I am all for an artist wearing their heart on their sleeve, I am a sucker for it! I always appreciate a song more, when I know the story behind it. Back when I used to sing, it certainly helped me in my interpretation too. I loved singing my own arrangements of songs by Culture Club, because I had read Boy George's autobiography many times (it's a great read, even for a non-fan) and knew precisely what the songs were about. I guess it's like an actor researching a role, but that aside, can a song writer be too honest in their lyrics? Is it anyone's place to judge what is "too honest"?

I'll mention Boy George again, because his most recent solo album had a song that kind of made me uncomfortable, with the passage:


"I hold nothing back, I give it all away 

I am the Thunder 317 

Blue eyed, vulnerable seeking similar 

Camp-acting, very scene, Im flaming, Im screaming 

Looking for someone brave enough to love me"

The song was about a 20YO boy, who had used George for money and fame and broken his heart, fine, but what made him put his internet dating profile in it? I suppose looking for love on the net is hardly shameful in this day and age, but singing about it? It made me uncomfortable, because to me it drew a picture of someone who was "on the edge", so to speak... so to find out he was back on drugs and committing violent acts didn't come as much of a shock to me.

How do others feel about this? I have always had a big mouth. "I'm not honest, I'm blatant!" was my motto and it lead to bullying and exclusion by others. My big mouth still gets me in the odd spot of bother, but I don't open it as often as I used to. Some people might say that the lyrics I write are too honest/blatant, especially those who have hang-ups about sex. If a person is truly happy to air their dirty linen in public, then I guess who am I to say that they shouldn't?

I'm rambling now. I would like to know how others feel.

I would liken you

To a night without stars

Were it not for your eyes

To a sleep without dreams

Were it not for your songs (Langston Hughes)

What else is love for

But to leave you wanting more? (Tim Finn)

My Digital Art, Poetry & Lyrics

Original Post

Well, Boy George wouldn't be the first person to air their dirty laundry in a song.  Taylor Swift, John Mayer, and the list could continue.  I think there is a difference between "airing you dirty laundry" and "wearing your heart on your sleeve".  Take Paul Kelly for instance and songs like "Making Gravy" or "To Her Door".  Paul has a way of writing that almost personalizes the story.  The story may have not have actually happened to him but you feel like you living the story when he sings it.  The two songs I mentioned are kind of sad stories so I find it hard to actually listen to the song.  It's almost so painful to go through it.   Neil, on the other hand, tends  to write from a more detached perspective.  You almost feel that you are observing from a distance.  So I find songs like "Hole in the River" which may be personal to Neil but it's so painful to actually listen to him sing it.

Taylor Swift, you mean "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"? Can't stand the song, but had a look at the lyrics, they are pretty full-on. I know people assume it's about Harry from One Direction. I'm just glad they broke up before they recorded a soppy duet!

Paul Kelly....I had a few tears, when he sang "Making Gravy" at Sound Relief, thinking of those who had lost family members. It was the line "Who's gonna make the gravy?" that got me going. Some songs are meant to make us cry and that's a good thing. Make me cry (with a song) and you've got me for life!

As I  said, the Boy George lyrics made me uncomfortable, because they raised concerns about his mental state. On a side note, I bought the Culture Club boxed set when it came out (I confess) and there's a track entitled "The Shirley Temple Moment", which starts with the band recording the hit single "Victims" and quickly turns into a God almighty row, with lots of name calling and colourful language. It's here if you feel like laughing:


I think it's cool that the guys can laugh at themselves after all these years.

I'm trying to think of other song lyrics that I'd class as "too honest"...Jim Steinman "Surf's Up":


"And my body is burning like a naked wire
I want to turn on the juice, I want to fall in the fire"

Too much information! I find it somewhat degrading to women too.

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