Most Thoughtful Lyrics Of The Rock Era?

Most Thoughtful Lyrics Of The Rock Era?

Assuming the Rock Era began around 1955, with Elvis and Bill Haley and Buddy Holly, then we've had almost 60 years of lyrics written by artists ranging from Bob Dylan, Lennon/McCartney, Pete Townshend, and Bruce Springsteen (ask me where the current day lyricists are).  What were the best?  What contained the most thought?  Two options below.  Both tunes are written and worded by, not rockers, but Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.  The songs?  From West Side Story in 1961.

Most Thoughtful Lyrics Of The Rock Era?

The reason we're focusing on two tracks from this "modern day" retelling of Shakepeare's Romeo & Juliet is because they were on the cutting edge in 1957 (when the play debuted) and they still manage to be on the cutting edge of where society is in 2013.  Note that the lyrics need the music as much as the music needs the lyrics.  Then read along with each video.

Our first song is "America."  Sung mainly by the Anita and Bernardo, the song reflects the feelings of immigrants who have found themselves in America.  Filled with stereotypes about both cultures, the song is as biting and critical today as at was when it came out.  Considering immigration "reform" is such a hot political topic nowadays, it'd be interesting to see what Republicans, Tea Party People, and Democrats would think as the tapped their feet to this great song.

The second song is called "Officer Krupke."  While it almost lands in the Novelty Song category, it really stands alone as a song about youth; about misunderstanding; about second (and third and fourth) chances; about passing the buck because nobody really knows what's wrong with anybody.  The lyrics are sharp, the tone both humorous and bitter.  And you've got to wonder, if gangs today are this intelligent (and that good at dancing), maybe we should give them all their own prime time TV shows.  

The question is, are the words to these songs as strong, as powerful, as meaningful as "Like A Rolling Stone" or "A Day In The Life" or "The River"?  What song, or songs, would you say feature the best lyrics of all time?

Dave Philp is Assistant Professor of Music Management at William Paterson University and Chief Organizer Guy of YouChoose, a live events music fundraising and social media company that has raised many, many thousands of dollars for non-profit causes. Join the good fight and help change your corner of the world by visiting YouChoose now: http://myyouchoose.com/. To sign up for our email newsletter, click HERE. Mmkay?