The best lyrics writer around (to me) is Suzanne Vega. Brian Vander Ark of the Verve Pipe did a fabulous job on "Underneath." Eminem may be a horrible person, but "The Eminem Show" boasts some superb lyrics. Bad Religion manages occasionally, as does Henry Rollins.
i don't need to be a global citizen because I'm blessed by nationality i'm a member of a growing populace we enforce our popularity there are things that seem to pull us under and there are things that drag us down but there's a power and a vital presence thats lurking all around we've got the american jesus see him on the interstate we've got the american jesus he helped build the president's estate i feel sorry for the earth's population 'cuz so few live in the u.s.a. at least the foreigners can copy our morality they can visit but they cannot stay ... -- "American Jesus" from "Recipe for Hate," Bad Religion, 1993.
America! We love you! How many people are proud to be citizens of this beautiful country of ours? The stripes and the stars for the rights that men have died for to protect / The women and men who have broke their necks for the freedom of speech the United States government has sworn to uphold. Or so we're told. ... See the problem is I speak to suburban kids who otherwise would of never knew these words exist / whose moms probably never woulda never gave two squirts of piss, till I created so much motherfuckin' turbulence / straight out the tube, right into your living rooms I came, and kids flipped when they knew I was produced by Dre / That's all it took, and they were instantly hooked right in, and they connected with me too because I looked like them / that's why they put my lyrics up under the microscope, searchin with a fine tooth comb, it's like this rope / waitin to choke, tightening around my throat, watching me while I write this, like I don't like this / All I hear is: lyrics, lyrics, constant controversy, sponsors working around the clock, to try to stop my concerts early / surely hip hop was never a problem in Harlem only in Boston, after it bothered the fathers of daughters starting to blossom / so now I'm catching the flack from these activists when they raggin, actin like I'm the first rapper to smack a bitch or say faggot / shit, just look at me like I'm your closest pal, the posterchild, the motherfucking spokesman now for White America (chorus) So to the parents of America I am the derringer aimed at little Erica, to attack her character The ringleader of this circus of worthless pawns Sent to lead the march right up to the steps of Congress And piss on the lawns of the White House and to burn the flag and replace it with a Parental Advisory sticker To spit liquor in the face of this democracy of hypocrisy. Fuck you Ms. Cheny! Fuck you Tipper Gore! Fuck you with the free-est of speech this divided states of embarassment will allow me to have, Fuck you! I'm just kiddin America, you know I love you. -- "White America" from "The Eminem Show," Eminem, 2002.
Inhale resolve Exhale ambition Inhale all I need Exhale all I want Inhale love of life Exhale fear of death Inhale power Exhale force [Chorus] I have all I need I can live without I have all I need I can live without Inhale tolerance Exhale judgement Inhale what I am Exhale what I think I am [repeat Chorus] Don't hold me down [X3] Inhale fact Exhale assumption Inhale what I want to be Exhale how I want to be seen Don't hold me down [X3] [repeat Chorus] -- "Inhale Exhale" from "Come In and Burn," Rollins Band, 1997.
the Virgin Mary on a chain has hit me in the mouth again as we explore the carnal score of sacred and profane -- "It Makes Me Wonder" from "Songs In Red And Gray," Suzanne Vega, 2001.
the reproach in your daughter's most beautiful face made me wonder just how she could know of that something that happened between you and me so much more than a long time ago her mother, I can see, lives within her still cause she looked at me with her eyes though I had only just met her right then I feel that she peeled back my guilty disguise did I break the thread, or did you break the thread? well at this point we could ask who cares as for the promises broken and frayed it's 19 years late for repairs the gray pewter vase held the deep red rose, one piece of coral shone white, by the brass candlestick near your red velvet coat, is everything I can recall of one night will you please tell me why I remember these things after all of this time, I don't know I must have left all those feelings inside cause that year I had no courage to show was I the name you could never pronounce? or did I even figure at all? all of this happened before she was born did I shadow her young pencil marks on the wall still I am sure I was only but one of a number who darkened that door of your home and your hearth and your family and wife who'd been darkened so often before oh, the red leaf looks to the hard gray stone to each other, they know what they mean somewhere, their future is still yet to come in ways that are yet as of now unforseen -- "Song In Red and Gray" from "Songs In Red and Gray," Suzanne Vega, 2001.
But don't worry, mom, I met him in a restaurant And all this time I've been getting to know him he's got an ex-wife in Pasadena, and sometimes she's a mess To deal with, but mostly we've been living here Uninjured ... There's a silence, and she says, "Listen here young lady. All that matters is What makes you happy, but you leave this house knowing my opinion won't Make you love me if you don't care to." But mom, I'm sending you this photograph, I swear This one is going to last and all those other bastards Were only practice! I feel the sun on my back ... I smell the earth in my skin ... I see the sky above me like a full recovery ... She said "Listen here young lady, All that matters is what makes you happy, But you leave this house knowing my opinion. It won't make a difference if you're not ready." -- "What Makes You Happy" from "whitechocolatespaceegg" by Liz Phair
I'm not a coward, I've just never been tested I'd like to think that if I was, I would pass Look at the tested and think there but for the grace go I Might be a coward, I'm afraid of what I might find out. -- "The Impression That I Get" from "Let's Face It" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
Autumn air it carries me there Less than an hour to go Six hundred miles an hour And still it feels so slow I'm trying to get back to Burlington To a square in the center of town To a spot on a wooden table Where her feet didn't reach the ground And when she kisses me it tasted like cinnamon And her skin smells of cider and rose And when she looked at me we both got quiet And my heart beats so hard we were in so close Once for such a beautiful while that still makes me smile And she called me her ugly American And I would call her my Canadian flower And I don't think that we'll ever get there again We had such power And she called me her ugly American And I'll remember my Canadian flower Especially when the fall comes to Burlington We were in so close -- "Canadian Rose" from "Straight On Till Morning" by Blues Traveler.
It's the crack of noon And I sit here watching you sleeping I only wish that I could remember your name But I know it's written on a matchbook somewhere And maybe I'll find it, and maybe I'll care Or maybe your'll fix me with one of those stares And put up a fight So when you awake I admit I'm relieved When you flash me a smile like a diamond And just for a moment I almost believe In love at first light I propose a breakfast of coffee and aspirin You laugh, suggesting a raw egg or two But oh was it ever so good being bad? Like a couple of vampires, deliciously mad Saying this is the best blood that we've ever had So we drank it all night And if we untangle the webs that we weave Then mayber there's room for more laughter 'Cos just for a moment I almost believe In love at first light Feeling cold You put a robe 'round my shoudlers Smile and pull one of your favourite books form my shelf Let's opens the curtains and let out the dark And if the sun doesn't melt us and there's still a spark And we do something human like walk in the park The spark could ignite So maybe I'm moonstruck, or maybe naive But I know there's a God and a Devil So maybe I'm crazy enough to believe In love at first light -- "Love at First Light" from "Volume 4" by Joe Jackson.
Two weeks away it feels like the world should've changed But I'm home now And things still look the same I think I'll leave it to tomorrow to unpack Try to forget for one more night That I'm back in my flat on the road Where the cars never stop going through the night To a life where I can't watch the sunset I don't have time I don't have time -- "Sand In My Shoes" from "Life For Rent" by Dido.