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Can lyricists be classed as poets?

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fleaaaaaa
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John Lee Hooker,
Bob Dylan,
Mike Skinner *The Streets*,
Jim Morrison

Just some of the people whose lyrics I have seen referred to as poetry.

I always wondered this one - is it poetry? I mean it must be a subdivision of poetry but if someone asked you whether you read poetry and answered "Yes I am really into Dylan" rather than Keats or Yeates, well would they really take you seriously?

together we stand, divided we fall..........


   
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s1120
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No doupt at all. I would defently call songwriters Poets. Some songs are pretty much textbook... but eaven the rest.. The flow and interconnection of words.. Poetry right t its core.

Paul B


   
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fleaaaaaa
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Are all lyricists poets then?

I mean I threw in Mike Skinner from the streets because some of the stuff is very questionable - it rhymes but does that make poetry? It's hardly eloquent - one little snippet - if you want to see the whole context look for weak become heroes and he has been called an "Urban Poet" by critics all over England.

"Hours fly over sail round diamonds and pearls never seen so many fit girls"

"Grab something to eat Maccy D's or KFC"

together we stand, divided we fall..........


   
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Crow
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This has been on my mind a lot lately, as I've been searching for texts to set to music & find most "poetry" doesn't work all that well. Song lyrics are a subspecies of poetry, but poetry and lyrics do fundamentally different things. Not to say that Dylan isn't a poet. Some of his lyrics "achieve poetry," if that makes any sense.

NPR just announced that Hal David died -- Burt Bacharach's lyricist for decades. Would David have called himself a poet? I'm not sure. There's nothing wrong with being "just" a lyricist....

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


   
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notes_norton
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Considering some of the things that pass off as poetry today (no rhyme, no form, no meter) I would classify lyricists as poets. Same for rappers. But what constitutes the difference between good poetry and bad poetry is definitely up to each individual.

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Crow
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Considering some of the things that pass off as poetry today (no rhyme, no form, no meter)...

Rhyme, form and meter have been devalued in poetry for... what? Decades, certainly. These are still valued in lyrics, however. Lyrics -- lyricism? -- is a more conservative form, at least today. Homer wrote "lyrics," you know... he wrote stuff to be spoken or sung. You can't do better than Homer, but if you try to set his work to music, you're in the deep end. Rhyme? Form? Meter? Holy s##t, Batman! That's the least of your problems!
I would classify lyricists as poets. Same for rappers. But what constitutes the difference between good poetry and bad poetry is definitely up to each individual.

Yep.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


   
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Big Lar
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Poetry is all about evoking an emotional response in the reader. For this reason alone, my vote is that lyricists are indeed poets.

Some of the oldest poems are from the Bible, the book of Psalms. They are a collection of ancient songs with only the lyrics remaining. And in my opinion, they are some of the best poetry in literature.


   
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notes_norton
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<...>
Rhyme, form and meter have been devalued in poetry for... what? Decades, certainly. <...>

Indeed. And sometimes I wonder how we draw the line between poetry and poetic prose.

When I hear something with no rhyme or meter that is classified as poetry, I might enjoy it a lot but still wonder if it is just beautiful prose. When I was in school (admittedly a long time ago) the term poetry was defined by rhythm (meter) and rhyme. I needed those iambs for meter and there were quite a few types defined (of which I've mostly forgotten). And even if the ends of the lines don't rhyme, they said that there should be internal rhymes.

But then definitions change.

When I was young, Rhythm and Blues (R&B) was defined by mostly I, IV and V7 chords, simple progressions, and painful lyrics. Bobby "Blue" Bland, B.B.King, Big Joe Turner and the like. Now what passes for R&B is something completely different.

And Funk/funky has gone through even more changes. When I was in school, the teacher for the stage band (jazz band) was an old big-band player. To him Funky was light and bouncy like the tune Mairzy Doats. When Lawrence Welk played a swing tune it was funky. Then Funky became slow 12/8 "dirty" blues - like Stormy Monday as performed by Bobby Bland. Later Funky became what the Brecker Brothers did in the 70s, then Michael Jackson's Disco/Rock and now quantized 4/4 stuff with a repetitive bass line.

Sometimes I wish they would invent new terms instead of changing the meanings of the old ones ;)

Back-on-topic. IMHO There is some great poetry in song lyrics and trite kitsch too.

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


   
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Crow
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IMHO There is some great poetry in song lyrics and trite kitsch too.

Theodore Sturgeon's axiom: 90 percent of everything is crud. (Crow's axiom: Sturgeon was an optimist.)

Notes, the parallles between poetry and music are interesting. In art music, conventions of form and harmony and melody went all to pieces in the 20th Century, just like conventions of rhyme and meter. But that didn't happen in pop music, not in the same sweeping way (although it did in jazz). Dissonance is still an acquired taste in pop. Forms are still based on verse-bridge-chorus. I don't listen to much current pop, but I bet the lyrics still rhyme more often than not. I think pop is a more conservative, limiting "style" overall.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


   
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fleaaaaaa
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I really think Dylan is poetry (or the closest songs come to it)

Masters of War is just amazing, every single line as is Blowin' in the wind.

"How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?"
"Seven!"
"No Dad it's a Rhetorical question"
"Rhetorical, eh? ..... Eight!"

together we stand, divided we fall..........


   
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Anonymous
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of course lyricists can be classed as poets. a lot of old "poets" were writing song lyrics, or at the very least were writing within song forms.


   
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Alan Green
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Yes, I would class lyricists as poets, but they're of a different kind; they're poets who write within the confines of the three or four beat bar rather than than poets who write around the constructs of normal speech.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
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