Song Lyrics Evolution

26 Jan

“Capture the moment, carry the day
Stay with the chase as long as you may
Follow the dreamer, the fool and the sage
Back to the days of the innocent age
Storybook endings never appear
They’re just someone’s way of leading us here
Waiting for wisdom to open the cage
We forged in the fires of the innocent age

Back at the start it was easy to see
No one to own to, nowhere to be
Deep in the heartlands a sad memory calls to me (calls to me)
Fretful horizons, worrisome skies
Tearful misgivings burning your eyes
Yearnings unanswered, reckon the wage you pay
To recapture the innocent age”

I was thinking about the evolution of song lyrics the other day. Don’t ask me why, it just popped into my head, like the old Whack-A-Mole arcade game, and when it popped, I knew I had to do a piece on it. Welcome to that piece!

The lyrics above were written by Dan Fogelberg. The song, “The Innocent Age,” was released in 1981.  I’ve mentioned many times the awe I feel when I really study some of Fogelberg’s lyrics, an awe I never really felt, listening to music, in the 50’s and early 60’s.  Think about it and tell me I’m wrong, but lyrics to songs, prior to say, 1963 or 1964, were ridiculously simplistic.  Songs penned in the 30’s, the 40’s, the 50’s, were all about melody, and lyrics were almost an afterthought.

And it seems to me, and this is simply my memory and random thoughts, that it all changed when the folk singers of the late 50’s and early 60’s became popular.  Those folk singers were all about the message, and not so much about the melody, and suddenly we see Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, a major shift in songwriting, really poetry to music.

Of course there are exceptions to this theory of mine, but the music industry, as a whole, really leapt forward as I was entering my teen years, and I’m thankful for it. I can’t imagine my teen years being filled with The Lettermen, Paul Anka, and nothing more.

Poetry to music – so beautiful!

What does that have to do with the passion of writing? The name of this blog is “Artistry With Words” so yes, it has much to do with it.

Write on! The world needs more beauty, and you have the talent to add to our supply.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

25 Responses to “Song Lyrics Evolution”

  1. divalounger January 26, 2021 at 4:00 pm #

    Good morning Bill! I am so grateful that I grew up with the music and the message as well–I teethed on Judy Collins and Crosby Stills Nash and Young–not really heavy poetry, but I got introduced to Leonard Cohen’s work in those early years–Thanks for sparking those memories for me–

    • Billybuc January 26, 2021 at 5:26 pm #

      Audrey, it’s funny, really. I used to say I was not a big fan of poetry, hated it, really, in high school, and yet I was running home to turn on the radio and listen to the lyrics of poets. 🙂 Shows you how little I understood.

  2. Janine Huldie January 26, 2021 at 4:22 pm #

    Bill, I couldn’t agree more and that is how I feel even with the lyrics from The Beatles from that similar era as their words were definitely poetry in motion. So, love thinking about the evolution of song writing in general and definitely a fun exercise if nothing else. Thanks and hoping you are having a wonderful week so far, my friend 🙂

    • Billybuc January 26, 2021 at 5:24 pm #

      Thank you Janine, my Beatles friend. I love the lyrics of my favorite songwriters. They inspire me to be a better writer.

      We are all doing well here. I hope you and your family are too. Stay warm and enjoy that snow!

  3. RasmaSandra January 26, 2021 at 4:57 pm #

    Many of the best songwriters out there began as poets. Music often inspires and for me, it happens that I am listening to a favorite song and suddenly I am inspired and I write while I listen and voila – a poem.

    • Billybuc January 26, 2021 at 5:23 pm #

      Voila indeed, Rasma! It’s magical when it happens, and I’m so happy that it does. Thank you for that.

  4. manatita January 26, 2021 at 5:32 pm #

    Beautiful, Bro!

    Last night I sat up till 0200 hrs with a group of poets from Detroit. They were totally awesome! The group is called The Art of Poetry and they were sublime! Real art in motion! I did United in Love and the piece which includes Amanda Gorman, she’s an artist, too. Anyway, someone asked what lyrics meant, as the discussion continued.

    A poet gave an amazing answer, relation to song, flow, cadence, musicality and so forth. Much more. The question came up because he sang towards the end of his poetic piece, a kind of (Calls to me), I suppose. I do that too in performances. Touches the soul. ‘Nuff of my ramblings. I’m with you, Bro.

    • Billybuc January 26, 2021 at 5:48 pm #

      I love that, Manatita. Thank you for sharing that. Touches the soul indeed. Stay up until two? I don’t know the last time I did that. Not sure I can do it again. lol

      Peace, brother!

  5. Lawrence Hebb January 26, 2021 at 5:49 pm #

    A big thank you this morning. I read your post before heading off to work, and all morning I’ve been hearing ‘The last farewell’ by Roger Whitaker, one of the best ballads ever written!
    I was going to disagree slightly at first, but then I realised you were writing about what was published, that I agree with.

    ‘There’s a ship awaiting in the harbour.
    Tomorrow for old England she sails.
    From a land full of sunshine and humour.
    To a land of stormy seas and gales”

    I think you get the picture.
    Thank you.

    • Billybuc January 26, 2021 at 5:59 pm #

      I do get the picture, Lawrence, and I love that song. Thanks for sharing those lyrics/poetry with us all. Beautiful!

  6. nightlake January 27, 2021 at 4:53 am #

    Agree that when poetry and soulful music come together, the end result is amazing. Simple lyrics can bring down the hard work of the music director (though some people do like easy-to-understand stuff). Good lyrics have made mediocre music successful too. Captivating tunes, touching lyrics, and certain musical instruments always inspire me to write:)

  7. Billybuc January 27, 2021 at 2:44 pm #

    You and I are reading from the same sheet of music, Nightlake. Beautiful description, my friend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Shauna L Bowling January 27, 2021 at 5:57 pm #

    Bill, I so agree with you. I love the artists you mention in this post, including Dan Fogelberg. Today’s music just isn’t the same. The messages are vindictive, the music irritating. My soul never left the seventies. It’s comfortable there!

  9. Billybuc January 27, 2021 at 6:08 pm #

    Every single day, Sha, I tell Alexa to turn on the 60’s and 70’s tunes. I refuse to advance beyond that, for the reasons you mentioned.

    And I’m fine being a dinosaur!


  10. Shell Vera January 27, 2021 at 7:58 pm #

    Hi Bill! I am a music lover and by that I mean I LOVE lyrics and how melody and lyric combine. I can’t carry a tune when I sing but in my mind I hear the way it *should* sound perfectly. What is can’t do and spent so much of my teens trying to do, and still envy folks who can, is write music to my words. I’ve always felt like that is such a strong gift.

    Music is my go to. I’ll sing and worship and just listen to lyrics when I’m feeling strong emotions of any kind. I feel like music can unite us and help us feel not alone. As a teen, I remember listening to this song from Faster Pussycat about a boy who was waiting for his dad. While my father was known to me and available for material things, he wasn’t present to me the way I really needed. We weren’t then and aren’t now a very “feely” family. But I am a very expressive person, as you know. I remember being in the group home and sitting there just crying thinking “that’s how I feel”… like I’m just waiting for him to come and show up.

    In the song you shared, I really felt this line deeply: “Stay with the chase as long as you may”. I feel like sometimes I stay too long and other times I give up too soon. This was a good line because of the “as long as you may”. It may not truly be what I wanted and so it’s okay to leave the chase early. I have never thought of it that way.

    Good words today. And totally on topic!! Not that I’d mind if it wasn’t. I love reading your thoughts. (Let’s not talk about how freaky that sounds when typed!)

    • Billybuc January 27, 2021 at 8:07 pm #

      Shell, you had me laughing out loud at that last line of your. Not nearly as creepy as some I’ve heard. 🙂

      Sitting in the group home listening to the lyrics, wishing, hoping, longing…that is some powerful stuff, my friend. There is a memoir there, me thinks

      Have you seen that television show “Songland,” where aspiring songwriters pitch their song to three famous songwriters/producers? I am blown away by the talent it takes to hear a song once and rewrite it/rearrange it and make it a hit. Amazing talent, the kind of which I won’t come within sniffing distance of in this lifetime.

      Anyway, as always, I thoroughly enjoyed your comment. I hope this finds you well.


      • Shell Vera January 27, 2021 at 8:38 pm #

        Lol Bill. Yeah I guess it could get creepier!

        I think my poems and blog are the closet I’ll get to a memoir, but I won’t say never!

        We really enjoy “Songland”. I’ve learned of some nice artists from there. It’s always amazing to me how they start with their vision and then with such ease morph it into something specific to a singer or band. They’ve created some beautiful collaborations. And I’ve loved how some of the singers have even said, “let’s collaborate” or “I’d like you to come sing this because this is yours.” It’s one of our favorite shows and one of only two non-realty reality shows me watch.

      • Billybuc January 28, 2021 at 2:36 pm #

        I vote for the memoir!!!!!

  11. Lori Colbo January 29, 2021 at 5:38 am #

    Oh Bill, I love this. I’m a lyrics junkie also. I remember Fogelberg’s name but don’t know his songs. Not sure how that happened. I think Paul Simon was an amazing poet, so many others. Great read.

    • Billybuc January 29, 2021 at 2:37 pm #

      Paul Simon was a master wordsmith for sure, Lori! You definitely know Fogelberg’s Top Ten songs. You just didn’t know it was him singing. 🙂

  12. Andrea Stephenson January 30, 2021 at 9:16 pm #

    I was lucky to grow up in the 70s and early 80s when there was lots of choice of music around, and still a place for the average person / band from an average background to get music produced and be in the charts. Of course we all think the music from our era is the best but I like music from a whole host of eras!

    • Billybuc January 31, 2021 at 3:19 pm #

      You make a great point about music and the ability to get produced back in the 70’s. Not so today! Musicians make money on tours today, but without radio time or streaming time there are no tours. I know musicians who have played clubs for twenty years and that’s all they will ever know…and they still do it because of the love of music.

  13. Sarah Potter Writes February 8, 2021 at 4:33 pm #

    The lyrics to Annie’s Song by John Denver, written in the 1970s, still makes me go all tingly and dreamy. I also love the words to Amazing Grace, written by the slave-trade abolitionist, John Newton, in the 1700s, as it fills me with hope when I’m feeling like rubbish. I’m not that impressed with a lot of contemporary songs, in that their lyrics often contain a few words repeated continuously on a seeming loop. Even in the 1960s it was a bit variable. Some songs had meaninful lyrics and some were fairly monotonous but, nevertheless, had decent tunes. At least it meant that more people could sing away to themselves without having to remember too many words!

    • Billybuc February 8, 2021 at 4:51 pm #

      Sarah, you mean “Louie Louie?” LOL I was listening to a song the other day, a fairly popular song from the Seventies, and my God the lyrics were bad. So sophomoric, you know? I would have been embarrassed to write them, and yet the song was a big smash hit.

      Go figure!

      Our first snow of the winter is due here midweek. Very exciting!

      Sending you hugs and love from afar!

      • Sarah Potter Writes February 8, 2021 at 5:02 pm #

        The snow has arrived here. Not a lot, but it looks pretty and the air smells nice and fresh. I looked like a yeti going out for a walk this morning, I was wearing so much. My face is still looking very rosy, many hours on. My dog loves the snow. We saw a Labrador puppy yesterday, rushing around outside the front of his house with three happy children still in their nightclothes. The puppy was leaping in the air catching snowflakes in its mouth before they hit the ground and the children were catching them with clapping hands. It was a whirlind of excitement and happiness. Something we all need just now, like good medicine.

        Sending you hugs and love from across the Pond, dear Bill.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: