The most unusual thing happened to me last week. I was buying tickets for a concert that I’m seeing on Monday. The artist is Bob Schneider. He’s an Austin legend. He’s a songwriter who’s probably going to make linguists come up with a word that goes beyond ‘prolific.’ He’s got a catalog of songs that could one day require its own wing at the music school at U of Texas. And he’s wildly, wildly clever.
At his best, his songs have wordplay that’s reminiscent of early Springsteen, that thesaurus-on-fire kind of flow. If you don’t have lyrics nearby, it might take three or four listens to really hear everything he’s saying.
And last week, when I was listening to one of his songs, I realized that there’s a line he’d come up with that was so good, it made me jealous.
That doesn’t happen too often. Usually, I read something by a great writer or lyricist and realize, That’s out of my league. I’ll have track two of Sgt. Pepper on. The band sings out, “What do you see when you turn out the light?” and Ringo calls back, “I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.” And I know I don’t have a line like that in me.
But damn if I wasn’t listening to one of Schneider’s songs — his latest single, titled “40 Dogs” — and realized that he’d slid in a line that I know, I just know I could have thought up one day.
It’s in a verse that’s got this theme of color running through it. It starts:
Well, you’re the color of a burning brook
You’re the color of a sideways look
From an undercover cop in a comic book
You’re the color of a storm in June
You’re the color of the moon
You’re the color of the night
Color of a fight
You move me
And then, the killer line:
You’re the color of the colored part of The Wizard of Oz movie.
Damn you, Schneider. The color of the colored part of the Wizard of Oz movie. Just…. wow. A few more years and I might have figured out that line for my own.