Those were the Days
The League of Extraordinary Women
Reminiscing about the days when lyrics were written with heart and a whole lotta soul.
Where do we find stories of women-like-us?
Words by Vera Desai
Mar 24, 2023
Words by Disha and illustration by Tabitha
Feb 15, 2023
Coming from a very musically inclined family, it’s safe to say that music was an integral part of my childhood. My maternal grandfather taught himself the accordion and the piano, by ear. My mother came up just a level or two short of being a concert pianist. My uncles and aunts each played an instrument; one of them sang soprano for the Paranjoti Choir. And my father has always had an audience of teary-eyed women swooning over his voice when he belted out Frankie’s ‘My Way’.
Growing up, every night was music night. My parents would dim the lights, pour themselves a glass of smoky single malt, and the three of us would congregate in front of the record player. Some nights were dedicated to Pavarotti, Domingo, Bach and Tchaikovsky; others to Pink Floyd, The Doors, CCR, CSNY, Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, The Bee Gees, and some old-timey jazz greats thrown in for a well-rounded education. We hummed, we sang, we danced, we cried; the memories of those nights are as clear as day. Because of the music.
But, the day I discovered just how much lyrics can tug at the heart was when I first listened to Neil Diamond’s “I am, I said’. A self-penned autobiography about loneliness and frustration, that went something like this:
“I am, I said. To no one there… And no one heard at all Not even the chair. I am. I cried I am, said I. And I am lost and I can't even say why.”
I must have been all of twelve, but I bawled my little heart out; because even then, his words hit me smack in the chest. They still have the same effect, decades later. As I grew older, my ears dabbled in more than their fair share of music of various genres. But it was always the songs brimming with meaning that got me. Where lyrics were penned down as confessions about life, love, personal struggles and social issues.
Listening to some of the newer ‘music’ these days makes me wonder where all that great, gritty introspection has gone. Don’t songwriters aspire to write lyrics comparable to Waters, Dylan and Cohen anymore? Or maybe something in the vicinity of Bono, Paul Simon and Freddy Mercury?
For example, my major non-lyrical
“Mask on, f*** it, mask off Mask on, f*** it, mask off Percocet. Molly. Percocet.”
Great lyrics are the heart of every song! They have the power to stop you dead in your tracks and make you feel as if your world has briefly tipped over. Ask me what the two greatest lyrics of all time are and my answer will always be the same:
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” and “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year.”
Maybe we need more women who have the audacity to be ordinary
These goosebump-givers may be a blast from the past, but for a writer like me, they will always be immortal.
Vera is the Copy Director at the studio and has helped shape various projects and brands we’ve built.
Disha is a Strategy Director at TOD. She loves to watch movies, cook, go down Wikipedia rabbit holes, and is always open to true crime podcast recommendations
A note about the Journal
For us at Thought Over Design ‘Creativity’ isn’t an end product. It’s an ongoing journey of inspiration that comes from fresh observations of the world, headlong dives into curious obsessions, explorations of art and culture, listening to diverse voices, and a million more places we’re still discovering.
The Journal is an experiment in sharing these musings with the world. It’s a mixed bag of scribbles from our research, inspiration sessions, lateral think pieces, work from designers we admire, pop-culture takes and often our own agenda-free creative pursuits.
The stories and ideas we share here are an attempt to not just gather our own thoughts but also leave the world a little more inspired than we found it.