Friday, January 05, 2007

"Lyrics Included"

I've been putting some of my old cassette tapes onto the computer since I got my MP3 player, and the other day I came across some of my Steve Taylor tapes.

It's funny what can lead you to a new singer or group that ends up inspiring you. In the case of Steve Taylor, a friend of mine went into a Christian book store looking for a birthday present for me. She saw his tape "On The Fritz," and though she'd never heard of him, the big "Lyrics Enclosed" label across the bottom caught her attention. So she bought it. We both fell in love with his music the first time we heard it, and proceeded to collect his other albums. The year was 1985. Two years later, he came out with what I consider his best album, "I Predict 1990."

Now, as I pulled this tape out of its case the other day, I thought, "Surely these songs are really dated." I played the tape, and couldn't help but be amazed at how relevant his songs still are, twenty years later! Take these lyrics, from the song "Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel A Lot Better" about modern universities:

Took a class/ Big fun/ Modern ethics 101/ First day/ learn why/ Ethics really
apply/ Prof says, "One trait/ Takes us to a higher state/ Drug free,
pure bliss/ Get
your pencils, copy this:
"Life unwinds like a cheap
sweater/ But since I gave
up hope I feel a lot better/ And the truth gets
blurred like a wet letter/ But since
I gave up hope I feel a lot better"

Now, Taylor was known for writing controversial songs, but they're also thinking songs, meaning you come away really thinking about what he wrote. I like that. He also has a great sense of humor. Like in the song "I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good" (Yes, you read that correctly). It's pointing out the hypocrisy of people who claim to be pro-life yet they blow up clinics and kill people. In the song, a psychotic ice cream man blows up a clinic, then confronts a preacher in the bridge of the song:

Preacher on the corner, calling it a crime/ Says the end don't justify the
means anytime.

I stood up on my van, I yelled "Excuse me, sir! Ain't nothing wrong in
this country that a few plastic explosives won't cure!"

And that line was, of course, yelled. It still makes me laugh.

So, I've rambled on enough. I'm just having great fun re-discovering some of my old favorites. See the article I linked to above if you'd like to find out more about Steve Taylor. I understand his songs are on iTunes also, if you're interested.

What's an artist or album you haven't listened to in a while that you'd like to revisit?

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