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Old 01-04-2005, 02:39 PM   #1
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5 best American songwriters of the rock and roll era to today

Who do you think the strongest American songwriters have been since the birth of rock and roll? These don't have to be rock singers per se, but rather those raised during and influenced by rock and its cultural significance. I really don't have an order for mine, except that I'm sure Dylan is the most widely respected of the lot. Also, feel free to post sample lyrics by each artist.

Tom Waits

Well the smart money's on Harlow and the moon is in the street
And the shadow boys are breaking all the laws
And you're east of East Saint Louis and the wind is making speeches
And the rain sounds like a round of applause
And Napoleon is weeping in a carnival saloon
His invisible fiancee's in the mirror
And the band is going home, it's raining hammers, it's raining nails
And it's true there's nothing left for him down here

And it's time time time, and it's time time time
And it's time time time that you love
And it's time time time

And they all pretend they're orphans and their memory's like a train
You can see it getting smaller as it pulls away
And the things you can't remember tell the things you can't forget
That history puts a saint in every dream

Well she said she'd stick around until the bandages came off
But these mama's boys just don't know when to quit
And Mathilda asks the sailors "Are those dreams or are those prayers?"
So close your eyes, son, and this won't hurt a bit

Oh it's time time time, and it's time time time
And it's time time time that you love
And it's time time time

Well things are pretty lousy for a calendar girl
The boys just dive right off the cars and splash into the street
And when they're on a roll she pulls a razor from her boot
And a thousand pigeons fall around her feet
So put a candle in the window and a kiss upon his lips
As the dish outside the window fills with rain
Just like a stranger with the weeds in your heart
And pay the fiddler off 'til I come back again

Oh it's time time time, and it's time time time
And it's time time time that you love
And it's time time time
And it's time time time, and it's time time time
And it's time time time that you love
And it's time time time

Bruce Springsteen
"Racing in the Street"

I got a '69 Chevy with a 396
Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor
She's waiting tonight down in the parking lot
Outside the 7-11 store
Me and my partner Sonny built her straight out of scratch
And he rides with me from town to town
We only run for the money, got no strings attached
we shut 'em up and we then we shut 'em down

Tonight, tonight the strip's just right
I wanna blow 'em off in my first heat
Summer's here and the time is right
For racin' in the street

We take all the action we can meet
And we cover all the northeast states
When the strip runs down we run 'em in the street
From the fire roads to the interestate
Some guys just stop living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home and wash up
And go racin' in the street

Tonight, tonight the strip's just right
I wanna blow 'em all out of their seats
Calling out around the world, we're going racin' in the street

I met her on the strip three years ago
In a Camaro with this dude from L.A.
I blew that Camaro off my back
And drove that little girl away
But now there's wrinkles around my baby's eyes
And she cries herself to sleep at night
When I come home the house is dark
She sighs, "baby did you make it all right?"
She sits on the porch of her daddy's house
But all her pretty dreams are torn
She stares off alone into the night
With the eyes of one who hates for just being born
For all the shut-down strangers and hot-rod angels
Rumbling through this promised land
Tonight my baby and me we're gonna ride to the sea
And wash these sins off our hands

Tonight, tonight the highway's bright
Out of our way mister you best keep
'Cause summer's here and the time is right
For racin' in the street

Warren Zevon

hear Mariachi static on my radio
And the tubes they glow in the dark
And I'm there with her in Ensenada
And I'm here in Echo Park

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I'm sittin' here playing solitaire
With my pearl-handled deck
The county won't give me no more methadone
And they cut off your welfare check

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I pawned my Smith Corona
And I went to meet my man
He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
By the Pioneer chicken stand

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Bob Dylan
"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying.

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool's gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proves to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.

Temptation's page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover
That you'd just be
One more person crying.

So don't fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It's alright, Ma, I'm only sighing.

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don't hate nothing at all
Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have
To stand naked.

An' though the rules of the road have been lodged
It's only people's games that you got to dodge
And it's alright, Ma, I can make it.

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not fergit
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him.

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it's alright, Ma, if I can't please him.

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares Propaganda, all is phony.

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer's pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death's honesty
Won't fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes
Must get lonely.

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They'd probably put my head in a guillotine
But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only.

Paul Simon
"The Boxer"

I am just a poor boy
Though my story's seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station running scared
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places only they would know
Lie la lie ...

Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there
Lie la lie ...

Then I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Going home
Where the New York City winters aren't bleeding me
Bleeding me, going home
In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving"
But the fighter still remains
Lie la lie ...

Also, honorable mentions to Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Tom Petty, Michael Stipe, and Eddie Vedder

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Old 01-04-2005, 05:15 PM   #2
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Jeff Tweedy

Hell is Chrome

When the devil came
He was not red
He was chrome and he said

Come with me
You must go
So I went
Where everything was clean
So precise and towering

I was welcomed
With open arms
I received so much help in every way
I felt no fear
I felt no fear

The air was crisp
Like sunny late winter days
A springtime yawning high in the haze
And I felt like I belonged
Come with me

Come with me
Come with me
Come with me
Come with me
Come with me
Come with me
Come with me

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Old 01-04-2005, 05:20 PM   #3
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Gram Parsons. Great singer and wrote some great songs as well.

"And I saw my devil
And I saw my deep blue sea
And I thought about a calico bonnet
From Cheyenne to Tennessee"
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Old 01-04-2005, 05:31 PM   #4
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I thought about including Tweedy but decided on Simon at the last moment. I've been exposed to a lot of Gram Parsons at work lately.
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Old 01-04-2005, 05:34 PM   #5
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Really? Well you can have too much of a good thing I suppose!
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Old 01-04-2005, 11:11 PM   #6
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Kurt Cobain - All Apologies
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Old 01-04-2005, 11:29 PM   #7
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Ryan Adams
Gram Parsons
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Old 01-05-2005, 03:01 AM   #8
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bruce springsteen.
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Old 01-05-2005, 04:56 AM   #9
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Springsteen IS America to me.
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Old 01-05-2005, 05:19 AM   #10
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bruce springsteen
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Old 01-05-2005, 06:56 AM   #11
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the boss ! ! ! i really love his first album along with many other!

bob dylan

ummm......the dude from mars volta, maybe anthony kiedes?? i dont really know, ... ive never felt america was very strong in the rock songwriting category...but then again i always forget someone vital to all my lists....
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Old 01-05-2005, 11:18 AM   #12
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Paul Westerberg, if not Michael Stipe.
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Old 01-05-2005, 11:44 AM   #13
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Bruce Springsteen
Kurt Cobain
bob Dylan
Michael Stipe
Tori Amos
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Old 01-05-2005, 12:32 PM   #14
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"Like a rolling stone"

He wrote that song at the age of 24...

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Old 01-05-2005, 01:31 PM   #15
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Nobody has mentioned Lou Reed yet!?

Lou Reed
"Street Hassle"


Waltzing matilda whipped out her wallet
The sexy boy smiled in dismay
She took out four twenties ’cause she liked round figures
Everybody’s a queen for a day
Oh, babe, I’m on fire and you know how I admire your -
- body why don’t we slip away
Although I’m sure you’re certain, it’s a rarity me flirtin’
Sha-la-la-la, this way

Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Hey, baby, come on, let’s slip away

Luscious and gorgeous, oh what a hunk of muscle
Call out the national guard
She creamed in her jeans as he picked up her means
From off of the formica topped bar
And cascading slowly, he lifted her wholly
And boldly out of this world
And despite people’s derision
Proved to be more than diversion
Sha-la-la-la, later on

And then sha-la-la-la-la, he entered her slowly
And showed her where he was coming from
And then sha-la-la-la-la, he made love to her gently
It was like she’d never ever come
And then sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
When the sun rose and he made to leave
You know, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Neither one regretted a thing


Hey, that cunt’s not breathing
I think she’s had too much
Of something or other, hey, man, you know what I mean
I don’t mean to scare you
But you’re the one who came here
And you’re the one who’s gotta take her when you leave
I’m not being smart
Or trying to be cold on my part
And I’m not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve
But you know people get all emotional
And sometimes, man, they just don’t act rational
They think they’re just on tv

Sha-la-la-la, man
Why don’t you just slip her away

You know, I’m glad that we met man
It really was nice talking
And I really wish that there was a little more time to speak
But you know it could be a hassle
Trying to explain myself to a police officer
About how it was that your old lady got herself stiffed
And it’s not like we could help
But there was nothing no one could do
And if there was, man, you know I would have been the first
But when someone turns that blue
Well, it’s a universal truth
And then you just know that bitch will never fuck again
By the way, that’s really some bad shit
That you came to our place with
But you ought to be more careful around the little girls
It’s either the best or it’s the worst
And since I don’t have to choose
I guess I won’t and I know this ain’t no way to treat a guest
But why don’t you grab your old lady by the feet
And just lay her out on the darkened street
And by morning, she’s just another hit and run
You know, some people got no choice
And they can’t never find a voice
To talk with that they can even call their own
So the first thing that they see
That allows them the right to be
Why they follow it, you know, it’s called bad luck


Believe me, that it’s just a lie
That’s what she tells her friends
’cause the real song, the real song
Which she won’t even admit to herself
Beat narrow heart, the song lots of people know
It’s a painful song
It’ll only say the truth
It lasts for sad songs
Penny for a wish
A wish won’t make you a soldier
A pretty kiss or a pretty face
Can’t have it’s way
The tramps like us who were born to play

Love is gone away
And there’s no one here now
And there’s nothing left to say
But, oh, how I miss him, baby
Oh, baby, come on and slip away
Come on, baby, why don’t you slip away

Love is gone away
Took the rings off my fingers
And there’s nothing left to say
But, oh how, oh how I need him, baby
Come on, baby, I need you baby
Oh, please don’t slip away
I need your loving so bad, babe
Please don’t slip away

As for the other four, Bruce Springsteen certainly belongs there.

Bruce Springsteen
"The River"

I come from down in the valley
where mister when you're young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in high school
when she was just seventeen
We'd ride out of that valley down to where the fields were green

We'd go down to the river
And into the river we'd dive
Oh down to the river we'd ride

Then I got Mary pregnant
and man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse
and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles no walk down the aisle
No flowers no wedding dress

That night we went down to the river
And into the river we'd dive
Oh down to the river we did ride

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don't remember
Mary acts like she don't care

But I remember us riding in my brother's car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I'd lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse
that sends me down to the river
though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight
Down to the river
my baby and I
Oh down to the river we ride

And Dylan of course.

Bob Dylan
"Tangled Up In Blue"

Early one mornin' the sun was shinin',
I was layin' in bed
Wond'rin' if she'd changed at all
If her hair was still red.
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama's homemade dress
Papa's bankbook wasn't big enough.
And I was standin' on the side of the road
Rain fallin' on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through,
Tangled up in blue.

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess,
But I used a little too much force.
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best.
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin' away
I heard her say over my shoulder,
"We'll meet again someday on the avenue,"
Tangled up in blue.

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell.
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin' for a while on a fishin' boat
Right outside of Delacroix.
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind,
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind, and I just grew
Tangled up in blue.

She was workin' in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer,
I just kept lookin' at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear.
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I's just about to do the same,
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, "Don't I know your name?"
I muttered somethin' underneath my breath,
She studied the lines on my face.
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe,
Tangled up in blue.

She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
"I thought you'd never say hello," she said
"You look like the silent type."
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century.
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin' coal
Pourin' off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you,
Tangled up in blue.

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs,
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air.
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died.
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside.
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn,
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin' on like a bird that flew,
Tangled up in blue.

So now I'm goin' back again,
I got to get to her somehow.
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now.
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter's wives.
Don't know how it all got started,
I don't know what they're doin' with their lives.
But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue.

You may fight about the other two.

C ya!


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