The Corner


Waxing Lyrical

Mike Love, one of the original Beach Boys, in Lima, Peru, 2005 (Pilar Olivares / Reuters)

Today, I have an Impromptus column, which begins with John Kelly, the late presidential chief of staff. (I don’t say that General Kelly has shuffled off this mortal coil, I mean that he is no longer chief of staff.) Trump presidential press secretaries have said very different things about him. In the course of this column — which is briefish — I touch on some grave issues, Syria being the gravest of all. There are also lighter matters — including a new milestone for Tiger Woods (a weighty issue in golf, to be sure).

Here on the Corner, I wanted to draw attention to an item on the light side. It involves group participation.

The latest episode of my Music for a While is here. In it, I play some Beach Boys — yes, some Beach Boys, and “Good Vibrations,” in particular (sung by the King’s Singers). How did this come about? I tweeted, “Quite possibly, my favorite lyric from any pop song is ‘I don’t know where, but she sends me there.’ It is borderline nonsensical — but so wonderful.” Roger Kimball — the great Roger Kimball, the editor of The New Criterion — replied, “Borderline, maybe, but the right side of the border! Wasn’t it Wallace Stevens who said that poetry resists the intelligence almost successfully?”

Yes. Stevens begins a poem — “Man Carrying Thing” — as follows: “The poem must resist the intelligence / Almost successfully.”

My friend Rahul chimed in with a lyric of his own — I mean, a lyric he thought of: “Praise the grammar police, set me up with your niece.” That comes from “Transport Is Arranged,” a Pavement song.

Do you have a favorite lyric? One that is a little nonsensical — or a lot so — but wonderful or memorable nonetheless? Lemme know —

Please do. And if you’d like to receive Impromptus by e-mail — links to new columns — let me know that, too.


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