It’s been said (or written) that talking (or writing) about music is like dancing about architecture. The first time I read that it was attributed to Steve Martin. I’ve since learned that it is variously attributed to Laurie Anderson, Frank Zappa, Martin Mull, Elvis Costello, Thelonius Monk, Clara Schumann, Miles Davis, George Carlin and others (thank you, Internet). The best investigation I’ve seen into tracking down credible citations is by Quote Investigator and they conclude that Martin Mull is likely the originator, but it is based on aphorisms that go back nearly a century or more.
Anyway, this 3-song playlist turns that notion on its head a bit and includes songs with lyrics that reference architectural elements. Just because this is how my brain works. The lyrics to all three of these songs are readily available online, and I encourage you to look them up.
One of Willie Nelson’s early successes as a songwriter was with “Hello Walls,” which was recorded by Faron Young and was a big hit in 1961. In interviews I’ve heard both Nelson and Young relate that they got some teasing early on — people saying things like, “hello commode” and “hello sink.” After it became a #1 hit on the country charts and #12 on the pop charts I think a lot of that teasing subsided. In its three verses the singer greets the walls, window, and ceiling, lamenting the loss of a lover who has left.
Iowa by Dar Williams is a hauntingly beautiful song. I had to include this song for no better reason than “I went running through the screen doors of discretion.”
Townes Van Zandt is often described as a songwriter’s songwriter. His playful use of language and imagery really shines in this song. And how could I not include, “The window’s accusing the door of abusing the wall”?