Song Lyric Spotlight: It’s Not My Birthday

Not surprisingly, I’ve always been a fan of song lyrics, often more so than the music itself.

This being a blog about language, I’ve decided that it would be fitting to present my favorite lyrics from time to time.  Lyrics tend to grab my attention due to a clever turn of phrase, a fun play on words or just an elegance that really makes the emotional impact of the song.

Since I mentioned them in last week’s Word of the Week Wednesday,  I felt it would be fitting to feature lyrics by They Might Be Giants.

I’ve chosen one of my favorite of their songs, which exemplifies many of the qualities I mentioned above: “It’s Not My Birthday” (full lyrics) from the EP: They’ll Need a Crane.

The song as a whole is jam-packed with clever phrasing and double-meaning, so it’s hard to choose my favorite part of it but one of the best snippets would have to be:

So, I’m rattling the bars around this drink tank
Discreetly I should pour through the keyhole or evaporate completely
But there’d be no percentage, and there’d be no proof
And the sound upon the roof is only water

It’s got a terrific rhythm to it, which is perceptible even without the music and the liquid imagery adds to the “flow” (pun very much intended).  My favorite part of this verse, though, would be the use of “percentage” and “proof” for both their alcohol-related and mundane meanings.

I intend Song Lyric Spotlight to be a recurring, but sporadic feature of this blog.

If you’ve got a favorite song lyric that you’d like featured on the blog, let me know in comments and tell me what you love about it.


About Dan Kingsepp, ACS, ALS
I'm starting this blog to share my thought on the use of the English language and my experiences as a Toastmaster.

4 Responses to Song Lyric Spotlight: It’s Not My Birthday

  1. Dave Folstad says:

    Lyrics are an interesting topic. Remember Helter Skelter? Charles Manson thought the Beatles were warning him of racial conflict. Lyrics certainly can hold meaning (or not) and be inspiring and even a form of propaganda to others.

    TO ME: For just plain fun and yet meaningful dialogue I enjoy the song “Education” from the musical “Schoolboys in Disgrace” by the Kinks. I love the image of a caveman shaking his fist and being all alone. And then came education!

    Huge topic and seeing it is February 14 ~ I will just mention a few other Beatles songs more apropos for the day.
    All my Loving; All you need is Love; And I love her; Can’t Buy me Love;
    Eight Days a week; I want to hold your hand: and so on.
    Thanks Dan!

  2. I’ve got to give “Education” a listen. I love the Kinks, but I’m not familiar with that one.

    It did occur to me that a love song might be more fitting for Valentine’s Day, but “It’s Not My Birthday” has been running through my head for the last few days.

    I may feature a Beatles song one of these days, maybe “Come Together” or “A Day in the Life”.

  3. Pingback: Song Lyric Spotlight: One Thousand Umbrellas | On Language

  4. Pingback: Song Lyric Spotlight: Girl Least Likely To « On Language

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