Christopher Sjoholm wrote:Platypus, you make a valid point regarding the melody of Tart and it didn't have to be a 'long winded essay'- my wife played it for me and it is very pleasant. The problem for me has always been the lyric which is an abysmal mess to my ears[which is what PD points to in the quote when he notes it is a lovely melody looking for a good lyric]. You do offer a perspective that I tend to overlook. My entree to this artist and others naturally gravitates to the lyric. I love words and the connotations and sounds that can be heard from their various combinations. My first entrance into most pop songs is through the music in the lyric. It stems from a real love for poetry and its 'music' or sounds. I also agree with you that good music should produce a certain 'joy'. This record, unfortunately, has consistently failed to do that for me. I do disagree that it is easy to viably criticize something; that is hard work. I find it far easier to praise a given work which I love to do.
That you gave me a different way to look at Tart is something I sincerely appreciate. Thank you.
Yes, the thought of people loving 'Tart' doesn't make me shake my head in bewilderment. It has a nice melody and the lyric has some potential. I drew an analogy with 'All Time Doll' when thinking about this song, because both seem to me examples of attractive tunes in search of good lyrics. In the end, both tracks leave me with the same hollow feeling of having been led nowhere. (It terms of overall sound, though, I'd rate 'Doll' more highly, because it seems to me more interesting, and doesn't have that - to my ears - inappropriate 'rock' element grafted onto it).
As far as the words go: there's nothing wrong with allusive lyrics that don't carry a meaning in literal terms. Bob Dylan really carried the craft of such songs to new heights, and a lot of ancient folk songs give us lyrical 'nonsense' that somehow opens up its own myserious, evocative world. It's just that 'Tart' fails to elicit that response from me. And in thinking about why, it may be because so much of the lyric is just functional
oranges roll in the gutter and you pick one up
Pull back the skin
To the red fruit within
is OK, not bad writing by any means, but it doesn't summon anything particularly vigorous - to me it just comes off as a windy way of saying, 'you peeled an orange,' meant to fill up the notes demanded by the melody. (Lyrically speaking, you could have dropped the last two lines altogether). And all this seems almost anticlimactic coming at the end of a verse: wow, this leads up to...that? (Maybe if her teeth had fallen out or something! But the chorus just takes us to complaining about the flavour. Too many words put to too little payoff).
Or, craft-wise, there's
lon was hung from a peg
In contrast to the much sharper opening syllables of the previous verses, which can actually bear the emphasis placed on them by the melody ('Here
/silver trumpets will trill...' 'Art
/where nothing else grows...' 'Wild
/with a blackberry bush...'), this splitting of 'nylon' into two beats is just weak - in fact a cheat. And yet he sees fit to begin the final verse, which should be the strongest, with that limp gambit. That's the work of a 'semi-sick craftsman,' as John Lennon once referred to himself.
Small points to try to illustrate why the lyric leaves me cold. Like '15 Petals,' it just doesn't come off convincingly in my book. But you know, I say this all by way of discussion. Not trying to piss on anyone's parade or anything.