The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Friday, September 25, 2015

Are Some Country Songs Poetry?

Some might say that mentioning Country Music and Poetry in the same breath is at best an oxymoron and at worst a travesty. IMHOP these readers have a narrow, esoteric, and academic notion of what poetry is.

There are many, many definitions of poetry, almost as many definitions as poems. Here's one I like from Irish poet William Butler Yeats:
Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.
There are numerous country artists whose carefully constructed songs are poetry -- whatever it is -- in its purest sense, such songwriter poets as Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Hank Williams, Kris Kristofferson, and Townes Van Zandt.

Take a look at a couple of videos of songs by two of these songwriters and listen carefully to the words.

First, Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings," performed by Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.

And this is Van Zandt's "Tecumseh Valley." He's singing with Nanci Griffith.

Sad stories. Internal quarrels and remembrances. Robert Frost once said, "Poetry begins with a lump in the throat."

(Reposted from Music City Poetry)

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