Is it me?

By Anita Jaynes on 8 March, 2024

TBE Partnership with Thrings

Over the years, John Davies’ Is it me? has become a favourite of TBE for its wit and camerarderie. This time, John is waxing lyrical, again…

‘Fifteen minutes with you, Oh I wouldn’t say no. People said that you were easily led, and they were half right’. 

That’s a couple of lines taken from ‘Reel Around the Fountain’, a song from the 1980s by The Smiths and those lines have always amused me. That last bit is clever and witty – and we immediately know what young Morrissey is telling us. It’s almost a throwaway line but it has a good bit of depth to it. 

Roll forward a few decades and I was recently tuning in to The Grammy awards. I didn’t watch it all, but I dipped in and out and it was interesting for a number of reasons. I love music. All kinds of music – rock, pop, Motown, classical, hymns, indie, (not jazz) and even, dare I say it a bit of dance music (yes kids, I said it, dance music!). 

But the thing I like the most are, probably, the lyrics. I guess I’m turning into what the former England rugby captain, Will Carling, once described as an ‘old fart’ because I wasn’t blown away by some/most of the Grammy winners. I’m in my fifties now, and bordering on being permanently grumpy, so I’m not afraid to say that lots of the songs just sounded like noise to me and the lyrics were a little bit…meh. 

It got me thinking about how the words in songs can really get under your skin. The right song lyric at the right time can be a pair of open arms, a helping hand, a rescue, a celebratory friend, an eye opener and even a conscience. Some song lyrics walk with you, others push you away, good lyrics always have an impact. The Grammy winners are all incredible artists, but I missed a bit of Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Tracy Chapman, PJ Harvey. 

As I say I’m getting older and less open to musical change…

That said, even as I write this, I realise that I’m compromised and wrong. I don’t think the song lyrics ‘Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind’, ‘Don’t you ever, don’t you ever, stop being dandy, showing me you’re handsome’ or even ‘I said do you speak-a my language, he just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich’ would win any awards for prose, but they all make me smile – and perhaps that’s the point!

I suspect I really need to get over myself and try a bit harder to be a little more open to ‘new tunes’ and new lyrics but it’s hard when the tunes and lyrics written in my generation are the best! Is it fair or even possible to compare Lennon or McCartney, with Jay-Z or Drake or Taylor Swift with Kate Bush – I guess they’re just all incredible songsmiths. So, what do you think – are you a bit stuck like me, or are you happy to embrace K-Pop?

To end though I keep coming back to those clever and witty lyrics that I’m so fond of. How about this one from the Travelling Wilburys – very few words but they tell quite the story in my mind – ”She wrote a long letter, on a short piece of paper’. 

John Davies,

Senior Corporate Partner, Thrings


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