I’m a little bit obsessed. Ol Razzle Dazzle by Missy Higgins has got me all in a tizzy, in a very good way.
I’m going to start off by saying, if you haven’t got/heard this album already you really need to. It’s just brilliant! And may have even knocked my beloved Continuum – John Mayer from its top spot in my internal album charts!!
Usually I find it hard to listen to lyrics of songs. A lot of the time they don’t even make a great deal of sense initially and there’s a fair amount of interpretation involved in working them out. But there was something about the words in these songs that really caught my ear, and my imagination! She puts things in a clear, yet inventive way. For instance, in her political song “Hidden Ones” (which sort of reminds me of Ellen and the Escapades) she starts off by using the statue of liberty to imply the setting, and also uses the building as a symbol of hope for the nation. All this without even mentioning its name:
She’s holding a torch in her hand
Pointing towards heaven
And on the streets below her, people living out of trashcans
Are trying to believe she’s got a plan
I mean, how COOL is that? I just wish I could write lyrics as inspired as this.
This is the first time I’ve really payed attention to the lyrics of music I like, usually it’s secondary to the music. And I now feel like I know what all the songs are about. Although, the least clear of all the lyrics are probably in the last song, “Sweet Arms of a Tune“… which just seems to be about some couple who can’t have each other (why??? it’s a mystery!) and sit on the floor feeling sad while they play music to each other.
… But other than that they’re really clearly put, and a lot of them I can relate to, particularly songs like Set Me On Fire, and Everyone’s Waiting which are to do with her torn feelings regarding her music. They really speak to me in particular, but my current favourite is Temporary Love, which is about being in a long distance relationship and not letting yourself get too attached. Though to be honest, it’s not because of the lyrics that I love this song. It’s just so wonderfully theatrical, and has my wife and I singing it to one another in harmony all day. It just won’t shift, it’s stuck on repeat in our heads. It’s just fantastic. I was also really moved by Cooling Of The Embers, which – on first listen you would think is about a break up (“you are not who I remember”)… but when you pay attention you realise it’s about death – and watching someone old become dependant and losing their memories. As it turns out she wrote it about her grandma.
Most of all, I love how much she’s improved over the years. I’ve been a fan of hers since my sister returned from australia with her debut album in her grasp – thinking I’d like her music (I think she thought it sounded a bit like mine). And some artists just sort of stagnate, and the music is more about trends than the love of it. Missy seems to have improved considerably since she released that first album in 2004, and I just love the way the music has grown.
It’s also pretty rare for me to feel like I like the artist behind the music I love. I can’t really get behind John Mayer’s cheeky songs about getting high and the ones that confess to not really having much emotional depth in his relationships – I mean, fair enough, but it’s not me. Ever since I found out that Secret (from On A Clear Night) was about a woman, I guess my ears were slightly pricked. But I can’t help but feel like we have things in common. Maybe it’s my interest in her as a person that got me to listen so intently to the words in her songs. I’m very glad I did.