Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

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Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby Inna » 17 Sep 2012, 19:09

Dear RORY'S “Loose Talk” members,

having looked through the topics in this section I couldn't find anything similar except for the one where the lyrics for “I Fall Apart” were discussed.
So I thought it would be good to have a more generalized topic.
Now I'll try to make the point clear. :)

As a non-native speaker I sometimes find it rather hard either to catch some words in songs or to understand what is meant. Of course in the latter case the meaning cannot be always explained when it comes to the artist's vision. Sometimes only the author knows what he or she meant.
However, certain things CAN be explained or, say, commented on by those who are aware of the context, background, allusions, etc.

As for the difficulties with catching the words.. Nowadays it seems easy to deal with the problem, for there are plenty of lyrics websites. Unfortunately, they are cannot be entirely trusted as there sometimes can be mistakes in lyrics and not very seldom in controversial places.

So, I would suggest to discuss here questions concerning Rory Gallagher's lyrics, if you have doubts as to the exact, not quite distinguishable words in songs or the meaning of certain lines, etc.
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Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby Inna » 17 Sep 2012, 19:11

So, allow me to ask a question.:)
Lately I've been listening to “Maybe I will”, such a lovely and tender song. And as if for the first time (though of course it is not the first time I listened to the song) I noticed how beautiful lyrics are! I just love the song!

There is a place in the refrain where Rory goes:
“Wake up in the morning
It's a brand new day.
And though it seems the same,
It's different from yesterday.
Then I … the leaves and put my cup away.”

On the lyrics sites there goes “read” ("Then I read the leaves and …")
But I don't hear “read”, there must be some other word. Or don't I just catch “read”? Am I wrong?

It would be so kind of you to help with this line. Probably I'm not the only one who would love to know the answer.:)
Thank you in advance!:)
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Re: Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby RobertaSparrow » 17 Sep 2012, 20:38



Hello Inna,

His early work is just so very bright and happy.

The lyric sites say "then I read the leaves and put my cup away," but to me it sounds like he sings "then I air-read the leaves and put my cup away." I don't know much about tasseography, but the liquid that remains in the cup is supposed to be carefully drained away after the person drinks it before it can be read. The Wiki site http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Tasseography says " . . . If there remains a drop or two of liquid tea that didn't come off with the draining, these are considered to be tears. It might indicate past or future sadness . . . "

One of his whimsical, forward-looking and happy songs.

:D RobertaSparrow
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Re: Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby Inna » 18 Sep 2012, 05:05

Hello RobertaSparrow,

thank you so much for your reply and for posting the video with the live BBC version of the song! :) It was a real joy to listen to the song again!

Really, how couldn't I guess about tea leaf reading!? Well, most of the times I heard about coffee reading.))

I too hear this "air-read".. But the word seems to make no sense, I mean I didn't find this particular word in the dictionaries and on the Internet either. If it were only "read"... But there are extra sounds.:)
I am at a complete loss. )
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Re: Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby Inna » 18 Sep 2012, 08:17

Or is it possible that Rory sings "Then I ain't read the leaves and put my cup away.."? At least it sounds sensible to my mind.
And what do other board members think? :)

I know this uncertainty will keep torturing me.))
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Re: Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby folkdeejay » 18 Sep 2012, 09:01

I think Rory sings " Then I read the leaves" .... but, as in many songs, the lyrics are sung to a tune, and the "I-rea" bit of the lyric is, for want of a better word, "stretched out" to fit the phrasing.
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Re: Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby Sinnerboy » 18 Sep 2012, 09:12

I reckon folkdeejay has got it spot on, It's not the only place Rory does this vocal technique although for the life of me I can't think of where else he does it, but it's a type of phrasing often used in Country music, which had an influence on his vocal style, you can hear it in some Everley Brothers stuff - they hit the note, then leave a gap before coming back to it. Odd but effective I think.
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Re: Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby Inna » 18 Sep 2012, 09:21

folkdeejay wrote:I think Rory sings " Then I read the leaves" .... but, as in many songs, the lyrics are sung to a tune, and the "I-rea" bit of the lyric is, for want of a better word, "stretched out" to fit the phrasing.


Hello Folkdeejay,

thank you for your reply!
Oh yes, it can be so as well. Though it sounds a little bit strange to me, [ai] turns into [ei] and then there goes "read". Yes, lyrics follow the tune..
Oh, I do love English! I really do! :) And it is my specialization by the way.
And I like the way the English language puzzles me from time to time.)
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Re: Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby Inna » 18 Sep 2012, 09:27

Sinnerboy wrote:I reckon folkdeejay has got it spot on, It's not the only place Rory does this vocal technique although for the life of me I can't think of where else he does it, but it's a type of phrasing often used in Country music, which had an influence on his vocal style, you can hear it in some Everley Brothers stuff - they hit the note, then leave a gap before coming back to it. Odd but effective I think.


Hello Sinnerboy,

thank you for your reply!
Well, it seems both you and Folkdeejay convinced me it is "Then I read ... ".
Yes, it's really amazing and interesting to learn about phrasing that it is quite a common practice.
I didn't know about that.
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Re: Understanding Rory Gallagher's Lyrics

Postby Inna » 18 Sep 2012, 11:42

Many thanks to everyone who have paid attention to the topic! You helped a lot!

Well.. May I have another question?

The other song I've been thinking about is the wonderful "Loose Talk".

In the line "Tight talk from stay-put people" I don't quite get the meaning of the word "stay-put". There is an expression to stay put, but in the lyrics it functions as an attribute. What word could be a synonym to it?

And there's one more question.

To whom does the line "Step on your toes, step on your fingers" refer? It's in the same verse
"Tight talk from stay-put people
Aimed to hurt, aimed to wound
Step on your toes, step on your fingers
Just don't take it; now, don't be fooled"

My version is that it refers to these very "up-tight, stay-put people" who are inclined to step on other people's toes. (Of course it's all metaphorical.)
Though it is an imperative sentence in the form.
Or maybe my version is totally wrong.

I'm afraid everything I write looks like an extract from the English/Literature class where you should analyse an author's piece of work. :)
I hope my questions are not that boring to you.)
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