Here is my response to the latest Lefsetz Letter re. Maroon 5 lyrics (the letter in question can be viewed here):
Dear Mr. Lefsetz;
I can’t do it anymore. I’ve been getting your letter for over a year now. Sometimes I’m intrigued by it, sometimes I don’t like it; sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t. But what I’ve never been able to handle is your mystifying fascination with grade-school quality lyrics. You break down lines that are so cliched as to be laugh-out-loudable as if you’re deconstructing a Canterbury tale. Usually I just hit delete and try to ignore why an intelligent man has the lyrical taste of an illiterate 13-year old girl… but today that changed.
When you got to the part where you were actually analyzing and paying homage to some of the least imaginative and embarrassingly boring lyrics I’ve ever heard in this new Maroon 5 song I actually thought you were kidding. I was convinced it was a wind-up. Your reaction to the line “you turned your back on tomorrow” was an emphatic “Whew!”. Really? This is satirical, right? But as I read on I realized that you were, in all earnestness, blown away by these lyrics. “I gave you my love to borrow but you gave it all away”. These are the kinds of lyrics that make so much popular music unlistenable. And yet you practically deify it.
I just can’t make sense of it. When there’s platinum-sellling artists like Springsteen, who are blue-collar, poetic geniuses, who say something with every song- whether it’s been said before or not, they give it depth and meaning. Or artists like Death Cab For Cutie, who still manage to write catchy-as-shit indie pop tunes but make almost every line mean something. Why are you, who has been privy to so much great music in your time, impressed by the dumbest shit ever written?
“You can’t expect me to be fine
I don’t expect you to care
I know I’ve said it before
But all of our bridges burned down”
What fucking bridges? This is dumb, Bob. Dumb and boring and awful. Children fail creative writing classes for stuff like this. If they don’t, they should. And yet, you’re putting it on a pedestal. You’re embarrassing yourself. You’re embarrassing me for (once) being a reader of yours. You are offering forgiveness to unforgivable music in a time when no such forgiveness need be offered. There is so much good music out there! So many lines of near-poetry embedded in catchy hooks. So many interesting and fresh ways to sing about old concepts like love and sex and fishing or whatever. But you waste our time and your brain cells on Adam Levine lyrics. This is why I can’t be your reader anymore. I hope you understand.
To close, I will offer a quote from the great Maroon 5 that i know you’ll appreciate: ”Even the sun sets in paradise”.
It’s been nice reading you.