Song Lyric Tattoos
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Some of us are lucky enough to have found songs that feel like they’re directed solely at you. The beat, the melody, the lyrics etch a portrait of the real you—that secret you whom you think no one knows—and your whole body thrills with recognition: this song is who I am. Now, if that describes your experience with a song and you’re also the kind of person who likes tattoos (and you probably are if you’re reading this), then you might want to try and capture that feeling through ink. If so, you already know the song, probably know the specific lyrics, and are now only worried about where to get it inked. This article is not for you. This article is for those who haven’t gotten so lucky.
It’s for those people who love music but can’t decide which song, which artist—maybe even which genre—they want to pull their lyrics from. Or maybe you just like the look of words inked on flesh, but think the entire literary gambit from Aristotle to Rumi to Yeats is a little too pretentious. Either way, your choice ultimately will come down to two factors: what you think looks best, and what you think will present you in the best light. This article can’t help you with the first, but it can help you with the second. The following suggestions are designed to spark your imagination, are unimpeachable artists in each genre to boot.
- Rap. Want to kick it old school? You can’t get much older than the Sugarhill Gang. Think Sugarhill is too outdated? Then how about the timeless Tupac? Prefer West Coast? Ice Cube might be your man.
- R&B. Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Otis Redding, Barry White.
- Country. Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn.
- Classic Rock. Stay away from glam rock or ballads: they’re too earnest. Instead, look for profundity in bands like the Beatles, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, the Who and the Doors.
- Modern Rock. A tricky, ever-changing category, and you have to think about bands that are likely to assume their place in rock heaven with the bands for #4. Wilco.
- Singer/Songwriter. Paul Simon, the Boss, Carole King, Sting, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Neil Young.
- Blues. Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf.
- Indie Rock. This is another tricky one, as today’s indie rock is tomorrow’s sell out. Picking a band that’s hot now (like, say, Vampire Weekend) could make you look cool in the short term but outdated and pathetic 5 years from now. Your best bet is to go with a band that’s broken up or whose lead singer has died, rendering the band of unimpeachable coolness. The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, the Pixies, Neutral Milk Hotel, Fugazi.