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Song lyrics that make you gasp in awe at the writer

April 17, 2012

I recently became acquainted with a British band called Elbow (so named because a detective in a BBC series said that elbow is the most sensuous word in the world…go figure). The song I most enjoy is called Grounds For Divorce. Aside from its bluesy, driving beat, the lyrics are incredible from the first line:

I’ve been working on a cocktail called Grounds for Divorce

At first glance, this line makes no sense at all. A cocktail called grounds for divorce? Unless you’re the one drinking the cocktail and your goal is to soak yourself in it until your spouse really doesn’t want you to be around any more. In severe depression, you often become so convinced of your own worthlessness that you purposely drive others away.

Doubt comes in on sticks and then he kicks like a horse

Maybe things are going okay, but doubts swirl at the edge of your consciousness, only to blindside you when you don’t expect it. If you’ve ever been kicked by a horse–I haven’t–I image its an apt comparison to what severe doubts can do to you.

There’s a hole in my neighborhood down which of late I cannot help but fall

This is perhaps the best line of the entire song. Given the context of the song, the hole could be the local watering hole, the place where your work on that cocktail you just referenced. It could also be a hole of extreme depression, and all the self-destructive, isolating actions that come with it. You try not to fall down the hole, but you do anyway, and you wind up wallowing in what’s in it, sinking down, away from everyone else, which is appropriate, given what you think of yourself.

The song was written about the death of a friend of the band, and the effects it had–the drinking, the whoring, the isolation. Having kind of dabbled in depression a time or two, it speaks a world of truth to me (except the whores part). I’ve been listening to it on and off for a few weeks now, and the lyrics still blow me away.

Great writing, regardless of its format, will always touch people and tear through their outer defenses to their hearts.

What lyrics touch you?

  1. April 17, 2012 9:04 am

    One song to which I related deeply when times were tough is Another Me by Sister Hazel.

  2. April 17, 2012 9:05 am

    … and I failed to mention how smart and deep the lyrics of this song are. I think the writing in brilliant.

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