Image Rich Lyrics

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There are two kinds of great songwriters in the world: those that can tell stories in easy to grasp (yet captivating) words, and those that can paint the richest canvas with image-laden words. Of course, there are many super-great songwriters who can do both equally well, and move between the two at will.

We are familiar with many such talented songwriters (I wrote about one earlier today, Jack Kapanka), largely because Lois has been a devoted listener of words forever, and she deeply cares about who wrote the songs (as I’ve written about often) sometimes more so than who made it famous.

When an artist can also deliver their own creation in a stunning and moving way, that’s when true magic is made. There are many artists who achieve that, including many that we listen to and see frequently. However, no one does it better than Girlyman (at least not in our opinion).

I love nearly every one of their songs, almost equally (though I recently revealed that I still have no trouble picking Hold It All At Bay as the #1 choice). So, while I’m about to pick one specific song to make my point, I am not suggesting that they don’t have other just as special songs, because in fact they have many.

What happens to me with Girlyman songs is that hearing any one of them can suddenly get under my skin (that will become even more meaningful, in an ironic way, in a minute), and I end up playing the song over-and-over in my head, sometimes for days on end.

The current song that keeps playing in my head is The Shape I Found You In. The trigger was hearing Girlyman perform it live in VA (I think it was at Birchmere). We’ve listened to it a bunch of times since in the car as well, but my head plays it back non-stop.

You can check out the complete lyrics (they’re very short). But, as gorgeous as the poetry is, this is also one of those songs that take on an even deeper meaning when performed, in this case specifically by the same artist who wrote the song (Ty Greenstein, supported by Girlyman). Even though the lyrics are short, the pacing of the song is slow, and builds and emphasizes the deepest lyrics in a very emotional way (giving added meaning to the words).

While I often hesitate linking to home-made YouTube videos of live shows, because the quality of the sound and the panning of the camera often don’t show off a group as well as the actual show comes off, I’ll do it anyway, to make my point about how the singing of this particular song is very different from just reading the poetry. In another small-world story, this particular video was shot seven months ago by our recent neighbor at Golding Park Cafe this past Saturday!

Now, to the point of this post. šŸ™‚

None of us are perfect significant others, as much as we’d like to be, or like to believe we are or can be. What we rarely are conscious of though, is that we bring so much baggage from our previous relationships, that it’s nearly impossible to achieve that perfect harmony. When things go badly, we rarely have the insight to realize that a previous relationship created a trigger we couldn’t avoid.

Ty captures this searing insight perfectly in this song. More important, she does it not by telling a story, but by painting a clear picture, in very few words. The famous saying goes: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. But, in Ty’s hands, A Phrase is Worth a Masterpiece Painting!

Here are two phrases that keep going through my head:

But your heart was busy within
Building bomb shelters under your skin


So I felt around in the dark
Building rope ladders into your heart
Climbing hand over hand to get in

Earlier, I said that many of their songs get under my skin. The first phrase above contains Building bomb shelters under your skin. What an image!

When I hear Ty sing: Climbing hand over hand to get in, I nearly cry for everyone who has found the right person, but can’t reach them, because of the damage someone else has caused, previously.

I am grateful every day of my life that Lois and I found each other, and battled (in every sense of the word!) through the scars of our previous relationships, to reach each other’s true core, and make a wonderful life together!