Who is the most intelligent song lyricist who ever lived?


Reckless Endangerment
The most intelligent I've heard (not the most intelligent who ever lived - I'm sure there was a 19th century Ecuadorean I've not heard of who was astounding) - is Neil Hannon. Exhibit one - the lyrics to 'Charge', bulging with knowing historical references, and likening the Crimean War to getting into a lady's knickers. Amazing.
Hannon is definitely amazing -- his voice alone does wonders for me.

Should I be surprised that no one else is saying Devoto? :blushing: :o


Active Member
Measuring lyric writers by intelligence doesn't quite compute for me somehow. But the one I would most immediately connect with the adjective "intelligent" is Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout, whose lyrics are perhaps more clever than any other thing. Remarkably, that doesn't stop them from being endearing.



Active Member
Sir William of Bragg
OK, I'm going to pick a quarrel on that point. :) You can say many things about Billy Bragg's lyrics, but that they are intelligent is not one of them, in my frank opinion.

Take "Between the Wars", a song I love very, very much. As for the lyrics, you can laud its committment, dedication, poetical qualities and other things besides, But taken as a statement about what it purports to be about, I would say it is deficient to the point of downright stupidity. As far as I can tell, he's angry at the government for re-arming against Hitler, as if it was still 1932 and it was all about avoiding a re-run of the first world war. He's paying wistful homage to the anti-war sentiment of the 20s and early 30s, as if that didn't turn out to be disastrously misguided. It was understandable at the time after the carnage of the trenches of the great war, but by the 1980s you'd think he'd noticed Auschwitz and put 1+1 together. I know, obviously he had, but then why write a song that argues that arming to confront that evil was inherently contrary to working class interests and idealism? Does he think Hitler would have let him keep his green fields and factory floors in peace? Then again, maybe as a historian I am hearing it differently from other people.

Great song though, as long as you don't think too much about the lyric. :)

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Reckless Endangerment
With you on that one and so excited about seeing him the week after next!
You are so lucky!
(Magic, Murder, and the Weather reference there ;))

But honestly, I really wish I could see the man. I doubt this new Magazine outfit will do a U.S. tour though, so chances are extraordinarily slim of that ever happening :(


New Member
That guy out of 2 Unlimited was by far the most intelligent lyricist ever. However, his actual lyrics were fecking appalling.:thumb:

Techno Techno Techno TECHNO. Inspired? You might well think so...

Brian May is obviously one of the most intelligent songwriters, what with his master's degree and all, but the lyrics to Fat Bottomed Girls... well. I don't know that his qualifications in astrophysics really helped him there.

Harsh Truth

Ever Felt Had?
lets not forget to add Nick Lowe to this list!


New Member
Morrissey of course

also Nick Cave, Stuart Staples, Lee Hazelwood at times... and um...GG Allin. it had to be hard to come up with so many songs about rape!

Happy Maudlin

Corinthian and Caricature
Paul Heaton of the Beautiful south fame. The lyrics was cynic-pop gold.
Ani DiFranco has original fresh lyrics. She somehow expresses things that are aptly fitting for the emotions she is singing about.
Even Liz Phair for encapsulating indie lo-fi aesthetic with female perspective (i.e. before adult contempo pop makeover in 2000)
Lloyd Cole is pretentious yet he's aware of it and I love his references.
There are are brilliant composers as well, therefore a composer thread should be up for candidacy. My vote is for Vince Clark, Kevin Sheilds of My Bloody Valentine and Dean Garcia, particularly for the bass arrangements.
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