What are your favorite quotable lyrics?
September 21, 2015 3:21 PM   Subscribe

"But if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need..." I need chunks of lyrics that you quote all the time. Or, at least, quotable lyrics. Bonus points if they're easily drawn or visualized. Double bonus points if they're on self-discovery & empowerment with a bit of life is good thrown in for good measure.

I've somehow developed a habit of drawing & coloring lyrical aphorisms. I'm turning it into something practical by transforming some old picture frames into a jukebox. All total, there's room for 41 different images/songs or, if I go crazy and use all the frames, 88. The images are (or will be) akin to everyone's favorite trite facebook memes. (ex 1, 2, 3)

I'm pretty much open to anything that strikes me, but I'm trying to keep it mostly upbeat. A few sad songs would be welcome, but I want it to be on the happier side overall. I'm also drawn to more positive & affirming messages. Genre can be whatever. I listen to a wide range of music, but I'm not big on R&B, rap, or pop country. I'm not opposed to them, I'm just not as familiar. In extremely heavy rotation over the years: Indigo Girls, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Xavier Rudd, Peter Gabriel, Gogol Bordello, PiL, 80s new wave, ska, reggae, folk, southern rock, indie singer/songwriters....

This all started off as spoofs of trite facebook memes and shifted in a meaningful direction that almost makes me hate myself so I'm not opposed to nonsensical bits if the overall song is positive (Ob La Di).

I've done a few squares already, to give you an idea:
The Beatles - Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da // ob la di ob la da
Bellamy Brothers - Let Your Love Flow // let your love flow
Bob Marley - Three Little Birds // Every little thing gonna be alright
Bruce Springsteen - Badlands // Don't waste your time waiting
Cat Stevens - Never // There'll never be another you
Gov't Mule - Soulshine // Soulshine: better than sunshine better than rain
Indigo Girls - Hammer and a Nail // Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose
John Lennon - Instant Karma // Shine on
Melissa Ferrick - Closer // every little bang, every little push, every little step... I get closer
Michael Franti - Yes I will // what you sing to the clouds will rain upon you
Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten // Today is where your book begins
Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree // It's your day / Shake it down
Sara Bareilles - Brave // I wanna see you be brave

I have a list of other songs & lyrical bits, but for whatever reason they haven't struck me enough to draw (or redraw) them. Hoping for some fresh ideas. So what are some of your favorites? What songs do you quote all the time?
posted by imbri to Media & Arts (59 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
When I feel overwhelmed and stressed out, I sing to myself Mary Magdalene's part from "Everythings Alright" in Jesus Christ Superstar.
posted by metahawk at 3:27 PM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Regardless of what the song as a whole is about, the snippet from R.E.M.'s Superman comes to mind: "I am... I am Superman, and I can do anything.."
posted by crayon at 3:29 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Impossible Dream from Man of La Manche is a great one to get yourself up and moving when you are avoiding stuff
posted by metahawk at 3:29 PM on September 21, 2015

"But even the President of the United States
Sometimes must have
To stand naked."

It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Bob Dylan
posted by parki at 3:33 PM on September 21, 2015

And she said losing love is like a window in your heart.
Everybody sees you're blown apart.
Everybody sees the wind blow.
- Graceland

But now talking to God is Laurel begging Hardy for a gun.
- Girl in the War
posted by carsonb at 3:38 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

"You can get used to anything,
sooner or later it just becomes your life."

Straight Time
-Bruce Springsteen
posted by Cosine at 3:45 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have two great and empowering breakup songs to cite:

Joni Mitchell Hejira In our possessive coupling, so much could not be expressed, so now I am returning to myself those things that you and I suppressed.

Tonio K H.A.T.R.E.D. is a great song for blowing off steam but the part I usually quote is:
I wish I was as mellow as for instance Jackson Browne
But Fountain of Sorrow my ass muthafucka
I hope you wind up in the ground!
posted by janey47 at 3:50 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

OH you love Gogol Bordello! Okay, how about from Illumination:

You are the only light there is
For yourself, my friend
posted by janey47 at 3:55 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Completely different, but when I'm feeling a bit down on energy or whatever, I put this on.


posted by lmfsilva at 4:01 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

From little things big things grow.

It's a line from one of Australia's great protest ballads and means a great deal to many people.
posted by Thella at 4:10 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sad one but one of my favourites, from Pearl Jam's Black:

I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky,
I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
But why, why, why can't it be, can't it be mine?

posted by StephenF at 4:15 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: for you are made of nebulas and novas and night sky
you're made of memories you bury or live by

Never Look Away- Vienna Teng
posted by clarinet at 4:20 PM on September 21, 2015

"I owned every second that this world could give.
I saw so many places, the things that I did.
Yeah, with every broken bone, I swear I lived."
— One Republic, I Lived
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:20 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

My favorite quote by far: "So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains / And we never even know we have the key" (Already Gone, Eagles)
posted by desjardins at 4:36 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Some dance to remember. Some dance to forget." The Eagles

"The sun is the same, in a relative way, but you're older;
shorter of breath and one day closer to death." Pink Floyd

"I am the Lizard King. I can do anything." The Doors

"The killer awoke before dawn. He put his boots on." The Doors

"A thousand girls, a thousand thrill, a million ways to spend your time." The Doors

"She has roses. She has monkeys; lazy diamond studded flunkies." The Doors

"And you know that Indian girl? She wa'n' no Indian; she was the law." David Crosby

Hmm. I seem to be missing the upbeat groove here.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:54 PM on September 21, 2015

Future's so bright, I gotta wear shades (Timbuk 3)
posted by evilmomlady at 4:58 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.
Rise again, rise again - though your heart it be broken
And life about to end
No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend.
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.
-- Stan Rogers, The Mary Ellen Carter

They say we are who we are, but we don't have to be
Fall Out Boy, Immortals

aaand fuck it all, this one, despite how cheesy the source can be:

Dare - dare to believe you can survive
You hold the future in your hand
Dare - dare to keep all of your dreams alive
It's time to take a stand
And you can win, if you dare!
-- Stan Bush, Dare, Transformers: The Movie Soundtrack
posted by mephron at 4:58 PM on September 21, 2015

I just linked to this song in a comment on another thread but it's totally appropriate here too: Frank Turner's Get Better. The whole song is an empowerment anthem; the refrain is we can get better, because we're not dead yet.
They threw me a whirlwind
And I spat back the sea
I took a battering but I've got thicker skin and the best people I know looking out for me
So I'm taking the high road
My engines running high and fine
May I always see the road rising up to meet me and my enemies defeated in the mirror behind
posted by headnsouth at 4:59 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

"When the one that left us here returns for us at last." The Youngbloods

This one is upbeat if you emphasize "returns for us" instead of "left us here".
posted by Bruce H. at 4:59 PM on September 21, 2015

For a long time I felt
Without style or grace
Wearing shoes with no socks
In cold weather
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:11 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free. - Leonard Cohen
posted by warriorqueen at 5:13 PM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

nothing worth having comes without some kind of price
gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight

posted by threeants at 5:13 PM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

* pulls up chair and sits down *

"What you don't have, you don't need it now,
What you don't know, you can feel somehow."
U2, "Beautiful Day"

"I shall drive my chariot down your streets and cry
'Hey, it's me, I'm dynamite and I don't know why'."
Van Morrison, "Sweet Thing"

"You can never hold back spring."
- Tom Waits

"Never say 'never',
Because it's NEVER never."
Yoko Ono, "Bad Dancer"

"Sometimes you have to moan
When nothing seems to suit ya,
Nevertheless you know you're locked
Towards the future."
Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), "On The Road To Find Out"

"We all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun."
John Lennon, "Instant Karma"

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy"

"We all need someone we can lean on,
And if you want to, you can lean on me."
Rolling Stones, "Let It Bleed"

"Just follow the day, follow the day and reach for the sun."
Polyphonic Spree, "Light & Day"

"Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight,
You've gotta kick at the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight."
Bruce Cockburn, "Lovers In A Dangerous Time"

"I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger,
I wish that I knew what I know now when I was stronger...."
The Faces, "Ooh La La"

"We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view."
Bob Dylan, "Tangled Up In Blue"

"I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now."
"My Back Pages" (written by Dylan, popularized by The Byrds)

I may come back with more.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:16 PM on September 21, 2015

Response by poster: Y'all are amazing! I'd mark best answer, but it'd be all of em. It's such a fun mix of forgotten favorites, new discoveries, and "how did I not think of that?!" Keep em coming, if you've got em. At the least, I'll have a bunch of good music to play over the next few days.
posted by imbri at 5:33 PM on September 21, 2015

"It's harder to be friends than lovers
And you shouldn't try to mix the two
'Cause if you do it and you're still unhappy
Then you know that the problem is you"

Liz Phair - Divorce Song
posted by Thorzdad at 5:35 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

and I'll learn to fix stuff
if you will teach me to love
and God will radiate out from within us
instead of this bullshit from above

- Ani Difranco, Red Letter Year
posted by janepanic at 5:56 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I move onward, the only direction/
Can't be scared to fail in the search of perfection - Jay Z, On To The Next One
posted by Fig at 6:00 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

You said you have Indigo Girls already but what about my favorite line of theirs:
Everywhere I turn, all the beauty just keeps shaking me. - World Falls

And, from other sources:
How can I keep from singing? - hymn
Heaven let your light shine down - "Shine" - Collective Soul
You're spring to me/ all things to me/ Don't you know you're life itself? - "Wild is the Wind" - David Bowie
It's gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day - "I Can See Clearly Now" - Jimmy Cliff
posted by tuesdayschild at 6:01 PM on September 21, 2015

This is serendipitous! Last week I randomly heard a fav old tune: Leon Russell's Tight Rope. Earlier today a friend in my musical email circle mentioned that "A Poem is a Naked Person" has finally been released. And now your request for lyrics worth illustrating!

Tight Rope

I'm up on the tightwire
one side's ice and one is fire
its a circus game with you and me
I'm up on the tightrope
one side's hate and one is hope
but the tophat on my head is all you see...

Also, rubber-necked giraffes!
posted by CincyBlues at 6:35 PM on September 21, 2015

Paul Simon - Proof

Faith is an island in the setting sun
But proof is the bottom line for everyone

Paul Simon - Cool Cool River

I believe in the future we shall suffer no more
Maybe not in my lifetime but in yours I feel sure

Sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears
posted by irisclara at 7:04 PM on September 21, 2015

This snippet often runs through my head when I'm having a rough time:
Oooh, I just know that something good is gonna happen/
I don't know when/
But just saying it could even make it happen, mmmm yeah
--Kate Bush, Cloudbusting
posted by thebrokedown at 7:56 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Say Love, Say For Me Love"
Avett Bros - Living of Love
posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 8:57 PM on September 21, 2015

"'Cause when I look at you I squint
You are that beautiful"
Ani Difranco- Slide
posted by jaksemas at 10:03 PM on September 21, 2015

Heaven is so big there ain’t no need to look up, from Josh Ritter's Thin Blue Flame
How strange it is to be anything at all, from Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
It's a new year, and I'm glad to be here, it's the first spring, so let it sing, from Yeasayer's 2080

And from Regina Spektor's On the Radio:
This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

posted by yasaman at 10:12 PM on September 21, 2015

Just last night I realised I loved the poetry of U2's Mysterious Ways line:

To touch is to heal,
To hurt is to steal.

posted by quinndexter at 11:43 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

From Eric Clapton's Let it Grow

"....Plant your love and let it grow

Let it grow, let it grow,
Let it blossom, let it flow
In the sun, the rain, the snow,
Love is lovely, so let it grow, let it grow

Time is getting shorter and there's much for you to do
Only ask and you will get what you are needing,
The rest is up to you
Plant your love and let it grow"

There are several "snippets" you could take from this song. :)
posted by Halo in reverse at 1:51 AM on September 22, 2015

Leonard Cohen is a mine that has an endless supply so I'll suggest just one, from Anthem

There's a crack
A crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

And this from Joe Henry's Scar (describing love)

As fearless as a creeping vine
A mark so fine
But still a scar
posted by janey47 at 2:44 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

For some reason, this one has been on my mind a lot lately:

I don't want a wisdom that doesn't weep
I don't want a philosophy that does not laugh
or the pride that never kneels in front of a child.

posted by jbickers at 3:53 AM on September 22, 2015


Every day is new again
Every day is yours to win
And that's how heroes are made

Morrissey (yes really):
But before you go
Can you look at the truth ?
You have a lovely singing voice
A lovely singing voice
And all of those
Who sing on-key
They stole the notion
From you and me

posted by crocomancer at 4:51 AM on September 22, 2015

I am not a Kelly Clarkson fan in general, but I love the lyrics to "Sober". For purposes of your project, I'd use

"picked all my weeds but kept the flowers"
"been a long road since those hands I left my tears in"
posted by yawper at 6:54 AM on September 22, 2015

"Any major dude with half a heart surely would tell you, my friend -
any minor world that breaks apart falls together again.
When the demon is at your door, in the morning it won't be there no more."

Steely Dan, Any Major Dude, on Pretzel Logic.
It's my go-to lemonade for when life hands me an abundance of lemons.
posted by eclectist at 9:01 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe coming at this in a bit of a tangential way, but whenever I'm overwhelmed by "news" coming at me 24/7 from all angles, I find comfort in these lines from Simon and Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York":

"I get the news I need from the weather report.
I can gather all the news I need from the weather report."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:55 AM on September 22, 2015

"I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven" -- The Who, Baba O'Rielly

"I won't be around this old town anymore for a long long time
Gonna hit the road and start looking for the end of that long white line" - Sturgill Simpson, Long White Line
posted by teleri025 at 1:04 PM on September 22, 2015

Response by poster: Marked Never Look Away by Vienna Teng as a best answer because I spent my lunch & conference call today coloring it. Thanks for the inspiration! And for all the other songs & lyrics listed. I'm sure many of them will wind up on the wall o' not so great but fun to do art.
posted by imbri at 3:38 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

"I am a breathing time machine"
Avett Bros - Laundry Room
posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 5:04 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

What no John Grant? His lyrics are so good I sometimes have to make FPPs about them.

This pain
It is a glacier moving through you
Carving out deep valleys
And creating spectacular landscapes
And nourishing the ground
With precious minerals and other stuff
So don't you become paralysed with fear
When things seem particularly rough

posted by greenish at 3:25 AM on September 23, 2015

Oh lord, Vienna Teng ... that brings to mind maybe the most inspirational song ever, "Level Up."
posted by jbickers at 3:29 AM on September 23, 2015

I don't believe in an interventionist god - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
posted by h00py at 3:42 AM on September 23, 2015

"Oh I used to be disgusted. And now I try to be amused." Elvis Costello
posted by carmicha at 9:19 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

You've already got the Beatles covered, but "There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be," from All You Need is Love is a good one, I think.
posted by merriment at 10:04 AM on September 23, 2015

"Oh I used to be disgusted. And now I try to be amused."

More from the same song:
And I won't get any older now
The angels want to wear my red shoes.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:15 PM on September 23, 2015

And so it goes and so it goes
and so it goes and so it goes
but where it's goin' no one knows~ Nick Lowe
posted by Iamthepassenger at 12:56 AM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kind of a silly lyric but..
Let them leave you up in the air
Let them brush your rock n roll hair
Let the good times roll ~ The Cars
posted by Iamthepassenger at 1:41 AM on September 24, 2015

i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it's the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
and i do it just because i want to
because i want to

- Joyful Girl, Ani DiFranco
posted by kristi at 9:13 AM on September 24, 2015

Chipping in late I know, but this thread definitely needs something from Townes Van Zandt & Mike Cooley. Such as ...

"We've got the sky to talk about and the world to lie upon."

To Live is To Fly, Townes Van Zandt

"I used to hate the fool in me but only in the morning, now I tolerate him all day long."

Perfect Timing, Drive-By Truckers (Mike Cooley)

or "if you're supposed to watch your mouth all the time I doubt your eyes'd be above it."

Gravity's Gone, Drive-By Truckers (Cooley again)
posted by wps98 at 7:20 PM on September 24, 2015

Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty but, hey, you're alright
Oh, and that's alright with me ~ Springsteen
posted by Iamthepassenger at 11:58 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ooh, I forgot "Show a little faith, there's magic in the night" - that line alone was my BFF's yearbook quote, in fact. (She would want me to post the link to Thunder Road.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:20 AM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

« Older reviews on Amazon in exchange for free/discounted...   |   (do not) be exelon to each other Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.