Waxing lyrical #5
If you didn't know, all of us here at The Writer have been sharing our favourite lyrics over the past week. If you've not had a chance to catch up, you can backtrack in the blogs below.
‘Shadows, tapping at your window / Ghostly voices whisper will you come and play / Not for all the tea in China, or the corn in Carolina, never, never ever’
Land of Make Believe, by Bucks Fizz.
Excuse me while I lose all my credibility. For those of you not of, ahem, a certain age, Bucks Fizz were one of the bestselling groups of the 80s, famously winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1981 (helped in no small part by the now infamous Velcro skirt rip, which many a child of the 80s re-enacted).
They were all over the radio when I was growing up and as a child I absolutely loved Land of Make Believe. It may still be on my iPod. I always liked the evocative imagery of the child safe in her bedroom, trying to ignore the ghostly voices trying to lure her outside for god knows what (‘to have her heart’, we find out later). For a child who spent many long hours looking for the doorway to Narnia – and still harbours a small hope that it might turn up one day – it was the perfect theme song.
‘And I need you now tonight / And I need you more than ever
And if you'll only hold me tight / We'll be holding on forever’
Total Eclipse Of The Heart, by Bonnie Tyler – written by Jim Steinman.
Yep, you read right. It’s not the cheesy lyrics that do it for me. In fact, they’re pretty awful. But it’s my absolute favourite karaoke song. I've even been known to hit repeat. Shameful.
With all of its two lines, repeated to make up the entire song, it’s nothing inspirational. But those simple rhyming couplets and dramatic vocals do it for me. It’s so bad that it’s actually good.
And it’s a real belter of a song. Give it a go.
'Gloomy is Sunday / With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I / Have decided to end it all'
Gloomy Sunday, by Laszlo Javor. Translated by Sam M Lewis.
In the wrong hands this song is a melodramatic stinker (that means you, Serge Gainsbourg). But when I first heard it whispered over an intricate guitar, it was perfectly bleak and very beautiful.
Banned by the BBC for its effect on WW2 morale, Gloomy Sunday already had a bad rep for encouraging suicides in 1930s Hungary. With its sparse statements and simple cadence, it’s florid yet to-the-point. You could do a lot worse in a ready-made suicide note.
What’s interesting is the idea that death could enter through the ears; that a pop song could have such power over the listener.
Seven mildly-obsessed years, 60 or so versions and several languages later, I've whittled it down to Billy Holliday for heartache, Paul Robeson for rumbling gravitas and Diamanda Galas channelling sheer unhinged morbidity. Believe me, you don’t want her singing this about you.