Lines and Lyrics

Matt BaileyShea


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Yale University Press
8 February 2022
ISBN: 9780300245677
272 pages

From the publisher

An introduction to poetry geared toward the study of song

"Fusing an approach that engages both lyrics and musical content of English-language songs in a wide swath of genres, Lines and Lyrics gives readers the tools and concepts to help them better interpret songs, in an accessible and enjoyable format."-Victoria Malawey, author of A Blaze of Light In Every Word: Analyzing the Popular Singing Voice

"I can think of no other book that juxtaposes art song and pop song so effectively, in a way that doesn't privilege one over the other. This is a real achievement, and a must-have for anyone who loves words and songs."-Stephen Rodgers, University of Oregon

Bruce Springsteen, Benjamin Britten, Kendrick Lamar, Sylvia Plath, Outkast, and Anne Sexton collide in this inventive study of poetry and song. Drawing on literary poetry, rock, rap, musical theater, and art songs from the Elizabethan period to the present, Matt BaileyShea reveals how every issue in poetry has an important corresponding status in song, but one that is always transformed. Beginning with a discussion of essential features such as diction, meter, and rhyme, the book progresses into the realms of lineation, syntax, form, and address, and culminates in an analysis of two complete songs. Throughout, BaileyShea places classical composers and poets in conversations with contemporary songwriters and musicians (T. S. Eliot and Johnny Cash, Aaron Copland and Pink Floyd) so that readers can make close connections across time, genres, and fields, but also recognize inherent differences. To aid the reader, the author has created a Spotify playlist of all the music discussed in this book and provides time cues throughout, enabling readers to listen to the music as they read.