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#1
Old 03-09-2003, 01:36 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Los Angeles
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Pearly Dewdrop's Drops

Ah, March 1991.

"Dances With Wolves" was winning 7 Oscars. REM's "Out of Time" was #1 in the U.K. Duke defeated Kansas for the basketball championship. Latvia and Estonia declared independence from the USSR.

I just discovered a mix tape that a girl made for me in March 1991. It's great alternative stuff that I had completely forgotten about, like Hothouse Flowers, Fairground Attraction and the Pogues.

Two songs are by the wonderful Cocteau Twins, and which are almost exact opposites.

One song is "Carolyn's Fingers," which as clear, logical lyrics that you can hardly understand when sung. The other is "Pearly Dewdrop's Drops," which doesn't even sound like English.

A Google search turned up the lyrics. The chorus goes:

We'll get soaked
When Roddy comes
Strings of pearly dewdrop's drops
'Tis a lucky lucky penny penny penny
Buys the pearly dewdrips those

Huh?

I've searched all kinds of Twins fansites and lyrics databases, but I can't for the life of me figure out what they mean. The music is beautiful, but I'm bothered by my complete ignorance of the lyrics.

Alas, the girl who made the mix tape is long gone, so I'm reaching out to the SDMB community.

What do the lyrics to Pearly Dewdrop's Drops mean?


Jason G
#2
Old 03-09-2003, 02:22 AM
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Location: Santa Barbara
Posts: 2,171
Unless things changed toward the end of their time as a band, the Cocteau Twins never published any of their lyrics. Mostly 'cause Liz Fraser was often either a) not singing words at all, b) not singing in english or c) deliberately making the words impossible to understand.

Most examples of lyrics like the what you quoted are bizarre attempts at reconstruction by fans who are possibly unaware that she's singing gibberish or they know it's gibberish and they attempt to transcribe it anyway.

And after a moment's looking, I've found much more complete info here.

Quote:
"What they are [pre-Four-Calendar Café lyrics], are words that I've taken from...maybe seen written down...in a language that I don't understand, and liking them...and maybe...making new words as well out of them. I mean I've got reams and reams of words that I don't have a clue what they mean, but...I wanted them because, I knew I'd be able to express myself without giving anything away." [NPR Interview, 1993].

"The catch is I can barely talk English, isn't it? I quite like that. Combining words in different languages that I couldn't understand just meant that I could concentrate on the sound and not get caught up in the meaning."

"See, I find that mine [lyrics] don't have any meanings. They're not proper. Although I've got a great dictionary of them. It's like the Cockney rhyming slang or something. Writers like John Lennon. Writers that just kind of made up their own portmanteaux that caught on and people still use them. They don't mean anything, though, that's the thing. You know all the transcendent sounds. It's all sound all the way through."
#3
Old 03-09-2003, 05:50 AM
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On the balance Liz Frasier has more recognizable words in her songs than Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance does. Mostly from the first album. And I know "Melonella" is a listing of the Latin names of butterfly families. But just for laughs try "Aikea-Guinea" or "Love's Easy Tears." Obviously the semantics are divorced from the syntax.

Just listen to them a few hundred times and you'll find you can sing along even if you don't know the words. Just don't do it in public if you don't have the range.

-fh
#4
Old 03-09-2003, 06:11 AM
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Liz Fraser's voice should be seen as an instrument just like the guitar or bass (well maybe not "just" like, but you know what I mean). If you're listening to her vocals as words, you're listening to the Cocteaus the wrong way.
#5
Old 03-13-2003, 12:30 AM
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Gotcha.

It sure is beautiful music... but if you're going to write songs, why not have them mean something?

That's probably a thread unto itself, huh?

Thanks Pork Rind, hazel-rah, ruad, for your time.

JasonG
#6
Old 03-13-2003, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JasonG
It sure is beautiful music... but if you're going to write songs, why not have them mean something?
They mean something to her. That's all that matters.

If you want to hear Fraser sing in English, look for the This Mortal Coil album "It'll End In Tears", which has her version of Tim Buckley's "Song To The Siren". The Cocteau Twins also recorded fairly straightforward versions of "Winter Wonderland" and "Frosty The Snowman".

I'm a huge Cocteau fan, but I have to say Fraser's English songs, based on the three mentioned above, aren't nearly as great as her ones in quasi-gibberish. (Granted, two of them are Christmas carols, and the other is a huge act to follow...)
#7
Old 03-13-2003, 01:07 AM
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Love the Twins- Now imagine them in concert- awesome but really no way to sing along to the songs. saw them a couple of days after Kurt Cobain killed himself. dedicated their concert to him.

Heaven or Las Vegas is my favorite next to Pearly Dew Drops Drop.. reminds me of the LDS dances I used to go to when I was in high school. Iwasnt LDS, mind you, but they were the only youth activity that played fairly decent music(in my mind).
#8
Old 03-13-2003, 01:09 AM
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Jason- was your fairground attraction song "Perfect"?
#9
Old 03-13-2003, 01:46 AM
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Well... perhaps we're going a bit far here. Pretty much every album has at least a few tracks where she's singing in English, save maybe Victorialand or Treasure. In particular Garlands, Four-Calendar Cafe and Milk and Kisses are English-rich. Lots of Head over Heels as well.
#10
Old 03-13-2003, 09:51 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
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Nvme77, the song was "Fairground Attraction."

How often do bands actually sing a song named after a band? Before someone posts this as a question, I'll give you one: They Might Be Giants. Also, the Monkees, but they were really just singing the theme song to their show, which doesn't quite count.

"F.A." is downright ghostly, with the carnival calliope and the moaning vocals.

Oh, wait! There was also "Find My Love," a very nice little ditty, also by the Attraction.

The tape I found was in such bad shape, that I've been (uh, lawfully, legally and morally) downloading all the best songs to burn as a tribute CD, appropriately titled "March 1991". I could name it after the girl who made it for me, but my current girlfriend might not appreciate the nostalgia.

JasonG
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