KUOW, “The Poetics of Great Lyrics”

Today at 1:20 on on Seattle station, KUOW, I’ll be talking about “The Poetics of Great Lyrics,” with Jeremy Richards. The interview is also available on the KUOW website here.


Jeremy asked me to select three songs that had lyrics we could talk about as poetry. I chose Neil Young, “Helpless,” The Cure, “Just like Heaven” and Beth Orton, “The Sweetest Decline.” Listen to the interview and hear me overuse the word “evocative.”  (The microphones in the studio are the size of prize winning cucumbers which can be unnerving.) Also, listen for the moment when I  refer to song lyrics as a “gateway drug to poetry.”

Things that didn’t make it on the air: 1.) I included “Helpless” on a break-up mix tape (remember those?) I made for my first boyfriend our senior year of high school. 2.) I heard “Just like Heaven” for the first time when my unbearable high school crush (hint: he was a drummer in the marching band and in Frederick’s only alternative band) gave me a ride home from a football game. Can you imagine hearing that song for the first time that way? Ah, youth.

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3 Responses to KUOW, “The Poetics of Great Lyrics”

  1. John says:

    Good songs, good thoughts. Also, you have a lovely radio voice. I couldn’t help but notice that the three singers you discussed share a vocal similarity — an organic tremolo in their voices, something I don’t think any of them are consciously affecting, but which strongly defines their voices, and probably the word choice for their lyrics.

    Also the poems you have in your video section are very good.

    that is all.

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  3. M says:

    You broke up with your first boyfriend your senior year.

    That is sad…. and revisionist.

    But no matter, you’re right, “Just like Heaven” is the gateway drug to poetry.

    Or it was, I suspect now it’s Death Cab for Cutie, “I will follow you into the dark.”