AMP Lyric Forest

When it comes to music, lyrics play a crucial role in creating an emotional connection with the listener, evoking various feelings, be they joy, sadness, anger, or love. At times, they can be the backbone of a song, remaining ingrained in the memories of fans for years to come, and chanted out in jubilation during bands’ live performances. At others, they hide in the background, overshadowed or drowned out by melodies or beats, remaining un-noticed or underappreciated. 

Lyrics have the power to tell stories, express personal experiences, address societal issues and serve as a form of cultural and social commentary. Crucially, lyrics also serve as a form of creative self-expression for both the artist and the listener. They allow the artist to bare their thoughts, beliefs, and personal experiences, inviting the audience to connect and interpret the song in their own way; finding solace, inspiration, and a sense of universal understanding through music.

This ‘lyric forest’ is an opportunity to connect more deeply with the lyrics of three popular songs that address the core AMP themes of ‘Art’, ‘Music’ and ‘Pop Fashion’ from the period of our research. 

Art School, The Jam

“Art School” is a rebellious, punk-rock anthem penned by Paul Weller of The Jam, one of the most successful bands of the British New Wave Punk movement of the late 1970’s.

The Jam had been formed at Sheerwater Secondary School in Woking, Surrey, England, in 1972, featuring Paul Weller on bass and lead vocals, Steve Brookes on guitar and Rick Buckler on drums. Whilst they were central to the emergence of the new British Punk Rock movement, their sound and image were greatly influenced by the British Mod movement of the previous decades, drawing comparisons with the early The Who, The Kinks and The Beatles.

Quintessentially British in their style and outlook, their lyrics were often politically charged, and addressed the social issues of the country, such as the xenophobic violence and class conflict, rife in the 1970’s. Whilst they never truly broke out into the international market, they remain one of the most well respected bands in British music history, with Paul Weller touted as a voice of his generation. 

The song celebrates the concept of a “new art school,” a place where individuals can freely express themselves without fear of judgement or ridicule. It encourages the listeners to embrace their unique qualities, pursue their dreams, and defy societal expectations.

The jury is still out as to whether the lyrics convey a true endorsement of the new ‘art schools’ or were more sarcastic derision of institutions such as Kingston or Chlesea; which in spite of their creative luminosity, could still be considered too conventional or elitist, from the anarchistic, punk perspective.

Lyrics such as “Don’t need permission for everything that you want” convey a sense of liberation and self-empowerment, warning against seeking validation or approval from those established sources of authority in society, such as the government, education or media systems.

The lines “Time is motion and the hands are fast, young words are mumbled, they don’t always last” express the urgency to act upon one’s desires, as time is fleeting; a hedonistic rallying cry of the youth-led ‘Rock and Roll’ culture.

The Jam’s sound would lay the groundwork for the emergence of the Britpop movement of the 1990’s, spearheaded by Oasis, Blur and Pulp, who would continue to build on the tradition of British pop music established by The Beatles: irreverent, poetic lyrics coupled with melodic, guitar-based riffs and anthemic choruses.

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Lyrics

Anything that you wanna do, any place that you wanna go

Don’t need permission for everything that you want

Any taste that you feel is right

Wear any clothes just as long as they’re bright

Say what you want, ‘cos this is a new art school

Do what you want if it takes your mind

Better do it now, ‘cos you won’t have time

And never worry if people laugh at you

The fools only laugh ‘cos they envy you

Time is motion and the hands are fast

Young words are mumbled, they don’t always last

It’s up to us to be sure they understand

Who makes the rules that make people select

Who is to judge that your ways are correct

The media as watchdog is absolute shit

The TV telling you what to think

Anything that you wanna do, any place that you wanna go

Don’t need permission for everything that you want

Any taste that you feel is right

Wear any clothes just as long as they’re bright

Say what you want ‘cos this is a new art school

Do what you want, ‘cos this is the new art school

Do what you want, ‘cos this is the new art school

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Make Your Own Kind of Music, Cass Elliot

This song was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil – a husband and wife song-writing duo who were instrumental in shaping the sound of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s, alongside other luminaries such as Carole King, Burt Bacharach, and Neil Diamond. Known for their meaningful, poetic lyrics that captured the many facets of the highs and lows of life and love, they were awarded the John Mercer Award – the highest honour bestowed by the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

Mama Cass had made her name as the most distinctive voice within the vocal group The Mamas & The Papas, who were otherwise made up of John Phillips, Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty. After the outfit collapsed in acrimony in 1968, Mama Cass would make this song world-famous a year later. She was initially reticent about its overly cheery feel, commenting that, “Bubblegum music is very pleasant to listen to…but it’s like they say about Chinese food: half an hour after tasting it you are hungry again.”

Whilst Cass may have felt they were somewhat vacuous, the chorus’ lyrics “You gotta make your own kind of music, Sing your own kind of song, Make your own kind of music, Even if nobody else sings along” resonated strongly with audiences around the world. 

The song has remained an enduring, empowering anthem about the power of being oneself. Its message of self determination has continued to resonate in later years, being featured in TV series’ Lost and Dexter, The Middle and Sex Education, as well as the movies Free Guy and Beautiful Thing. Whilst also subsequently covered by artists including Roslyn Kind, Marilyn Maye, Barbra Streisand and Paloma Faith, it remains forever associated with Mama Cass, whose creative and vivacious personality were captured so poignantly by the song’s lyrics. On her death in 1974, the rabbi incorporated lyrics from the song into the eulogy at her funeral.

The essence of free-spirited Mama Cass, and of this quintessential Sixties song, continue to resonate with new audiences. In 2022,  following a TikTok mashup featuring “Make Your Own Kind of Music” with a clip from the 2022 film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, the song went viral, being used in over 46,000 video memes. 

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Lyrics

Nobody can tell you

There’s only one song worth singing

They may try and sell you

Cause it hangs them up

To see someone like you

 

But you gotta make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind of music

Even if nobody else sings along

 

You’re gonna be nowhere

The loneliest kind of lonely

It may be rough going

Just to do your thing is the hardest thing to do

 

But you gotta make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind of music

Even if nobody else sings along

 

So if you cannot take my hand

And if you must be going, I will understand

 

You gotta make your own kind of music

Sing your own special song

Make your own kind of music

Even if nobody else sings along (x3)

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Dedicated Follower of Fashion, The Kinks, 1965

“Dedicated Follower of Fashion” is a 1966 song by British band the Kinks, written by the lead singer, Ray Davies. The North London band, who performed at Kingston’s ABC Cinema in September 1964, were one of the most influential groups of the 1960s, famed for hits You Really Got Me (1964), Lola (1970), and their eccentric surrealist take on quaint British life in their 1968 LP The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.

Dedicated Follower of Fashion is a satirical take on the contemporary British fashion scene and mod culture of the mid Sixties, as the youth movement – spearheaded by designers such as Mary Quant and Biba – led to increasingly daring, outrageous and boundary- pushing fashion. Trends changed rapidly, as the ‘Youthquake’ coincided with increased commercialisation and cheaper modes of mass manufacturing, encouraging a new, fashion-conscious teenage demographic to seek to always stay on top of the latest trend, haircut or skirt length, lest they be labelled ‘square’.

Davies composed the song on his typewriter, following an argument with a fashion designer at a party. He said of the encounter “I got pissed off with [a fashion designer at a party] always going on about fashion. I was just saying you don’t have to be anything; you decide what you want to be and you just walk down the street and if you’re good the world will change as you walk past. I just wanted it to be the individual who created his own fashion. … [It was] a terrible brawl. I kicked him, and I kicked his girlfriend up the arse”.

He claimed he wrote the song in one sitting, with no edits or revisions whatsoever. The lyrics won Davies an Ivor Novello Award for songwriting in 1966.

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Lyrics

They seek him here, they seek him there

His clothes are loud, but never square

It will make or break him so he’s got to buy the best

‘Cause he’s a dedicated follower of fashion

 

And when he does his little rounds

‘Round the boutiques of London Town

Eagerly pursuing all the latest fads and trends

‘Cause he’s a dedicated follower of fashion

 

Oh yes he is (Oh yes he is)

Oh yes he is (Oh yes he is)

He thinks he is a flower to be looked at

And when he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight

He feels a dedicated follower of fashion

 

Oh yes he is (Oh yes he is)

Oh yes he is (Oh yes he is)

There’s one thing that he loves, and that is flattery

One week he’s in polka dots, the next week he’s in stripe

‘Cause he’s a dedicated follower of fashion

 

They seek him here, they seek him there

In Regent Street and Leicester Square

Everywhere the Carnabetian army marches on

Each one a dedicated follower of fashion

 

Oh yes he is (Oh yes he is)

Oh yes he is (Oh yes he is)

His world is built ’round discotheques and parties

This pleasure-seeking individual always looks his best

‘Cause he’s a dedicated follower of fashion

 

Oh yes he is (Oh yes he is)

Oh yes he is (Oh yes he is)

He flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly

In matters of the cloth he is as fickle as can be

‘Cause he’s a dedicated follower of fashion

He’s a dedicated follower of fashion

He’s a dedicated follower of fashion

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AMP Kingston:
Art, Music, Pop Fashion

The AMP Kingston Heritage Trail explores and celebrates Kingston’s rich music heritage from the 1960’s to the present day at key sites across the town.

Find out more and explore the map of venues.