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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Tuesday, October 14

Complicated Song Lyrics III - The Bergmans

I don’t need to go back sixty or seventy years to find great song lyrics. It’s just that there are more great ones back then than there are now. The best of the present would be by Stephen Sondheim (but he’s pretty much writing for Broadway and that’s a whole different matter). Of those writing for movies or for singers like Barbra Streisand, the runaway best are Alan and Marilyn Bergman. In case anyone is interested, I already blogged about some lyrics they wrote, “What Are you Doing the Rest of Your Life,” in which I explain why I think it’s the best set of lyrics ever written. You can find it at 2/9/2012, with the title, “Bob Dylan vs The Bergmans.” But now I’d like to look at several more by them, which could be considered close seconds to “What Are You Doing.”

I first heard Michael Feinstein sing “Where Do You Start?” on some talk show. Can’t remember which. I was so moved by the words that I went looking for other versions of this song. And I found a bunch, most notably one by Tony Bennett and the best of all by Barbra on her album called What Matters Most, dedicated to the songs of the Bergmans. When I heard Feinstein sing it, I could only see it as a breakup between two gay lovers, but I now know it applies to anyone who loses a loved one, for whatever reason, and how painful that breakup is and how, very likely, the one speaking will always hold a piece of the partner somewhere in his/her heart. Intricate rhyming, lovely images, beautiful song.

"Where do you start?
How do you separate the present from the past?
How do you deal with all the things you thought would last,
That didn’t last?
With bits of mem’ries scattered here and there,
I look around and don’t know where to start.

Which books are yours?
Which tapes and dreams belong to you and which are mine?
Our lives are tangled like the branches of a vine
That intertwine.
So many habits that we’ll have to break
And yesterdays we’ll have to take apart.

One day there’ll be a song or something in the air again,
To catch me by surprise and you’ll be there again.
A moment in
What might have been.

Where do you start?
Do you allow yourself a little time to cry,
Or do you close your eyes and kiss it all goodbye?
I guess you try.
And though I don’t know where
And don’t know when
I’ll find myself in love again,
I promise there will always be
A little place no one will see:
A tiny part deep in my heart
That stays in love with you."

Now that’s powerful, and powerfully moving. And one of the best sets of lyrics ever written.

Two more and then I’ll stop. There are so many of their songs to choose from: “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”, “The Summer Knows,” “The Way We Were,” “So Many Stars,” “The Windmills of Your Mind,” “Little Boy Lost,” and “The Island” (which for pure sensuality might be the sexiest song ever written). Here’s “Little Boy Lost” from the movie Pieces of Dreams. I love “on the tip of your mind.” I love the sequence of “found, a-wondering, wandering, stumbling, tumbling, round!” I love this song.

"Little boy lost
In search of little boy found
You go a-wondering, wandering,
Stumbling, tumbling, round! round!
When will you find
What's on the tip of your mind?
Why are you blind
To all you ever were, never were,
Really are, nearly are?
Little boy false
In search of little boy true
Will you be ever done traveling,
Always unraveling you, you?
Running away
Could lead you further astray
And as for fishing in streams
For pieces of dreams,
Those pieces will never fit
What is the sense of it?
Little boy blue
Don't let your little sheep roam
It's time, come blow your horn,
Meet the morn,
Look and see,
Can you be far from home?"

And last, but not least, this sensual trip to the island of love, “The Island.”

"Make believe we've landed on a desert island.
Bathe me in the waters, warm me in the moonlight,
Taste me with your kisses, find my secret places,
Touch me till I tremble, free my wings for flying
And catch me while I’m falling.
Keep your arms around me
Like there’s no tomorrow.
Let me know you love me.
On our little island, not a soul can see us.
Show me how to love you, teach me how to please you.
Lay your dreams beside me, only stars will listen
To our cries and whispers, you were made to love me
And I was made to love you.
Keep your arms around me
And lose yourself inside me.
Make it last forever.
I can see the island shining in the distance.
Now were getting closer, keep your arms around me,
Oh, now, we’re almost there.
On our little island not a soul can hear us,
Silently exchanging fantasies and feelings
Endlessly exploring, learning one another,
Till the morning finds us, you were made to love me
And I was made to love you
Keep your arms around me,
Lose yourself completely,
Make it last forever.
I can see the island shining there before us.
Now were getting closer, just keep your arms around me.
Come my love, we’re there."

Take a bite of that, all you would-be lyricists. I’ve now said enough.

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