What the hell are you talking about?!

April 5th, 2015

I don’t know how to write song lyrics. A lot of people (meaning me) thought it’s like writing a poem, and therefore if you write poetry you are writing what could ostensibly be song lyrics. But that get’s into arguments about the meaning and value of poetry and then your drawing diagrams and hurling insults, and whose got the time and energy for that? Some people go for the storytelling approach to lyrics. Others use it as a personal journaling technique or a platform on which dirty laundry is aired out. I don’t know and personally don’t care. The only thing I care about is if the song itself is a great listen and causes some sort of emotional reaction in me. That reaction doesn’t have to be huge or particularly meaningful or very deeply felt. It could be that the lyrics just make me smile when I’m yelling them while flailing my 6’6” body around spastically, yet with great rhythm – still a spaz, but I’m not ashamed. The main question for me is, “Does it all work together?”

That brings me to some of my favorite 80’s lyrical hijinx. There are plenty of songs with great (and wacky) lyrics. Some of these lead to mondegreens and others become maxims for the ages. And then there are those lyrics which are completely intelligible and yet completely incomprehensible at the same time. IOW, I know what you said, but what the hell are you talking about?!

And here is one of my personal favorites:

The reflex is an only child, who’s waiting by the park

The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark

And watching over lucky clover, isn’t that bizarre?

And every little thing the reflex does

Leaves you answered with a question mark

Before you start laughing (I just stopped so I could finish writing this), The Reflex hit #1 on charts around the world. It was a platinum selling single on a platinum selling album that’s chock full of wacky lyrics. And as nonsensical as the lyrics were, the song works. Take a listen, and smile. If you know what the hell Simon is talking about, please let me know.

Cleveland Buckner is a writer and editor based in Los Angles. He served as editor on numerous short films, including "Los Tamales and the Tartort-Eifel Crime Festival prize-winning "American Night." He has recently completed work on the web series, "Manny in Real Life." His work extends to music videos, documentaries, corporate and educational videos and the promotional video "Bear Witness" for the 2000 Olympics U.S. Beach Volleyball tandem Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson-Jordan.

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