“Some days I need the music and some days I need the lyrics.” – Unknown
Do you have a favorite lyric? Are there words you wait for with bright, almost childlike anticipation when you listen to your favorite song? I’ve got one, it comes from a little-known Elton John song with lyrics written by the great Bernie Taupin, John’s longtime lyricist. The song is called “Blues for Baby and Me”. It’s a simple song, with a clear message, at least for me. Listening to it, I imagine waking up early on a clear, but cool, summer morning. I pack a bag, and leave everything behind…to begin again, alone, to the west.
The lyric is this:
It’s all over now, don’t you worry no more
We’re gonna go west to the sea
The Greyhound is waiting, and the radio is playing
Some blues for baby and me
And the highway looks like she never did
Lord it looks so sweet and so free
And I can’t forget that trip to the west
Singing blues for baby and me
Now, I can’t tell you why those words move me so much, but they do. When I hear them, I remember myself. I dissolve into a world of one. A world of peace and surrender that resonates within my body. In my mind I am on a bus, alone with the window open. I’m breathing fresh air from the high desert, clean and warm. The sun is setting in the sky.
I am free.
We all know that words are powerful. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of harsh words from someone you love, you know what I mean. Words stick. Some words will even live in our minds, maybe even our hearts and souls, forever. Lyrics are simply words that are linked to another powerful form of communication: music. So… lyrics are not just words. Lyrics are poetry bound to sound, and they are changed by the unique way they intertwine with musical energy. They are designed to move you in an emotional, physical and spiritual level. Therefore, simple words on a paper, when met with the right music, can change the world. Indeed, it has. Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples of how lyrics influenced history:
Star Spangled Banner – Francis Scott Key wrote a poem after he witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by the British during the War of 1812. Later it was set to music and in 1931 became America’s national anthem.
We Shall Overcome – This song, with roots in the African American church, became synonymous with the civil rights movement. When Bob Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the north, they helped promote the song to a national level. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide.
Feed the World / Band Aid – This song has become synonymous with the plight of millions of starving African children. The song so captured people’s attention that the response to subsequent disasters has been different and millions of have benefitted because of it.
I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing / Coke Song – This jingle was so popular that it was rewritten into a full-length song and now everyone knows the difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. I prefer Coke, just saying.
The point is… words have power. Words, mingled with music, have magical powers. This magic can cross the boundaries of fear, loss, pain, sadness, and loneliness. Allow yourself to be moved by the magic. Open yourself up, to being moved and changed by lyrics. You can access it anytime you want and become a part of it.
Music and lyrics can change your heart, which in turn can change your mind. And when you change your mind, you change your world. As the song Imagine goes:
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope one day you’ll join me
And the world will be as one
John Lennon, there’s a guy who knew the power of a good lyric. Now go find the magic.
Terri Fevang joined the Wellness House of Annapolis team as Program & Development Director in the summer of 2020 to support the enhancement and development of our adult, child, and family support programs. Terri is also a music composer and certified music practitioner (CMP)/therapeutic musician, and a graduate of The Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP), a certification program that trains musicians in the art and science of using the transformative healing power of music at the bedside of the sick and dying.