Lyrics or melody?

Listening to Bob Seger this afternoon from different sources with Mrs Bruss as arbiter. Asking why she likes a particular source she tells me that it makes her want to get up and dance. I kind of get that but I am sitting getting lost in the lyrics. I hear Bob S as a poet setting words to music. Mrs Bruss hears a driving beat that makes her want to dance. I’m not sure she is even noticing the lyrics.
So generally Lyrics first, or music for you?

Isn’t there already a thread on this? Lyrics or Melody down below.


There was a very similar topic a few weeks ago.

Which allowed me to point out that Richard Strauss wrote an opera about this very subject, ‘Capriccio’.

Somewhere ‘Alas Smith and Jones’ has their take on this very point for Eurovision….

Should have searched. Apologies.

…depends on my mood, somedays attention on listening to lyrics other days it is the beat/music.

The still open recent thread on virtually the same subject is here:

Perhaps if @Richard.Dane were to combine it would keep all answers together (I did post my own position in that one).

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Thread merged.

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I’m greedy I want them both. :grin:

One can intentionally contradict the other for artistic impact. The example that hit me recently was Born in the USA by dear old Bruce.

In the 80s I loathed the song since (based on hearing snippets where the lyrics were fairly indistinguishable) it seemed a song of typical 80s Reaganite jingoistic pomp. I based this, of course, on just hearing the music and, maybe, the chorus alone.

To my regret, I only very recently stepped past these assumptions and listened to the verses. What a difference. What a tragic anthem to a mis-sold patriotism. What a heart-breaking summary of a busted-flush of nationalistic pride. What an extraordinarily clever piece of songwriting.

Apparently, it was played by supporters of a recent occupant of the White House outside the hospital where he was being treated for Covid so it’s clearly still wrong-footing people after nearly 40 years.


Yes I always crack up when I hear it being promoted by a certain side of politics that basically have never bothered to listen to the lyrics. Fools. Think most people originally thought the same as you I know I did, it wasn’t until a few years later I realised it was saying the exact opposite. Wonderful piece of political pop, subtle and to the point.

We have a local song Streets of Your Town by The Go Between that’s been used to promote tourism in Newcastle (NSW) but the songs about domestic violence.

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The misappropriation of Born In The USA by Regan led to a high profile challence by Bruce - I would imagine he was very very cross!

Personally, I find both lyrics and melody are equally important but there are some lyricists - Neil Peart of Rush for example - who just continually ‘hit it on the head’. He even wrote one that consisted solely of anagrams.

One criticsm of such lyrics is often that it is, ‘Sixth Form English poetry’ standard. This really annoys me and is an attempt to sound superior. Why do some people have to make themselves feel better by trying to belittle others??

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It’s melody for me. Particularly when listening to orchestral music. Lol.

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It’s a meaningless glib point.

This for me has a melody inseparable from its lyric.


When the lyrics are an abstract melody.

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Love this infectious groovy tune coupled with super optimistic lyrics picks me up even on the darkest day. No doubt a touch of gospel roots for the intended effect.

This will be, an everlasting love
This will be, the one I’ve waited for
This will be, the first time anyone has loved me
Oh, oh

I’m so glad, you found me in time
And I’m so glad that you’ve rectified my mind
This will be, an everlasting love for me
Oh, oh

Loving you, is some kind of wonderful
Because you show me, just how much you care
You’ve given me the thrill of a lifetime
And made me believe you’ve got more thrills to spare, oh
This will be, an everlasting love, oh, yes it will now

You’ve brought a lot of sunshine into my life
You’ve filled me with happiness I never knew
You gave me more joy than I ever dreamed of
And no one, no one can take the place of you, ooh

This will be, you and me, yes siree, eternally
Hugging and squeezing and kissing and pleasing
Together, forever, through rain or whatever
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you and me
So long as I’m living, true love I’ll be giving
To you I’ll be serving 'cause you’re so deserving
Hey, you’re so deserving, you’re so deserving

Yeah, yeah, yeah, oh-oh
Love, love, love, love, love, love
Love, love, love, love
Love, love, love, love, love
Love, love, love

From now on, from now on
From now on, from now on
From now on, from now on
From now on, from now on
From now on, from now on
From now on, from now on

This is an interesting question which I was recently contemplating in a slightly different context. English is not my native language and unless I listen very carefully, I sometimes only understand 60-70% of a song with English lyrics. In some instances, I feel this language barrier is actually a blessing in disguise because I am pretty sure I would not listen to some of my favourite songs if I understood every single word immediately.
I am much more critical of songs in my native language and often change radio stations because of songs with terrible or trivial lyrics.

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Same here, and I am English


I suppose it could be said that understanding the lyrics isn’t necessarily important.
Many Opera lovers know the theme and flow of the story being told, but simply have no clue about the words as they’re sung. It doesn’t detract from enjoyment of the piece, at least not in my experience :slightly_smiling_face:


Most larger opera houses these days have surtitles running across the top to the stage.

(The predictive text here wanted to give me ‘surtaxes’ here instead of ‘surtitles’. Maybe the super-rich opera house patrons are being squeezed until their pips squeak!

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