The Sort of Thing That Used to Bother Me

The Sort of Thing That Used to Bother Me

billwhite51's picture
Artist Favorite




Liner Notes: 

I have tried and failed many times to write a song with long melodic lines that twist and turn and rise and fall before resolving,,,,,kind of how jacques brel might write a samba,,,when ii read stephens lyric i saw that he had succeeded at the sort of thing I wanted to write, and asked if i could try to put it to music. i am so happy he gave me the go ahead. it was so much fun playing with his marvelous lines..


There's a guy who's joined me in the lift, he's going up one storey
And that rascal really has no good excuse
There's a perfectly good staircase ten feet to his left, oh glory
And he's long of leg and shiny-new of shoes

But muggins, on the other hand, is off to level seven
Which is why I scuttled in and flipped the lever
And if you think I'm walking up these steps halfway to heaven
You can go ahead and jump in lake Geneva

And that's the sort of thing that used to bother me until we had a virus roughing up the human race
When suddenly the little things and nothing-meaning-everythings were put quite resolutely in their place
And all the little niggles that formed squiggles in the margins of the largely boring pages of my file
Were cast aside in deference to my rather def'nite preference that I'd like to keep on living for a while

There's a guy who does the crossword and he handwrites like a surgeon
Leaving bluish worms of God knows on the page
And I know he only does it cause the boredom starts to burgeon
And I also know he's trouble spelling beige

But it doesn't leave me much to do when fifteen minutes later
It's my turn to break for coffee and for sanity
I'm left with nought but scribbles and sudoku in the paper
And a thinly-veiled contempt for all humanity


And ain't it great
And ain't it swell
We beat the bug, we're back to hell
The small stuff I at last unlearned to sweat
Is back in mind
Is back in force
And dripping out from all my pores
I never had the priv'lege to forget

There's a guy who's by the window and his politics are terrible
An HR violation on his t-shirt
I wish him no great harm but pray that no-one finds him bearable
Enough to sit and listen to his bullshirt


Please keep your comments respectful, honest, and constructive. Please focus on the song and not the demo.


fresh spotless youth's picture

dude...where's the demo. I'm pretty excited to hear it. I love Jacques Brel so much that I'm gonna have to drop an f-bomb: I fucking love JB. I think he would have been a punk rocker if he'd been born a bit later

billwhite51's picture

demo is up now. seems the computer crashed before it was fully loaded. sorry.

metalfoot's picture

What a fun demo-- I like the approach you took to those long, meandering lines of the chorus. The harmonica on the bridge was great too. Very enjoyable!

kahlo2013's picture

This is my new favorite 5090 song! Love the long lines and the story that unfolds. The details are great and the message is spot on. Really well done. Wonderful feel to this and your vocal delivery is superb.

cindyrella's picture

Oh what a clever lyric and the demo is fabulous! Excellent and fun song!

Gwyn Jones's picture

This is such a superb collab of brilliant and oh so pertinent lyrics by Stephen with the berth of authenticity and authority of Bill's troubadour style...excellent!

fresh spotless youth's picture

Whoa, you went full in on making it so catchy we can all sing along. I love it! I look at these long lines of text and wonder how anyone would be able to set that to music--but here you go. You know I defined pop lyrics as brilliant to sing along with but dismal to read--but these are both. In fact, you need to read it to catch the details: shiney-new of shoes, can't spell beige, etc. Brilliant!

coolparadiso's picture

Yup this is a beauty and loved the lyrics first up. One of the most perfect lyric music matches i have seen for a while.had that Hey there delilah melody and roll but surrounded by much more. Certainly one of the best i have heard!

Technicolor Gramophone's picture

You do a great job putting those long lyrical lines to music! Lyrics top-notch - love "the small stuff I at last unlearned to sweat."

Stephen Wordsmith's picture

I actually studied a few works by Brel as part of my BA in French. If a roguish time-traveller had gone back and sneaked this song into the curriculum, I wouldn't have suspected a thing. Lyrics aside, you've captured the spirit of the man. Bravo.

This is actually how I used to write all my songs, with this tremendous word count. I find this style is about the best way they can be conveyed. Each (long) line of the chrous is a journey in itself. The delivery is wry, clever, and is overall a great treatment of the words. Thank you for putting them to music Smile

Jerry Pettit's picture

Wow! You've definitely got a great "melody" with this. I think melody is my personal weakness--I tend to get the chords and arrangement down and then just...sing. It's problematic, I suppose, trying to churn these out at this high rate. After 50/90 is over, I'm going to work harder on melodies. You've done a great job with this one, Bill!

Vegansongs's picture

Loving the dramatic vocal styling here Bill - it really pushes the song along and I just nod my head..yep. I know that guy. Especially love your phrasing in the chorus so Ray like!! And using rhyming words niggles and squiggles. Excellent!

katpiercemusic's picture

Oh that chorus! So much character. The word fun is strong in this one. I kind of want to bath in these words, they're so satisfying. The lyrics are brilliant and Bill, you pull the brilliance out of it. It's pure charming.

Donna Devine's picture

Stephen's lyrics and his word play are always such a treat. And this piece, like others of his, had me laughing out loud. (Something I very much need to do at the moment. Wink )
And now, in its song form, it's gone far beyond the distance any elevator could take it. Wink An excellent choice of musical and vocal treatment, Bill. A pleasure to listen to.

Jerry Pettit's picture

Hey, late to this particular party--but I really like you "standing there singing a happy tune". This is a different you, and one that I would like to walk past on the street with you singing this song, and I'd stop and put not one but TWO dollars in your hat and give you a thumbs up and tell you to keep at it.

I'm glad you HAVE kept at it!

Adnama17's picture

That chorus is pure Wordsmith magic. Love it! There's always so much density to his lyrics that they almost always seem to benefit from simplier settings like this. I never want to miss a single word he's written! It works really really well here. Wonderful delivery. Well done all!