A Tribute To The Musicians Who Are Poets First

by Lauren Martin
"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." – Bob Marley

With age comes taste and with good taste comes better music. As a kid I found my parents' futile attempts to introduce me to Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison as punishment, believing the songs to be just a bunch of boring “old people” music that didn’t make me want to dance or at least shake my blonde bob. As an adolescent, I didn’t understand music as anything other than something fun to sing along with.

As we get older, it’s said that we lose our ability to taste. Our taste buds become desensitized and we begin to crave spicier, more flavorful food.

Food that you once ate religiously as a child becomes blasé and seemingly flavorless. You crave dimension and ingenuity in your food, needing more flavors and layers. This phenomenon is similar to how we come to appreciate music.

Suddenly the same cookie-cutter formulas used to turn simple melodies into chart-soaring singles no longer quench your thirst. You begin to detest the simplicity of the pop music you craved like candy as a child.

You begin looking for something with more soul, more depth as you begin hastily searching for some type of release. You connect with music that answers some longing deep within you, invokes feelings you didn’t know you had.

You want to hear someone else’s pain to accompany your own, and you turn to the musicians who provoke the soul and awaken your own aches and pains in life. Finding music such as this is like finding poetry.

Poetry exists in many forms -- blank verse, free verse, haiku -- but it’s most reachable and engaging form is music. Many musicians cave when it comes to industry standards and chart-topping formulas, buying their verses from others and delivering lines like a script, but there are some who are true poets who just live in a musician's world.

And it't the one who writes from his heart in prosaic and mystifying prose is one who can truly be deemed a poet.

These musicians are poets before they’re musicians and their poems transcend melody and turntables. The lyrics are engaging and captivating because they have the same essence of beautiful verse. They can make you cry with their words; every syllable, every line, a piece of their soul. In honor of the music that has touched us and stayed with us throughout our adolescence and beyond, here's the 10 musicians who really are poets.

Anthony Kiedis

Soft spoken with a broken jaw Step outside but not to brawl Autumn's sweet we call it fall I'll make it to the moon if I have to crawl and With the birds I'll share This lonely view - "Scar Tissue"

While the Red Hot Chili Peppers are comprised by three of the most talented musicians in rock history, Kiedis is an artist in his own right.

The lyrical prose of the ex-heroin-addict has reached monumental success, even in their obscurity. He transformed the music of rock/punk with chilling prose and delicate verses that elevated the status of the music from good to godly.

Jim Morrison

This is the end, beautiful friend This is the end, my only friend The end of our elaborate plans The end of ev'rything that stands The end No safety or surprise The end I'll never look into your eyes again - "The End"

Jim Morrison actually was a poet before he became the lead singer and songwriter for the The Doors. His verses were recognized by a friend to be ideal for song lyrics, and before long, his words were making women swoon. The Doors’ success revolves around the melodies of Morrison and his poems live in books.

Johnny Cash

I hurt myself today To see if I still feel I focus on the pain The only thing that's real The needle tears a hole The old familiar sting Try to kill it all away But I remember everything - "Hurt"

Cash’s success was largely due to his unique voice and prosaic lyrics. He had an ability to bring the listeners on a journey with him.

He penetrated the aches of the lonely and the confused, the criminals and the housewives. He was able to reach deep into your soul and extract a feeling you didn’t know you even had. His pain became your pain and yours, his.

Kurt Cobain

Even if you have Even if you need I don't mean to stare We don't have to breed We can plant a house We can build a tree I don't even care We could have all three - "Breed"

Though shy and uncomfortable in the spotlight, Cobain gained much notoriety for his ability to convey the woes of outcasts everywhere. He gained a large following because he created a voice for the voiceless and the angry. He gave words to his pain and theirs.

Bob Dylan

How can the life of such a man Be in the palm of some fool's hand ? To see him obviously framed Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land Where justice is a game. - "Hurricane"

Great poets are known to comment on society and cultural phenomena without losing the soulfulness of their voice. Dylan was a pioneer in giving a voice to a time and a generation that was experiencing much social unrest.

His music became anthems and protest calls for civil rights, and he was able to effectively comment on society the way no one could through words.

Marvin Gaye

Father, father We don't need to escalate You see, war is not the answer For only love can conquer hate You know we've got to find a way To bring some lovin' here today - "What's Going On"

A pioneer of Motown, Gaye was known for the soul and life he brought into his music. He wrote music that’s transcended time, his words still comforting and healing the broken-hearted.

In an interview with NTE he reported, “I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time.”

John Lennon

The eagle picks my eye The worm he licks my bone I feel so suicidal Just like Dylan's Mr. Jones Lonely wanna die If I ain't dead already Ooh girl you know the reason why. - "Yer Blues"

The words of John Lennon and The Beatles will live through history as the most important music of all time. The most commercially successful band in the history of music, The Beatles influenced countless musicians and bands and changed lives through the course of their music. Another activist, Lennon used his words to promote change and to comment on society.

Etta James

Someday he'll come along The man I love And he'll be big and strong The man I love And when he comes my way I'll do my best to make him stay He'll look at me and smile I'll understand And in a little while He'll take my hand And though it seems absurd I know we both won't say a word - "The Man I Love"

The way one feels the pain in a poem of Bukowski, Etta’s words drip in heartbreak and depression. Throughout a life of drugs and volatile relationships, James, a heroin addict, wrote and sang through the pain, producing some of the most beautiful and chilling songs in the history of American music.

Bob Marley

Old pirates, yes, they rob I; Sold I to the merchant ships, Minutes after they took I From the bottomless pit. But my hand was made strong By the 'and of the Almighty. We forward in this generation Triumphantly. - "Redemption Song"

It was Anthony Kiedis who said, “Bob Marley, poet and a prophet," and that’s exactly what he is. No man has infused as much spirituality or love into his words and his craft.

He is a man of profound feelings and thoughts and has a deep spiritual connection to people and the earth that comes through in his music.

Neil Young

I want to live, I want to give I've been a miner for a heart of gold. It's these expressions I never give That keep me searching for a heart of gold And I'm getting old. Keeps me searching for a heart of gold And I'm getting old. - "Heart of Gold"

Much like Dylan, Young is known for his deeply personal lyrics and unprecedented guitar skills. He was labeled one of “rock and roll’s greatest songwriters” by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and gained notoriety as a soulful melodic genius. He lives on today as one of the most impressive and soulful musicians of the 60s in an era full of greats.

Kanye West

Sometimes I still talk to her But when I talk to her it always seem like she talkin bout me She said you left ya kids and they just like you They wanna rap and make soul beats just like you But they just not you And I just got through Talkin bout what n*ggas tryin to do just not new Now everybody got the game figured out all wrong I guess you never know what you got till is gone. - "Home"

He may be an arrogant assh*le, but Kanye is a goddamn poet. Though he doesn’t come off as the brooding poet-type, like many of his predecessors, West is most definitely a lyrical king.

His verses have been celebrated and reiterated across the world, as it seems that every word was given to him by God (Kanye) himself.

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