but not the whole thing. I struggle a bit in general to hear people in conversation, but lyrics in particular reside in my 'deaf spot'.

Things I hear well are drums & guitar, I can barely hear bass guitar and don't understand the lyrics unless I really focus on shutting everything else out.
 

Big Foot

Silver Member
For me, I'd rather do w/out the lyrics most of the time.
However, with singer/song writers like Cat Stevens or Bob Dylan's music you kinda need the lyrics - they are the song. Or, when it comes to singin' the blues it's hard to do without them...
But most of the time lyrics are just silly shallow stories.
 

fixxxer

Senior Member
As a drummer I like to understand what is actually being said in a song. Particularly original material so that I can accent as needed and where appropriate.
As just a listener, I think I concentrate on the music itself more and not so much to the lyrics.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
How much? This much! (one arm pointing west, one arm pointing east)

Yes lyrics are highly important to me as a drummer. For instance, certain lines in certain songs...I will play that line softer for greater impact from the vocalist.

Example: In the song "The Weight" by The Band, the one verse goes:

Go down Miss Moses/ there's nothing that you can say/ It's just old Luke and Luke's waiting on the judgement day/ Well Luke my friend, what about young Anna Lea?/ He said do me a favor son, won't you stay and keep Anna Lea company....


I play this last line (about keeping Anna Lea company) softer and it makes for a nice mood. Why? In the song, Luke is dying. His words (even though they're spoken through the singer) need to be set apart slightly from the other lines in the verse, my opinion. Levon doesn't do this, this is my idea. Think about it, a dying man just gave permission to diddle his Anna Lea, kind of important, right? That line needs different treatment IMO. Playing slightly softer there raises the musicality a notch or 2 IMO. If I didn't care about the lyrics I would have never picked up on that. Those little nuances are huge.

I think that to be a complete drummer, you need to understand what's being said in the lyrics so you can match/reflect the mood the singer creates with your playing choices. The more you listen for, the more involved in the song you become. I really don't like reading here that lyrics don't matter, they do. The reason for the song is in the lyrics, the lyrics are the song. (dance music and mindless lyrics exempted) Not something that should be ignored IMO, quite the contrary. As a drummer, we have a direct connection to the singer, we can make or break them. Knowing what they're trying to convey lyrically is vital information when trying to play a thoughtful drum part IMO.
 
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PQleyR

Platinum Member
I often don't hear them because I'm too busy listening to all the other stuff, but they are tremendously important. I don't often listen to music that serves just as a backing for lyrics...I don't think interesting lyrics can make up for dull music.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The majority of my favorite bands are my favorites because of the lyrics.

Lyrics can make or break a band, IMHO.
 

smaolach

Member
for me it depends on the music. if the music is there to support the lyrics they are very important to me (though the might be silly or dull as well if it fits). but if they are "just" an equal part to the other instruments, i don't pay additional attention to them. but its always a pity if i really like a song and then find out the lyrics are not as beautiful as the music would call for.

when i play drums in a band, i try to fit the muscial vibe first, and then care for the actual lyrics. i had a rehearsal on tuesday, where i didn't get a single word of what the singer was singin but the sound as a whole just took me away... with a singer there is more than one way to get the lyrics i guess.... did ask her for them afterwards though
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
In the songwriting process with my band I write almost all of the lyrics so I would say its very important to me.

There is a big trend among these hipster bands to have silly lyrics with no real meaning to them. I think it's just neuters any brilliance to the whole composition. I'd rather hear a guy singing "baby baby baby" than a free association of meaningless crap. Older songs and pop tunes (and Dio) get a pass in my book but I really don't care for lame lyrics.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The lyrics are what the audiences latch onto. They are the most human part of the song. Non musicians don't experience the music part on the level musicians do. They tend to skim the surface...that's the lyrics. Lyrics are the reason for the music not the other way around.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Most of the music I listen to anymore is instrumental. But I do pay lyrics a lot of attention. I don't need great lyrics to enjoy a piece of music, but well-crafted lyrics set a song apart. I share Larry's approach in that I craft my playing around them when I think it's appropriate.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The lyrics are what the audiences latch onto. They are the most human part of the song. Non musicians don't experience the music part on the level musicians do. They tend to skim the surface...that's the lyrics. Lyrics are the reason for the music not the other way around.
Well said Larry.

...........................................
 

theindian

Senior Member
I didn't really pay attention to lyrics at all for the first several years I played music. I was always much more into the instruments.

About 2 years ago I started paying attention to the words & they have become more important to me.

It's also fun trying to decipher the meanings behind them, It really surprises me when disposable sounding lyrics turn out to be really deep once the subject is considered.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
For all of my life I don't think I've ever heard a songs complete lyrics until I've listened to it dozens of times, I can probably count them on one hand. Most of the music I listen to and enjoy I don't comprehend what's being said, pieces sure, but not the whole thing. I struggle a bit in general to hear people in conversation, but lyrics in particular reside in my 'deaf spot'.

Things I hear well are drums & guitar, I can barely hear bass guitar and don't understand the lyrics unless I really focus on shutting everything else out.
I relate to this. I notice that you're into graphics and have a twisted sense of humour too. I wonder if there's a connection - a type of brain?

I miss an awful lot of lyrical detail and very few lyrics will get me in irregardless of musical content (the Indigo Girls's Closer to Fine is an exception). So I'm not a big Dylan fan. Most of the time I have no idea what he's mumbling about.

So I struggle to get past the sloppy diction of most vocalists. You need to be capable of thinking and processing quickly to pick up most lyrics and I'm more one to think slowly, train my focus on some some minutiae and then and analyse to death.

Still, the general impression of a lyric makes a big difference to me; the general vibe of a lyric can turn me on or off a song.


I think that to be a complete drummer, you need to understand what's being said in the lyrics so you can match/reflect the mood the singer creates with your playing choices. The more you listen for, the more involved in the song you become.
Rather than interpreting the lyric myself I instinctively support the singer's interpretation. The main difference here with your approach is that you're taking the initiative whereas I track the emotions without really "getting it" - a bit like a dog does :)


The reason for the song is in the lyrics, the lyrics are the song. (dance music and mindless lyrics exempted)
Huge exemption, Larry.

90% of lyrics concern matters of the groin ... oh, they masquerade as something meaningful but it's ultimately about the joys of being compelled by base instinct to find or keep a mate who one deems best suited to propagating one's genes. Then there are the hard luck tales about "the one that got away". I find it impossible to care unless there's a special lilt in the vocalist's delivery lol

I have no idea why music is so inextricably linked to matters of reproduction. Maybe when the mothership comes to collect me a crew member will fill me in on that little mystery.
 
D

DSCRAPRE

Guest
It really depends on the music I'm listening to.

For instance: if I'm listening to Yes (like I am now) I really don't listen to lyrics. I hear them, I learn them, but I don't think about what they are saying (with a few exceptions). I guess I'm just so overwhelmed with the instrumentals and harmonies that trying to decipher metaphorical puzzles just seems unimportant.

The Who, on the other hand, has lyrics that I can cling to a lot more. The songs just perfectly support the lyrics.

Rush is one of the only bands I can think of that I love the music and lyrics equally.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
Lyrics are very important to me. All parts of music are important to me. About half the music I listen to is instrumental, mostly because I do not have to consider lyrics. Peace and goodwill.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
For all of my life I don't think I've ever heard a songs complete lyrics until I've listened to it dozens of times, I can probably count them on one hand. Most of the music I listen to and enjoy I don't comprehend what's being said, pieces sure, but not the whole thing. I struggle a bit in general to hear people in conversation, but lyrics in particular reside in my 'deaf spot'.

Things I hear well are drums & guitar, I can barely hear bass guitar and don't understand the lyrics unless I really focus on shutting everything else out.
I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one! I don't hear a single word in most cases until I've listened to the song so many times that I can ignore what's happening with the music. The only exception is when the vocals are "melded" to the music as such that they contribute directly to the melody or structure... I sometimes hear that; my theory is that my brain is kinda hearing it as part of the music instead of a person saying something.
 
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