Friday, July 15, 2011

Song lyrics speak to me...

I'm the quiet type who takes it all in.  Song lyrics are no exception.  Listening to music in the car or working on school projects with my iPod, I love figuring out what singer-songwriters are really trying to eloquently, so passionately, so personally.  To me lyrics often express ideas I cannot, will not, or haven't yet named.  They speak to memories of feast and members...and overcoming fears.  To faith and to love.

With my parents last week, I watched a TV special on how Simon & Garfunkel constructed the album "Bridge Over Troubled Water".  Like old friends from my childhood, their songs were revealed one by one..."America," "Only Living Boy in New York," "Cecilia."  Then, "Old Friends/Bookends" particularly poignant lyrics again drew me in; my mom lovingly connected them to her father she so misses.  I couldn't help but marvel at their masterful writing while listening now as a grown-up.  The unmistakable imagery.  The beautiful painting these words produce.       

Old Friends/Bookends lyrics

Old friends
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
On the high shoes
Of the old friends
Old friends
Winter companions
The old men
Lost in their overcoats
Waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city
Sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends
Can you imagine us
Years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy
Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear
Time it was,
And what a time it was
It was . . .
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago . . . it must be . . .
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

If you don't know it already, give this song a listen.  The music perfectly complements the writing, creating a well rounded, deep experience; a complete picture of a moment in time captured magnificently.  As writers, isn't that what we're all about---the complete experience?  Studying lyrics can take our work to the next level.

Now, teacher-writers, how could a piece like this glimmer in your writing workshop?  What lyrics speak to you?

Write on,


  1. It speaks to me because those are my old friends it's describing. I just had dinner with my best friend from 7th grade last week. She was also my maid of honor & I hers a few months later. We share good memories together. I wonder if I could play this song to challenge students to find a song for themselves and their friends. What would it be today for 13 year olds? Thanks for the reminder about the song. Lovely post of the past, for the future!

  2. Thanks for reminding me about this lovely little song. This album was one of my first -- 1967 I think. At one time, I had all these lyrics memorized. This song brings back sweet memories.


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