Lyric Thursday: The Pretender

I’m probably showing my age by posting these lyrics, but I have to say that this is one of my favorite songs ever, and a large part of the reason I love it so much is because words literally send a shiver down my spine. To me, it’s a classic example of a song with lyrics so profound and beautifully composed, it can stand with the very best poetry, with or without music.

The Pretender
copyright 1976, by Jackson Browne

I’m going to rent myself a house
In the shade of the freeway
I’m going to pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I’ll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Say it again

I want to know what became of the changes
We waited for love to bring
Were they only the fitful dreams
Of some greater awakening
I’ve been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it’s the wink of an eye
And when the morning light comes streaming in
You’ll get up and do it again

Caught between the longing for love
And the struggle for the legal tender
Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring
And the junk man pounds his fender
Where the veterans dream of the fight
Fast asleep at the traffic light
And the children solemnly wait
For the ice cream vendor
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the Pretender
He knows that all his hopes and dreams
Begin and end there

Ah the laughter of the lovers
As they run through the night
Leaving nothing for the others
But to choose off and fight
And tear at the world with all their might
While the ships bearing their dreams
Sail out of sight

I’m going to find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we’ll fill in the missing colors
In each other’s paint-by-number dreams
And then we’ll put out dark glasses on
And we’ll make love until our strength is gone
And when the morning light comes streaming in
We’ll get up and do it again
Get it up again

I’m going to be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
Though true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender

Lyric Thurs–er, Saturday: B Side of Life by Timbuk 3

Okay, I really intended to do this on Thursday, but the problem is, these lyrics seem to exist nowhere on the Internet. Which is kind of amazing, if you think about it. I thought EVERY song in the universe had lyrics posted on the ‘Net.

Anyway, I may be breaking some sort of rule, but I don’t care. I just love the poignant, incisive way this song takes on both the up and downsides of being rich and famous. Not that I ever expect to be either, but maybe that’s why I like it so much. I, too, am happy enough on the B side of life!

The B Side of Life
by Pat and Barbara MacDonald

Grandma, do you recognize me?
Course you don’t, I’m nobody,
I have no money, I have no name,
I tear the tickets at the Hall of Fame.

I buy my dinner at the 7-11,
Eat it in the kitchen while I watch TV.
I like my free time and I love my wife.
You’ll find my number on the B side of life.

Once I got lucky, I had a band.
We had a song, it got to number three.
Made lots of money, made lots of friends,
Had lots of pretty people hanging ‘round me.
Now all I want is a place to hide,
To feel safe from the chaos outside.
A cold refrigerator, a warm bed,
A place where no one will stick a gun to my head.

I buy my dinner at the 7-11,
Eat it in the kitchen while I watch TV.
I like my free time and I love my wife.
We’re happy living on the B side of life

We had the key to the city,
But the rooms it did unlock,
Were full of overpriced portraits,
Engaged in cheap small talk.

So turn out the lights, turn up the radio.
Don’t know the singer, but I love that song
I know that I’m no Barishnikov, baby
But I want to dance with you all night long.

I’ll buy you dinner at the 7-11,
We’ll eat it in the kitchen while we watch TV.
Tonight’s my birthday, let’s have a party,
I’m thirty with a bullet on the B side of life

The Return of Lyric Thursday: Jane by Barenaked Ladies

I used to do a feature in bygone days that I called Lyric Thursday. I stopped doing it because…well, because I got lazy.

But a few minutes ago, the song that tangentially inspired large parts of the plot and conflict in Sinfully Ever After, the third of the novellas in Behind the Red Door, and I felt the sudden need to bring it back. So, for your lyric-reading pleasure today, I present Jane by Barenaked Ladies.

by Stephen Duffy/Steven Page
copyright 1994 Sire Records Company

The girl works at the store, sweet Jane St. Clair
Was dazzled by her smile while I shopped there
It wasn’t long before I lived with her
I sang her songs while she dried my hair

Jane, divided, but I can’t decide which side I’m on
Jane decided only cowards stay, while traitors run
Jane, Jane

I’d bring her gold and frankincense and myrrh
She thought that I was making fun of her
She made me feel I was fourteen again
That’s why she thinks it’s cooler if we’d just stay friends
Jane doesn’t think a man could ever be faithful
Jane isn’t giving me a chance to be shameful

Jane, Jane

I wrote a letter, she should have got it yesterday
That life could be better by being together
Is what I cannot explain to Jane

The girl works at the store, sweet Jane St. Clair
Still dazzled by her smile while I shoplift there
No promises as vague as Heaven
No Juliana next to my Evan
Jane, desired by the people at her school and work
Jane is tired, ’cause every man becomes a lovesick jerk

Jane, Jane