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10 of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Most Underrated Lyricists

When the discussion of the finest lyricists in rock ‘n’ roll comes up, you tend to hear the same names mentioned again and again. Bob Dylan. Leonard Cohen. Tom Waits. Morrissey. Nick Cave. Warren Zevon. They’re all worthy choices, for sure, but we find it a bit sad that there are plenty of other fantastic lyricists who never seem to make their way into such conversations. After the jump, we’ve put together a collection of lyricists who we reckon don’t get the credit they deserve, either because their music is generally undervalued or because their skills in other areas tend to overshadow their linguistic talents. Let us know in the comments who else you reckon doesn’t get the lyrical love they should do.

James Mercer

The world at large still knows The Shins as that band Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State kept raving about, and even casual fans may find themselves humming along with the band’s infectious melodies without ever really stopping to think what the lyrics are all about. If you take the time to listen, though, you’ll find that Mercer really does have a way with both words and startling imagery — we’re particularly fond of “Pink Bullets” on Chutes Too Narrow, with its descriptions of a broken love affair as like “a book you read in reverse/ So you understand less as the pages turn/ Or a movie so crass and awkwardly cast/ That even I could be the star.”