One of my favorite things about music, and especially the music of those who make writing lyrics an artform, is that you can truly interpret whatever meaning you want when you're listening. You may be completely off from what the artist was trying to say, or the artist may have left his or her words open for interpretation, but some of the best lyrics out there, in my humble opinion, are those that can be heard by 100 different people and given 100 different interpretations. (If you're also a lyrics junkie, check out songmeanings.net, where folks debate back and forth what they think the artist is trying to convey.) So let's talk about Mumford and Sons, a fiddle-and-banjo-heavy folky rock band hailing from the UK, who are quickly becoming a household name over here after winning tons of awards, touring extensively, and.. oh yeah... sharing the stage with the Avett Brothers and practically upstaging Bob Dylan at the most recent Grammy Awards. They recorded their first EP in 2007, and I had the privilege of seeing them live at a small venue last year in Nashville. This was before their several Grammy noms ensured they'll be playing arenas in their next go-around.
Solid gold music, people. Solid. Gold. I can't get enough of the jams. And Marcus Mumford's lyrics. That man speaks straight to my soul. But here's the problem... many folks, and especially more conservative Christians (as in, those who are turned off or offended by cussing), probably won't delve into the many, many award-winning layers of beautiful writing and melodies. Why? Because there's a big, fat F-Bomb, the Mother Of All Cuss Words, in the chorus of their first single ("Little Lion Man").
And I'll put it out there... I'm a Christian who isn't offended by a little F Bomb in an otherwise fantastic song. If truth be told, I have a bit of a potty mouth myself at times. I've never claimed to be conservative in general (I'm quite the opposite, in fact). BUT - I get it. And I certainly do not blame anyone for not wanting to buy the CD and play it for their children's delicate ears during carpool (but surely you can purchase an edited version?).
But let me tell you this: if you skip over them completely, you're missing out. Because these dudes are so talented and write lovely, lovely songs. Many of the tunes from Sigh No More ooze with an attention to spirituality and faith. Give "White Blank Page" or "Roll Away Your Stone" a listen. There's some spirit, there, folks. There are some questions, and some longings, and some misgivings. They talk of love, of hope, and also of anger, and definitely of RAGE. (In fact, Mumford says many of his lyrics are influenced by literary authors like Shakespeare and Steinbeck.) You can't listen and not be affected in some way.
My favorite lines of the album come from "Awake My Soul:"
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die Where you invest your love, you invest your life
Isn't that the truth? I also love these gorgeous lines, from the album's title track:
Love it will not betray you Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free Be more like the man you were made to be There is a design, an alignment, a cry Of my heart to see, The beauty of love as it was made to be
And even if you're just a pure jam person who doesn't pay attention to lyrics, you won't be able to resist the banjo/fiddle/harmony super combo they smack you in the eardrum with. Take my word for it. Give them a listen if you haven't already. Maybe it will speak to your soul as it does mine. Here are a few videos for your enjoyment.
So I ask - who are your favorite lyricists? Does a cuss word in a song completely turn you off from the artist?