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Songwriters are not often considered poets. The lyrics of many a top-ten hit can cause a literate reader to shudder - at least in comparison to what we might consider serious literary verse. But occasionally a lyricist emerges that transcends most of the limitations of the pop audience. Jim Morrison was one such songwriter.

If Morrison had never set any of his words to music, I believe he'd still have made an impression as simply a poet. Perhaps not a major American poet, but a significant one. If this seems faint praise, consider The Beatles: for all their greatness as pop songwriters, how many of their lyrics would stand out in a book of poetry - or even get published in a respectable anthology?

One of the pieces that demonstrates Morrison's talent is The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat). This, the penultimate song from his last studio album (L.A. Woman), is a slow blues tune. Morrison's spoken word cadences almost rise to singing at times, but this is essentially a poetry reading with musical accompaniment.

The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)
by Jim Morrison

I want to tell you about Texas Radio and the big beat
It comes out of the Virgina swamps
Cool and slow, with plenty of precision
And a backbeat narrow and hard to master
Some call it heavenly in its brilliance
Others, mean and rueful of the Western dream

I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft
We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping
This is the land where the Pharaoh died

The negroes in the forest, brightly feathered
They are saying, "Forget the night!
Live with us in forests of azure
Out here on the perimeter, there are no stars
Out here we is stoned - immaculate"

Listen to this, I'll tell you about the heartache,
I'll tell you about the heartache and the loss of God
I'll tell you about the hopeless night
The meager food for souls forgot
Tell you about the maiden with wrought iron soul

I'll tell you this
No eternal reward will forgive us now
For wasting the dawn

I'll tell you about Texas Radio and the big beat
Soft-driven, slow and mad, like some new language

Now listen to this I'll tell you about Texas
I'll tell you about Texas
Radio
I'll tell you about the hopeless night
The wanderin', the western dream
Tell you about the maiden with wrought iron soul

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