Slice Of Life Story Challenge March 4 -When Lyrics Elude Us

Fragments of Song and Lingering Lyrics

I was viewing a You Tube video of a concert recently held on the forecourt of the iconic Sydney Opera House and at one stage the camera panned out from the stage and onto the vast audience assembled in that great open space. 

Breasting the stage, the audience smiled, waved and danced their way through a collection of treasured songs from Crowded House. They sang every word of every song loudly and proudly. Judging by their appearance, their ages seemed to range from 18-35 years old. Anyway, they were younger than me, without doubt.

As I watched, my thoughts turned to a time in my life when I truly believed I knew the words too- all the words, to all the songs. Well, not all the songs, but certainly all the popular songs of the era. I took quite some pride in being able to recall lyrics with such consummate ease. It seemed to come so naturally. I listened. I remembered. I recalled.

Many of us possess this skill at some point in our lives. It is fleeting though. At some point it vanishes. It slips away as other matters take precedence in our lives. It is like trying to hold oil in the palm of your hand. It is a mercurial wonder and while you have it, it is a gift quite wonderful. Total recall…

These days I am reduced to watching crowds at concerts. Attendees in the momentary zone of total lyric recall. Then, I remember how I too once resided there. 

Their time of reckoning will come just as mine did. The words will mysteriously elude them and they will face the humiliation of having to hum, or take a wild word guess.  Mondagreens will occur with increasing regularity. When you reach this stage, you are increasingly more likely to sing things like the following:

 ‘Every time you go away you take a piece of meat with you.’ 
Paul Young’s Actual lyric: ‘Every time you go away you take a piece of me with you.’ 

Worse still, you might even find yourself uttering indecipherable gibberish in the place where real words once shone brightly. As certain as the sun fades each day, you reach a time in your life where gaps emerge in lyric world.

These days I take consolation in lyric grabs. Flashes and fragments of recall that remind me of my former status as a Lyric Lord. Here’s one now for you to ponder.

‘She walked through the corn,
Leading down to the river. 
Her hair shone like gold in the hot morning sun.
She took all the love that poor boy could give her
And left me to die like the fox on the run.’

and another...

Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six-foot-four and full of muscles
I said, 'Do you speak-a my language?'
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich


  1. I loved this post! I have always been fascinated with how I can still sing along to those songs from my late teens and early 20's. I don't know where those lyrics are stored but when the music starts, the words are right there.

    1. Molly, it's wonderful to ponder where these lyrics rise up from and the connections they have to our earlier lives. It's just great that they so willingly rejoin us. Thanks for the kind response.

  2. I wonder, given the way kids listen to songs and not albums and on mobile devices while texting and doing other things, if the sinking in of lyrics will be part of this culture's remembrance, as it is for us. I still have lyrics (Led Zep, Aerosmith, Beatles) embedded deep inside my brain, from hours of listening and reading album notes. I'd spend hours, just listening to sides of records. I didn't intent to remember, but I often did. I don't see my sons doing that. They do love music, but the older ones listen to Spotify, which provides a different kind of listening experience. Interesting.
    By the way, Crowded House (and offshoots of the two Finn brother bands) were always a favorite of mine. Rich, lyrical songwriting.

    1. you raise some interesting musical musings Kevin. I too wonder if our visually rich musical past has given us a different cultural appreciation. The reading of album covers and the continual browsing of lyrics were so embedded in our musical experiences, that it set us up to retain the words of our musical heroes. Like you I have always followed the Brothers Finn in all their configurations. My musical catalogue stands as testimony to that. Their ability with lyrics is legendary. Had the rare treat of seeing them play two nights in a row while living in NYC. Thanks for prompting my musical memories Kevin. Always a pleasure to have you come visit.

  3. Being a musician myself, I loved reading this post. I, too, have long surpassed the 18-35 age range of that crowd...but what's funny is my lyric memorization never moved beyond the "take a piece of meat" level of accuracy. For some reason, I've always been content with sort of knowing some of the lyrics to most songs I like (unless I had to sing lead in the band, then I HAD to know them). I suppose mondegreens have been my way of musical life...who knew! Great word, by the way! Thanks for sharing this ;)

    1. Thanks Landon. I too have had my time as a singer in a band. The learning of lyrics was a non negotiable back then. No digital read outs. Thanks for dropping by.

  4. Even when I was young and could hear well and remember well too, I still got a lot of Led Zep lyrics wrong. I loved and appreciated the lightness of this post. I laughed a bit and that felt good. (perhaps there is a lyric waiting in there too).

    1. Mary Ann, if you had a laugh at these recollections of lyrics, I am well pleased.

  5. This certainly hits home. How good it is to know I am not alone. It is amazing what our son remembers... how does he do that? He is better with lyrics than I ever was. And you know, many young people today like all the "old songs" as much or more than we did. Thanks for a smile today.

    1. I'm pleased my ponderings brought on a smile. Good music has a way of crossing generations with its appeal.


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