One of my favorite people to have worked with over the years in New England radio is a woman named Jane Laier. Jane was a passionate music radio DJ, very knowledgeable about the artists she cared about, and – without trying to be – very funny! Sometimes I hear her voice talking about lyrics. She once told me, “I…am a lyric freak.” I, on the other hand, have never been a lyric freak. How I admired the people in high school who knew the lyrics to songs. I had a hard time even understanding the words in the songs I heard on the radio.
Maybe that’s why when I do notice a lyric, it’s as though it comes out and grabs me. And I hold on to it.
My friend Jane once pointed out a Nick Lowe song called “Mary Provost.” The first two lines manage to describe all you need to know about Mary Provost’s entire life. What an amazing skill for a writer.
I thought of that song the first time I saw Susan Cattaneo play at a little club in Union Square, Somerville about five years ago. She performed a song called “Whiskey Into Tears” (not to be confused with her song “I’m Worth The Whiskey”). The first line of the song has eight words. The way she delivered them…I got it. The line just came out and whacked me upside the emotional solar plexus. I took a drink…then it took me. My imagination got with the program, so to speak, and filled in the rest ahead of the following line. Eight words that described a character’s rise and fall, struggles, and…hopefully…redemption. All in eight words. That skill blows me away. Read More…