Jethro Tull

Moths

This song is from the album “Heavy Horses” released at the end of seventies, with a sharp guitar rhythm and magical lyrics. The lyrics are pure poetry: “And a new breeze chattered in its May-bud tenderness/ Sending water-lilies sailing as she turned to get undressed/ And the long night awakened and we soared on powdered wings/ Circling our tomorrows in the wary month of spring”, clearly highlight Ian Anderson’s song writing power. The raspy voice, casual expression, wine sipping and his inevitable flute add a casual charm to the “Moths” music video. This is a song which carries you away with its simple music style and powerful lyrics – “Life’s too long (as the Lemming said)/ As the candle burned and the moths were wed/ And we’ll burn together as the wick grows higher/ Before the candle’s dead”.

--------

Grateful Dead

Ripple

From the album titled American Beauty, released in 1970, considered one of the classics in rock history. The country folk style song was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. Hunter was a non-performing member of the band who wrote many of the Grateful Dead’s songs. His lyrics are very poetic paving way for varied interpretation. Sample this: “If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine/And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung, / Would you hear my voice come thru the music, / Would you hold it near as it were your own?” Ripple is a simple, beautiful song with a pleasing guitar rhythm and lyrics taking you to the height of poetic indulgence. This haunting rhythm and graceful poetry lingers even after the song is over.

-----------

The Eagles

Hotel California

This is the most popular song of the Eagles, as well as their most loved and misunderstood song. It was released in 1977, and the writing credits were shared by Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. This song was featured in an album with the same title and it went on to win the Record of the Year Grammy in 1978. The abstract nature of the lyrics led to many interpretations even weird ones such as Satan worship, cannibalism and drugs, but Don Henley simply called it the “interpretation of high life in Los Angeles”. However this so-called “high life” in L.A. inevitably included drugs. This is a song which grows on you with the rhythm of Don Henley’s drums, and the enthralling guitars. The final lead guitar piece by Don Felder and Joe Walsh entrance and the last lines are haunting – “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

-------

Bob Dylan

Every Grain of Sand

If there is some one who sings poetry, it is Bob Dylan. This song was featured in an album titled “Shot of Love” released in 1981, highly influenced by his “born again Christian phase” with many references to the Bible and Jesus. This album got a mixed review from critics but this particular song struck a chord with most of them, even by Paul Nelson of Rolling Stone who lambasted the album but singled out this song because of the power of the lyrics. “I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame/And every time I pass that way I always hear my name/Then onward in my journey I come to understand/That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand”. In Dylan’s rustic vocals, the words are like fire, the lyrics kindles, the poetry shines, the words linger – “I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea/Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me/I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man/Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand”.

-------

Bruce Springsteen

Brilliant Disguise

This song of “The Boss” from the 1987 album, Tunnel of Love is a delight to listen . This album dealt with the difficulty of commitment in marriage, love gone wrong – a sort of ’”turning inward” album. This song particularly sparkles with lyrical beauty, and bemoans the desperation of trying to understand the other even without knowing oneself – “I am just a lonely pilgrim I walk this world in wealth/ I want to know if it’s you I don’t trust/ cause I am damn sure I don’t trust myself”. The lines with sheer poetic force touch you, as he question the pretensions of his married life – “Well I’ve tried so hard baby but just can’t see/ What a woman like you is doing with me/ So tell me what I see when I look in your eyes/ Is that you baby or a brilliant disguise. This song reached 5th position in Billboard Top 100. The video portrays Bruce Springsteen sitting in the edge of a chair and playing his guitar and singing in a black and white gloom. This song which everyone can relate to in some fleeting moment of his or her life.

-------------

Those that almost made it:

Dire Straits: Sultan of Swing:

Bruce Springsteen: Two Faces

Bob Dylan: Blowing in the Wind

Eric Clapton: Tears in Heaven

Paul Simon: Graceland

(T. Prem Anand is a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Veltech Multitech Dr. SR and Dr. RR Engineering College, Avadi, Chennai)