The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

My top 10 song lyrics of all time

I don’t talk about music as often as I could on this site, I occasionally write a pop song review as The Zero, but I haven’t done of those in a long while. Anyway, music is such a big part of my life, sometimes there’s really nothing better than that perfect track that just sums up how you feel, and it has this amazing power to lift you up or to help your imagination run wild. I run a separate site called Infinite Oceans, which is where I write short stories completely inspired by music tracks I listen to, it’s that much of a big deal for me. I don’t want to get into the debate of what makes a perfect song, and the examples I’m going to list probably aren’t “the greatest song lyrics ever” but they’re just my favourite (as of the time of writing, this could all change in a few weeks).

Oh yeah, I think there may be some strong language and probably some kind of metaphors for drugs, sex and other subjects, so you’ve been warned.

10.  The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future – Los Campesinos!

I grabbed hold of her wrist and my hand closed from tip to tip
I said “you’ve taken the diet too far, you have got to let it slip”
But she’s not eating again, she’s not eating again, she’s not eating again, she’s not eating again.
I ask her to speak French and then I need her to translate, I get the feeling she makes the meaning more significant.
She was always far too pretty for me to believe in a single word she said, believe a word she said.
At fourteen her mother died in a routine operation, from allergic reaction to a general anesthetic. She spent the rest of her teens experimenting with prescriptions, in a futile attempt to know more than the doctors.

She said one day to leave her, sand up to her shoulders waiting for the tide
to drag her to the ocean, to another sea’s shore.
This thing hurts like hell,
but what did you expect?

And all you can hear is the sound of your own heart
And all you can feel is your lungs flood and the blood course
But oh I can see five hundred years dead set ahead of me
Five hundred behind,
A thousand years in perfect symmetry

Best known left wrist right finger, through all the Southern States, on every video games machine they call her triple A.
There were racists on the radio trying to give up smoking, the chat show host, he joked ,you have to wait for the government program.
You talk about your politics, and I wonder if you could be one of them, but you could never kiss a Tory boy without wanting to cut off your tongue again.
A good place to look to the future is when you are sat at the sea, with the salt up to your ankles and a view of the end of the pier, you may look down at your model’s feet and wish that you’d just float away, and the weather here is overcast and the sea is the same shade of grey, so the landscape before you looks just like the edge of the world, but to the left side and the right side, either way is a crazy golf course.
The sea is a good place to think of the future.

And all you can hear is the sound of your own heart
And all you can feel is your lungs flood and the blood course
But oh I can see five hundred years dead set ahead of me
Five hundred behind,
A thousand years in perfect symmetry
A thousand years no getting rid of me
A thousand years in perfect symmetry.

Gareth is just this extraordinary under-rated lyricist and this is the song that really showcases this gift he has, the amount of detail he gets into a few lines is incredible and so deep. And the complete dis-regard for structure and it still sounding fantastic is just an incredible achievement. The general story is about someone looking in at a close friend being terrified of looking ahead, taking drastic measures to avoid growing up and taking responsibility and being powerless to help as she slowly drowns herself.

9. 505 – Arctic Monkeys

I’m going back to 505,
If it’s a 7 hour flight or a 45 minute drive,
In my imagination you’re waiting lying on your side,
With your hands between your thighs,

Stop and wait a sec,
Oh when you look at me like that my darling,
What did you expect,
I probably still adore you with your hands around my neck,
Or I did last time I checked,

Not shy of a spark,
A knife twists at the thought that I should fall short of the mark,
Frightened by the bite though its no harsher than the bark,
Middle of adventure, such a perfect place to start,

I’m going back to 505,
If it’s a 7 hour flight or a 45 minute drive,
In my imagination you’re waiting lying on your side,
With your hands between your thighs,

But I crumble completely when you cry,
It seems like once again you’ve had to greet me with goodbye,
I’m always just about to go and spoil a surprise,
Take my hands off of your eyes too soon,

I’m going back to 505,
If it’s a 7 hour flight or a 45 minute drive,
In my imagination you’re waiting lying on your side,
With your hands between your thighs, and a smile.

Anyone heard Arctic Monkey’s latest album and the string of romantic crooning tracks on that? I doubt he would have written those if he’d not written this first. Alex Turner has this great way of creating a sort of vague, but romantic style, I don’t wether 505 is a place or a metaphor for love making, but it creates this sense of going anywhere and doing anything to be with someone, that just throws you into, as the words suggest “The middle of adventure is the perfect place to start”

8. Oh Comely – Neutral Milk Hotel

Oh comely, I will be with you when you lose your breath,
Chasing the only meaningful memory you thought you had left.
With some pretty, bright and bubbly terrible scene
That was doing her thing on your chest.

But oh comely,
It isn’t as pretty as you’d like to guess
In your memory, you’re drunk on your awe ,to me
It doesn’t mean anything at all.

Oh comely,
All of your friends are all letting you blow,
Bristling and ugly, bursting with fruits falling out from the holes
Of some pretty, bright, and bubbly friend
You could need to say comforting things in your ear

But oh comely,
There isn’t such one friend that you could find here.
Standing next to me,
He’s only my enemy
I’ll crush him with everything I own.

Say what you want to say
Hang for your hollow ways
Moving your mouth to pull out
All your miracle aimed for me.

Your father made fetuses with flesh licking ladies,
While you and your mother were asleep in the trailer park.
Thunderous sparks from the dark of the stadiums,
The music and medicine you needed for comforting.
So make all your fat fleshy fingers to moving,
And pluck all your silly strings, bend all your notes for me.
Soft silly music is meaningful magical,
The movements were beautiful, all in your ovaries.
All of them milking with green fleshy flowers,
While powerful pistons were sugary sweet machines.
Smelling of semen all under the garden
Was all you were needing when you still believed in me.

Say what you want to say.
Hang for your hollow ways.
Moving your mouth to pull out
All your miracle aimed for me.

And I know they buried her body with others,
Her sister and mother and five-hundred families.
And will she remember me fifty years later?
I wished I could save her in some sort of time machine.

Know all your enemies.

We know who our enemies are.

Goldaline, my dear,
We will fold and freeze together
Far away from here.
There is sun and spring and green forever.

But now we move to feel for ourselves inside some stranger’s stomach.

Place your body here,
Let your skin begin to blend itself with mine.

Jeff Mangum’s lyrics on the entire “In the Aeroplane Over The Sea” album are very strange to dis-sect because largely, they aren’t really about anything. The whole album was supposedly created in this huge flurry of inspiration and this particularly track was all recorded in one take.  But it’s heavily believed that parts of the album are heavily inspired by the diaries of Anne Frank and the holocaust, which would explain lines like “I know they buried her body with others/her sister and mother and five hundred families” It’s not easy listening and Mangum does this incredible job of mixing this really grotesque macabre, but really powerful imagery with just simple combinations of words. It’s brutal and raw, but then at the end, placing the idea of re-incarnation “But now we move to feel ourselves inside some strangers stomach” that just is in a way, a sort of beautiful circle of life idea.

7. Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl – Broken Social Scene

Used to be the one of the rotten ones
And I liked you for that
Now you’re all gone, got your make-up on
And you’re not coming back

Bleachin’ your teeth, smiling flash
Talking trash, under your breath
Bleachin’ your teeth, smiling flash
Talking trash, under my window

Park that car, drop that phone,
Sleep on the floor, dream about me

Used to be the one of the rotten ones
And I liked you for that
Now you’re all gone, got your make-up on
And you’re not coming back

This is probably one of the more simple tracks on this list, it doesn’t even need explaining that much, it just perfectly describes that nostalgia of your teenage years, your first love and how it hurts to move on because you don’t know anything else. It’s effective in it’s simplicity and that’s why I really love it, you don’t need intense metaphors for teenage love and reckless behaviour, you just need “sleep on the floor, dream about me.” It’s innocent and it’s beautiful and it makes me tear up every time.

6. The One I Love – R.E.M.

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love

Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)
Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
Another prop has occupied my time
This one goes out to the one I love

Again, a very simple, but really spiteful song. A lot of people really overlook the third line and how it’s about deception and abuse and how the narrator is probably going to go to hell for what’s he’s done.

5. Farewell And Goodnight – Smashing Pumpkins

goodnight, to every little hour that you sleep tite
may it hold you through the winter of a long night
and keep you from the loneliness of yourself
heart strung is your heart frayed and empty
cause it’s hard luck, when no one understands your love
it’s unsung, and i say
goodnight, my love, to every hour in every day
goodnight, always, to all that’s in your heart
goodnight, may your dreams be so happy and your
head lite with the wishes of a sandman and a night light
be careful not to let the bedbugs sleep tight nestled in your covers
the sun shines but i don’t
a silver rain will wash away
and you can tell, it’s just as well
goodnight, my love, to every hour in every day
goodnight, always to all that’s pure that’s in your heart

Smashing Pumpkins lyrics aren’t normally known for their beauty, in fact, whilst Billy Corgan is a pretty good songwriter on the whole, a lot of his lyrics never really stand out to me. This however stands out, written and sung like a lullaby, it’s enough to soothe the angriest of souls. The repetition of goodnight, maybe meaning the ending of something, and maybe the start of something else implies perhaps the end of a relationship, the end of love, maybe the end of life itself, maybe the author is saying goodnight to his love forever, but keeping it in his heart to remind him of the good times. Maybe it’s child-like innocence is symbolic of something in Billy Corgan, maybe we’ll never know…

4. There’s A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths

Take me out tonight
Where there’s music and there’s people
Who are young and alive
Driving in your car
I never never want to go home
Because I haven’t got one anymore

Take me out tonight
Because I want to see people
And I want to see life
Driving in your car
Oh please don’t drop me home
Because it’s not my home, it’s their home
And I’m welcome no more

And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten ton truck
Kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well the pleasure, the privilege is mine

Take me out tonight
Take me anywhere, I don’t care
I don’t care, I don’t care
And in the darkened underpass
I thought Oh God, my chance has come at last
But then a strange fear gripped me
And I just couldn’t ask

Take me out tonight
Oh take me anywhere, I don’t care
I don’t care, I don’t care
Driving in your car
I never never want to go home
Because I haven’t got one
No, I haven’t got one

And if a double-decker bus
Crashes in to us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten ton truck
Kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well the pleasure, the privilege is mine

There is a light that never goes out
There is a light that never goes out
There is a light that never goes out
There is a light that never goes out

Morrisey and Marr wrote some fantastic tracks in their time, didn’t they? This is clearly no exception, I think it’s one of those songs that really appears simple at first, it could easily about young love and hedonism and the whole James Dean “Live fast, die young“ ideal, but I think at the same time, there’s probably intentionally some resentment towards that life style in Morrisey, so it could all be incredibly bleak and about someone planning to kill themselves with their lover because they have nothing to live for except each other. The light in question? Well, heaven…and I’m not referring to a club in Manchester.

3. Spanish Sahara – Foals

So I walked into the haze
And a million dirty waves
Now I see you lying there
Like a lilo losing air air

Black rocks and shoreline sand
Still that summer I cannot bear
And I wipe the sand from my eyes
Spanish sahara the place that you´d wanna
Leave the horror here
Forget the horror here
forget the horror here
Leave it all down here
It’s future rust and it´s future dust
Forget the horror here
forget the horror here
Leave it all down here
It’s future rust and it´s future dust

Now the waves they drag you down
Carry you to broken ground
Though I find you in the sand
Wipe you clean with dirty hands

So god damn this boiling space
Spanish sahara the place that you´d wanna
Leave the horror here
Forget the horror here forget the horror here
Leave it all down here
It’s future rust and it´s future dust
I’m the fury in your head
I’m the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head

Cause I am
I’m the fury in your head
I’m the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head

Cause I am
I’m the fury in your head
I’m the fury in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head
Cause I am

Forget the horror here
forget the horror here
Leave it all down here
It’s future rust and it´s future dust
Choir of furies in you head
Choir of furies in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head

Cause I am
Choir of furies in you head
Choir of furies in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head

Cause I am
Choir of furies in your head
Choir of furies in your bed
I’m the ghost in the back of your head
Cause I am

Foals do surrealism very well, I don’t know how Yannis plucks these words and these rhymes out, but I’m very jealous of him to be able to do it. Choirs of furies, future rust, boiling space, it’s all so wonderful and vivid and violent and angry, like something is gnawing away at the speakers conscience, traumatic memories and terror, all at once and it just intensifies until he becomes the manifestation of horror itself.

2. Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana

She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
I’ve been locked inside your Heart Shaped box for a weeks
I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black

Hey!
Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
hey
wait
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Hey!
Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice

…your advice

Meat-eating orchids forgive no one just yet
Cut myself on Angel Hair and babys breath
Broken hymen of your highness I’m left black
Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back

Hey!
Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
hey!
Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Hey!
Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
…Your advice

She has me like a pisces when I am weak
I’ve been locked inside your Heart-Shaped box for weeks
I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
I wish I could Eat your cancer when you turn black

Hey!
Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
hey!
wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Hey!
Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Your advice
Your advice
Your advice

It’s no secret that Kurt Cobain is a fantastic songwriter, capable of turning, what’s essentially a love song, and adding subtle blows that make it just bitter, sarcastic and hateful. Eating someones cancer may be a sign of dedication, but it’s disgusting. Cutting yourself on angel hair, broken hymens, it’s grim. It’s an angry hate song disguised as a love song, being trapped in an unfulfilled relationship, and unable to escape, the perfect metaphor for his drug addictions.

1. No Cars Go – Arcade Fire

We know a place where no planes go
We know a place where no ships go

(Hey!) No cars go
(Hey!) No cars go
Where we know

We know a place no space ships go
We know a place where no subs go

(Hey!) No cars go
(Hey!) No cars go
Where we know

(Mom!)
(Dad!)
(No go!)

(Hey!) Us kids know
(Hey!) No cars go
Where we know

Between the click of the light and the start of the dream

I don’t want any pushing, and I don’t want any shoving. We’re gonna do this in an orderly manner. Women and children! Women and children! Women and children, let’s go! Old folks, let’s go! Babies needing cribs, let’s go! Don’t know where we’re going…

I’ve actually written an essay on the lyrics of this song, as well as a short story, that’s how much this means to me. The reason I really enjoy this track is simply because I really love the child-like innocence of it and there’s the sense of adventure and hope and mystery throughout. The main focus is the idea of finding that one place that you can run away to that’s unspoilt by technology or by man, but seeing it with the wonder that only a child would know and finding peace. The lines “Between the click of the light and the start of the dream” refers to that period of time after you close your eyes and before you go to sleep where your mind reflects on the day or the future, hinting that the sacred place doesn’t exist outside of the child or the speakers mind. It’s also never described by the speakers at any point and I think that further alludes to the idea of it being different for every person, that the world is actually ruined, which is sad, but gives a sense of a nostalgia for the past.

But at the same time, I have a gloomier interpretation of the song, that it’s about death and the end of the world. The place where no cars, ships and planes go could be seen as heaven, and there’s an implication that technology is what destroyed the world. The lines “Between the click of the light and the start of the dream” could be seen as when you see your life flashing before your eyes before your death. And I love the imagery of everyone in the world being rounded up, being told “let’s go “ and everyone marching to the afterlife together, with their fear of the unknown, yet an acceptance of their own mortality being portrayed perfectly with the final line “Don’t know where we’re going”

So that’s my top 10. I hope it’s given you a different outlook, perhaps opened your eyes to some different artists with fantastic lyrics that aren’t the cliché of Lennon, Dylan, etc. (They rightly belong on this list, but I wanted to do something a bit more personal than a clichéd list that can be found anywhere) I’ve written a couple of short stories inspired by these tracks and I’ll link to them below, if you want to check them out. Hope you enjoyed this list and keep listening to great music…

Short story links

The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future
King Of Carrot Flowers (Oh Comely)
Seventeen (Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl)
The One I Love
Farewell And Goodnight
No Cars Go

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