Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Art of Songwriting: EBTG's "Two Star"




Everything But the Girl's "Two Star" is a perfect piece of music, with melody, lyrics, arrangement, and performance meshing almost inconceivably well. Commenters on YouTube remark that this song is both sad and beautiful in the extreme. What's not mentioned is that it captures a dimension of romantic pain rarely covered in song, i.e., self-recrimination and depression. How good is this as lyric writing? "I watch Saturday kids' TV / With the sound turned down / I leave food on the eiderdown / All my thoughts pushed underground." And you know the narrator is probably stoned too. The vocals are by Tracey Thorn; words and music by her husband Ben Watt. It's worth posting the full set of lyrics.

Well it's not for me to say,
But I can't see what you see in him anyway.
But such righteousness in me
Is not a nice thing to display,
And who am I for Christ sakes anyway
To judge a life this way

When my own's in disarray?

I watch Saturday kids' TV
With the sound turned down.
I leave food on the eiderdown.
All my thoughts pushed underground.

Maybe you're happy
Everyone says you are.
You drive around on two star,
You leave your life ajar,
And God knows you deserve it.
Bad luck follows everyone.

So go on, and stop listening to me.
Stop listening to me.
And don't ask me how I feel.
Don't ask me how I feel.

So it's not for me to say,
Because I change my mind from day to day,
And when I look at you
I only see bits of myself anyway.

So go on, and stop listening to me.
Stop listening to me.
And don't ask me what to say,
Or to judge a life this way

When my own's in disarray.

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