NPR logo Top Five Lyrics: Best Song Lines Ever

Top Five Lyrics: Best Song Lines Ever

I was talking with a friend recently who told me she never listens to lyrics. She couldn't even quote a single line from a song, even though there are plenty she listens to and loves. She's probably not alone.

A few years ago Sigur Ros proved you can sing pure gibberish in a made up language and still make beautiful music people will love listening to. I'm thinking of their unpronounceable 2002 album ( ).

But for me, the lyrics are everything. I can take a monotone melody if what they're saying cuts to the bone.

Here are my top five lyrics of all time. In no specific order:

1. "I've got a broken heart and your name on my cast. And everybody's gone at last. — Elliott Smith from "No Name No. 5"

2. "I'm an American aquarium drinker. I assassin down the avenue. I'm hiding out in the big city blinking. What was I thinking when I let go of you? — Wilco from "I'm Trying to Break Your Heart"

3. "When I was drinking, when I was with you, living it up when the rent was due, with nothing and no one to live up to." — Hem from "When I Was Drinking"

4. "I could make a career of being blue. I could dress in black and read Camus, smoke clove cigarettes and drink vermouth like I was 17 that would be a scream but I don't want to get over you." — Stephin Merritt from "I Don't Want to Get Over You"

5. "Don't let it bring you down. It's only castles burning. Find someone who's turning, and you will come around." — Neil Young from "Don't Let it Bring You Down"

Let us know what your favorite lyric is... or give us your top five.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.