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Thread: Prog's Poets Laureate

  1. #26
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    In terms of pure libretto, number 1 in my book is Neil Peart.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

  2. #27
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan
    Ian Anderson
    FZ
    Robert Wyatt
    PG
    Tim Smith
    Dave Cousins
    Christian Vander (not a joke...I view his lyrics as works of art)
    Joni Mitchell
    Bob Drake
    Peart
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  3. #28
    Arguably not prog, but Robert Hunter and his lyrics for Jerry Garcia/Grateful Dead

    Also Scott Walker was amazing and Peter Hammill too

  4. #29
    It seems like I am not alone in appreciating a great set of lyrics. Many of the songwriters mentioned are on my list of favorites, but others I either need to try out (Henry Cow is definitely new territory for me) or give a closer listen (King Crimson).

    Someone suggested Weston and Kull. Is this Ray Weston from Brett Kull from Echolyn?

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    Weston and Kull.
    Agree, they have some fantastic lyrics.

  6. #31
    Ian Anderson, for me. Such a sense of symbolism and imagery:

    Such a sense of glowing in the aftermath
    ripe with rich attainments all imagined
    sad misdeeds in disarray
    the sore thumb screams aloud,
    echoing out of the Passion Play.
    All the old familiar choruses come crowding in a different key:
    Melodies decaying in sweet dissonance.
    There was a rush along the Fulham Road
    into the Ever-passion Play.

    And I particularly like his rapid fire use of Norse kennings in context for the aptly titled "Cold Wind to Valhalla":

    And ride with us young bonny lass
    With the angels of the night.
    Crack wind clatter flesh rein bite
    On an out-size unicorn.
    Rough-shod winging sky blue flight
    On a cold wind to Valhalla.
    And join with us please
    Valkyrie maidens cry
    Above the cold wind to Valhalla.

    Breakfast with the gods. Night angels serve
    With ice-bound majesty.
    Frozen flaking fish raw nerve
    In a cup of silver liquid fire.
    Moon jet brave beam split ceiling swerve
    And light the old Valhalla.
    Come join with us please
    Valkyrie maidens cry
    Above the cold wind to Valhalla.

    The heroes rest upon the sighs
    Of Thor's trusty hand maidens.
    Midnight lonely whisper cries,
    "We're getting a bit short on heroes lately.
    Sword snap fright white pale goodbyes
    In the desolation of Valhalla.
    And join with us please
    Valkyrie maidens ride
    Empty-handed on the cold wind to Valhalla.
    "And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision."

    Occasional musical musings on https://darkelffile.blogspot.com/

  7. #32
    For me, there’s Peter Hammill...

    ...then everyone else

  8. #33
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    Adrian Belew. He misses a lot too but when his lyrics hit, he really hits (for me anyway).

    Indiscipline
    Matte Kudesai
    Elephant Talk
    Waiting Man
    Industry/Dig Me
    Prozac Blues
    World's My OSKFWM
    One Time
    Walking on Air
    others I'm sure

  9. #34
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    ^^AB

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  10. #35
    As someone who dabbles in writing somewhat seriously it seems to me that a lot of the plaudits provided thus far have been thrust at lyricists who I’d say are guilty of three cardinal prog sins: density, willful obscurity, and melodrama.

    There are no proggy lyricists to my knowledge with the economy of Elvis Costello or the earthiness of Richard Thompson. Having said that, Blegvad is stellar, almost never tossing out a cheesy, throwaway phrase and is a master of delivering emotional impact through a rich simplicity of expression. Joni of course, although progressive beyond prog, can be brilliant.

  11. #36
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    Anyone responsible for both "Kew-Rhone" and "Leviathan" should win the prize. His name is Peter Blegvad.

    Peter Hammil comes in as a close second.

  12. #37
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Pete Brown ?

  13. #38
    Casanova TCC's Avatar
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    Obviously for me:

    - Luis Alberto Spinetta (El Flaco).

    … and with a little extra effort:
    (my first language is spanish)

    - Peter Hammil.
    - Ian Anderson.
    Last edited by TCC; 2 Weeks Ago at 06:42 PM.
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  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulrus View Post
    It's interesting that nobody has yet mentioned Jon Anderson. I've seen descriptions of his lyrics (and mind you, I'd confine any discussion of JA lyrics to pre-1978) range from "Joycean" to "gobbledygook", but there's no denying many of us could recite every line of "Starship Trooper" or "Siberian Khatru" word for word. He definitely had a knack for memorable word play.
    I would include Jon based on his first twenty or so years of writing, but IMO his style changed since the early 90s and with few exceptions I haven't enjoyed his lyrical output so much for the last 20+ years (not a comment on his singing or melodies, just the lyrics). I really enjoy Jon's gobbledygook from the 70s and much of the 80s and some of it is brilliant, if hard to decipher at times. Even if it is brilliant by accident sometimes.

  15. #40
    Three Peters would probably top my list: Hammill, Nichols, Gabriel. I'll throw in Peter Sinfield maybe in the top 10 along with Kate Bush somewhere in the top 10.

    While I love Zappa's music and lyrics, I wouldn't say his output is poetry so much as rhyming social satire.

  16. #41
    I'd imagine some won't consider him prog per se but I'd have to add Caetano Veloso here.

  17. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by TCC View Post
    Obviously for me:

    - Luis Alberto Spinetta (El Flaco).

    … and with a little extra effort:
    (my first language is spanish)

    - Peter Hammil.
    - Ian Anderson.
    Yes.

  18. #43
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention my total militant agreement on both Roy Harper and Robert Wyatt. Both worthy of the term rock poet laureate (prog or not). They both touch me greatly although Hammill absolutely bitch slaps me at times...ouch!
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  19. #44
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    Roger Mcgough "Summer With Monica" .

    A fav lp of mine.

    Poet McGough was in the late 60's band, Scaffold (which released at least 3 lps) and did a wonderful popsike lp with Paul McCartney's brother, Mike McGear.

    "Summer With Monica" makes you laugh and cry. It is about a man who is basically sexed to madness; locking himself and Monica from the world and gradually (progressively) descending into insanity.

  20. #45
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
    Weston and Kull.
    Those two were the first that came to mind for me, too! They are exceptional lyricists who draw upon a wide variety of influences and are surprisingly literary.

    I also agree with those that cite Gabriel, although Banks and Rutherford are responsible for many of Genesis' lyrics. Cousins, Hammill, and Ian Anderson are great too!

  21. #46
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    Someone else that I just thought of who I think is a great lyricist would be Andy Tillison from The Tangent. I find his lyrics to always be intelligent, well thought out, and interesting. I also like his take on the U.S. from an English point of view which crops up a lot in his lyrics.

  22. #47
    I've always enjoyed the lyrics John Palumbo wrote for Crack The Sky, his solowork and Cruel Shoes.
    Sea Epic from the first album is a classic:

    God save the captain, he's got a wife at home
    And quite a few children, you can't let them live alone
    I'll go down yelling or quiet if you like
    But please spare the captain, you see, I've got no wife waiting for me
    God save the admiral, he's got the mind to lead
    And the country needs him, she's got more ships to fleet
    Oh, I'll go down yelling or quiet if you like
    But please spare the admiral, you see, I've got no lives to lead to the sea

    Don't try to tell me who to save or kill
    I've got my own mind, you know
    And I'll do what I will
    I'll do what I will
    You know I will!
    I'll kill the captain if it's his time, my boy
    I'll take the admiral too, and if you're not cool
    I'll take you!


    I'm sorry, Lord, you know what's best
    But please would you at least spare the cook?
    I'm very hungry, and by the looks of this ship
    I'm gonna starve!
    Oh, I'm gonna starve!

    Well the ship went down to the bottom of the sea
    And the only ones left were the fat cook and me
    So I looked to the sky with a smile in my eye
    Caught a glimpse of the Dude
    And started singing
    I'm sorry Lord that I doubted you
    Oh, babe you really came through
    And I thank you, I thank you
    I thank you Lord
    I thank you Lord
    Yeah

  23. #48
    facetious maximus Yves's Avatar
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    If your French is non-existent you'll just have to take my word for it, but Serge Fiori from Harmonium is as good as anyone named in this thread.
    "Corn Flakes pissed in. You ranted. Mission accomplished. Thread closed."

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  24. #49
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    Any Italian speakers here? Maybe someone can tell me which RPI band actually has good lyrics because they all sound the same to me - fabulous!!!! Italian just sounds so good! But are the words well-written? No idea.
    Prog's Not Dead

  25. #50
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Hammill
    Nico
    Keith Reid
    Sinfield
    Pete Brown
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