Answers: rock and food contest, and a call for bad lyrics

October 26, 2011 • 6:06 am

Yesterday I put up a non-prize contest to guess the rock songs (along with their artists) that included the names of foods. I’ll put below which songs I was thinking of, though the readers clearly found many other ones I didn’t think of.  Too many people Googled, though I asked for your own neuronally-based knowledge.

Hamburger and malt (same song):  “I just can’t stop dancing” by Archie Bell and the Drells

Hot dog and french fries (same song): This is an easy one:  “Under the boardwalk” by the Drifters

Coke (the soft drink): I didn’t think anybody would get this one, at least for the song I was thinking of, “All summer long” by the Beach Boys. And nobody did get it, but some brought up other songs, unknown to me, that include the word “coke” as a drink.  The Beach Boys song, by the way, has some of the worst lyrics I’ve ever heard (we should have another contest on that; MacArthur Park is a contender). Here are a few:

Sittin’ in my car outside your house
(Sittin’ in my car outside your house)
‘Member when you spilled coke all over your blouse

T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs
(T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs)
We’ve been having fun all summer long. . .

Miniature golf and Hondas in the hills
(Miniature golf and Hondas in the hills)
When we rode the horse we got some thrills
Every now and the we hear our song
(Every now and the we hear our song)
We’ve been having fun all summer long

Latte: “Drops of Jupiter” by Train.  This has to be a contender for the worst lyrics of any recent song. These include:

Now that she’s back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey
She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-Bo
Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey . .

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
Your best friend always sticking up for you
Even when I know you’re wrong?

Cake:  “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris. This song peaked at #2 on the American charts in 1968, and I remember the torture I felt each time it was on the radio.

Cherry pie:  “Cherry pie” by Skip and Flip (1960).  But there have of course been many other songs with this comestible.

Pumpkin pie: “Apples, peaches, pumpkin pie” by Jay and the Techniques.

Fudge: “Savoy Truffle” by the Beatles

Fried chicken: See “Drops of Jupiter” above.

Since we’re on to bad lyrics (and I have a whole collection of these), do put below which song has the worst lyrics you know of, and please include the really egregious parts.  Here’s a start:

Daddy loved and raised 8 kids on a miner’s pay,
Mommy scrubbed our clothes on a washboard every day,
Why, I seen her fingers bleed, to complain, there was no need,
She’d smile in mommy’s understanding way. . .

The work we done was hard, at night we’d sleep ’cause we were tard, [The lyrics are “tired”, but it’s pronounced to rhyme with “hard”.]
I never thought of ever leavin’ Butcher Holler.

–Loretta Lynn, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”


In the year 2525,

If man is still alive,

If woman can survive

They may find.

–Zager and Evans, “In the year 2525”

143 thoughts on “Answers: rock and food contest, and a call for bad lyrics

  1. Boney M – Brown girl in the ring, Ra Ra Rasputin, etc – sorry it is tooooo much and I cannot bring myself to write any more of their dreadful lyrics and terrible tunes.

  2. Not only does “In The Year 2525” have terrible lyrics, it’s high on my list for all-time worst song, period.

  3. I’m kicking myself for not thinking of “Savoy Truffle/Fudge”.

    So many bad lyrics songs: “Surfin’ Bird” by the Trashmen: Everybody’s heard…about the bird…bird, bird, bird… the bird is the word. I still like the song, and I like “All Summer Long”, but I agree the lyrics are bad.

    Another bad one: “Band on the Run” by McCartney. McCarney is a real genius, and wrote some great lyrics. I am stunned that this one is so bad:

    “The rain exploded with a mighty crash as we fell into the sun. And the first one said to the second one there: ‘I hope you’re having fun'”. Also: “The county judge, who held a grudge will search forevermore.”

    Anyone who rhymes “judge” with “grudge” should be shot! (But even Dylan did it!).

    Must be the drugs.

    1. I completely disagree. “The rain exploded with a mighty crash as we fell into the sun. And the first one said to the second one there: ‘I hope you’re having fun’” are a genius pair of lines.

      Yes, rain+sun do not make (much) sense in a literal way. But the line evokes intense imagery and the feelings of a breaking free after being imprisoned in a cell for years. What are two things likely to be missed trapped in a cell? The feeling of rain, and the feeling of the sun, both of which conjure up a general feeling of being “outside”. “explosion” and “crash” invoke the sense of a literal explosion of the prison wall, while “fell” suggests they are a bit dazed/stunned/overwhelmed.

      The line about “having fun” invokes the simple joy of being alive, free, living in the moment… kind of a “whatever happens next, this was worth it” feeling.

      Those lines come on the heels of the musical transition from the earlier, somber, sections depicting the despair of imprisonment and the longing for freedom.

      Anyway, it is the imagery and emotions evoked that are key. If you hear it and just think along the lines of “that doesn’t make sense, how stupid” you are missing out on something. 🙂

      I would argue that those lines are the linchpin of the whole song and an important reason why it reached #1.

      Oh and judge/grudge? What’s wrong with that? In one line it conjures up an old western trope of the corrupt judge who’s motives are not entirely about “justice” who has some ongoing feud with the band of outlaws, and who likely gave them a much harsher sentence than they deserved.

      Ultimately, to each their own.

  4. Does one bad verse in an otherwise ok song count? I never liked this verse from Steve Miller Band’s Take The Money And Run:

    Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
    You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
    He ain’t gonna let those two escape justice
    He makes his livin’ off of the people’s taxes

    It’s the last line that seems to me to be particularly weak. I do like the song overall though.

    1. Yes, one bad verse can ruin a song. Speaking of Steve Miller, I think “The Joker”, with its meaningless neologism, is even worse:

      Some people call me the space cowboy yeah
      Some call me the gangster of love
      Some people call me Maurice
      Cause’ I speak of the pompetous of love

      1. I think he (Steve) is referencing back to The Medallions in that verse (from “The Letter”):

        Oh my darling, let me whisper
        sweet words of pizmotality
        and discuss the puppetutes of love.

        And I think that sort of reference saves that verse.

    1. Hey, I was going to nominate *those* lyrics!
      But the group?? I think it was “1910 Fruitgum Co.” which I can nominate as the worst bad name ever.

  5. MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
    All the sweet, green icing flowing down…
    Someone left the cake out in the rain
    I don’t think that I can take it
    ’cause it took so long to bake it
    And I’ll never have that recipe again
    Oh, no!



      1. It was written by Jimmy Webb. “Wichita Lineman”, “Up, Up and Away”, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, etc.

      2. Agree with dave. I never liked it, but after a relationship of ~30yrs crashed & burned, for some reason it started playing in my head all by itself and then I understood the metaphor.

      3. It’s a what? A meat semaphore? So, like…the cows are standing up, Gary Larson style, waving signal flags?

        Yeah, that would make for some pretty bad lyrics….


  6. What about Sandi Thom’s “I wish I was a punk rocker (with flowers in my hair)”
    The sad thing is, the song is superficially well written, but the title just makes me cringe… (and not the title’s grammar)

    But I do love how the Sex Pistols manage to rhyme “anarchist” with “antichrist”.

    1. “But I do love how the Sex Pistols manage to rhyme “anarchist” with “antichrist”.”

      Well they do, but
      “I – am an anarchist, I – am an anarchist, … I – am an Antichrist, I – am an Antichrist”?

      Get over yourself!

  7. Black Sabbath lyrics are brilliant, they’re like poems written by kids. Take “Iron Man”:
    “Is he alive or dead?
    Has he thoughts within his head
    We’ll just pass him there
    Why should we even care?” etc.

    Gets better with “Fairies wear boots”:

    “Goin’ home, late last night
    Suddenly I got a fright
    Yeah I looked through a window and surprised what I saw
    A fairy with boots and dancin’ with a dwarf,

    Yeah, fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
    Yeah I saw it, I saw it, I tell you no lies
    Yeah Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
    I saw it, I saw it with my own two eyes!”

    1. I really like Fairies Wear Boots (possibly or possibly not inspired by a group of skinheads, the), but yeah always felt a bit embarrassed about Iron Man (they’re one of my favourite bands though).

      Don’t forget the opening lines of War Pigs:

      Generals gathered in their masses,
      Just like witches at black masses

      It’s a great song, but I’ve never been able to decide if rhyming one word with the same word is genius or terrible.

      1. But it is not the same word. OK, it depends on how you define “word” — but many would argue it is two different words that happen to have the same spelling & pronunciation. Clearly the meanings are quite distinct “crowd” vs. “religious ceremony”.

  8. Ohio Express, “Yummy Yummy Yummy (I Got Love In My Tummy)”

    Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,
    I got love in my tummy,
    And as silly as it may seem;
    The lovin’ that you re giving,
    is what keeps me livin’
    And your love is like
    Peaches and cream.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to hurl.

    1. Both the lyrics and the melody are bad, but what makes the song vomitous for me is their combined influence. Egah. 😛

  9. “I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me”

    – from “I’ve never been to me”, Charlene

    The worst song ever and the worst lyrics ever. I literally have to leave the building if it comes on.

  10. Apologies in advance for this one.

    Billy Ray Cyrus, “Achy Breaky Heart”

    But don’t tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
    I just don’t think he’d understand
    And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
    He might blow up and kill this man

    [At least I didn’t post “Honey (I Miss You)”, Bobby Goldsboro)]

    1. There’s someone on this site who occasionally mentions the David Lynch movie ‘Mullholland Drive’ as being an allegory of the bible. One of the parallel features of the story involves the ‘Eve’ character getting seduced by the Devil – who is played by a swarthy looking actor with a serpent tattoo. I saw the movie recently and noticed that the actor playing this devil character is none other than Billy Ray Cyrus!
      ‘Achy, Breaky, Heart’ is the work of the devil?

      1. That actually makes sense–why else would a song that terrible become so popular (and have a dance to go along with it), other than a deal with the devil? 😉

    2. And speaking of Bobby Goldsboro, that travesty of a song about his one-night stand with an older woman had a line that went something like

      “She was 31, I was 17
      I knew nothing of love, she knew everything”

      I dunno, when I was 31, what I knew about love could not be summed up as “everything”.
      I suppose “I knew nothing of love, and she was a bit sketchy on the details” doesn’t scan so well…

  11. How about every damn word of “Float On”, Modest Mouse?

    Bad news comes don’t you worry even when it lands.
    Good news will work its way to all them plans.

    [I could do this all day. Apparently I’m very opinionated when it comes to songs]

  12. Last one, I swear.

    Cracker, “Guarded by Monkeys”

    You are so beautiful
    You should be hid deep in the jungle
    On some forgotten island

    I heard about you
    I got your PGP key
    I write you letters every day

    You are so beautiful
    You should be guarded by monkeys
    You are so beautiful

    1. Also brings back sleazy memories of execrable hair band Warrant singing Cherry Pie:

      Dirty, rotten, filthy, stinkin’

      She’s my cherry pie
      Cool drink of water such a sweet surprise
      Taste so good make a grown man cry
      Sweet cherry pie, yeah


      Well, swingin’ on the front porch, swingin’ on the lawn
      Swingin’ where we want ’cause there ain’t nobody home
      Swingin’ to the left and swingin’ to the right
      I think about baseball, swing all night, yeah
      Yeah, yeah


      More swingin’ ensues.

  13. I have always been bothered by this passage in The Turtles’ “Happy Together:”

    No matter how they tossed the dice
    It had to be
    The only one for me is you
    And you for me

    I may not be for you, but you are DEFINITELY for me.

    1. Ah, but worse was their “Elenore: “Your looks intoxicate me, even though your folks hate me…”

    2. The problem is you cannot hear the punctuation. Try this:

      The only one for me is you. And “you” for “me”.

      The second “for” is used in the sense of “swapped for”, as in the previous sentence.

      You can also interpret the second sentence as “And you [have the same feeling] for me”, which I suspect is the more literal intention, but it carries the same idea of “swapping roles” in the relationship expressed in the previous sentence.

      Contextual semantics, rhythm, and word order trump grammatical construction here. The meaning is clear, and the “you” and “me” swap places in identical rhythmic patterns, which musically reinforces the swapped semantic roles of ‘you’ and ‘me’.

      I find the lyric both odd and clever. Wouldn’t call it “bad” by any stretch. I do wonder what the writer was thinking about it — did he not notice the grammatical flaw at all, or did he not care, or did he reason along the lines I provide above?

  14. This is apparently not what the contest is about, but I actually think those lyrics from “Coal Miner’s Daughter” are quite good compared to a lot of popular songs nowadays, which seem to take one phrase and repeat it endlessly. That’s what I really can’t stand: mindless repetition!

    1. Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!

      Boy do I hate that song. I don’t spend TOO much time at college bars but it’s unavoidable if you do. Not rock though, so I don’t know if it counts.

    2. Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition …..etc….

      “Repetition” by The Fall

      I think they meant it ironically, though.

  15. Off topic, but an idea for another post is song lyrics with famous double entendres. My friend and I always wondered about Tiny Dancer, by Elton John…when he says “Jesus freaks out in the streets” – are there “jesus freaks” or is jesus himself freaking out?

    1. Well, “Yummy yummy yummy” has already been mentioned.

      If you really want over the top double entendres, you should also consider blues. That genre has some really amusing ones.

    2. I’ve always wondered about Paul Simon’s “Duncan”:

      “Well she took me to the woods
      And she said Here comes somethin’ and it feels so good
      And just like a dog I was befriended.”

      Probably not the image he was trying for, I’m guessing.

      1. I’ve heard that song a million times and never thought of that. I don’t know if that makes it better or ruins it. Better, probably.

  16. How about songs meant to be bad, such as The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band’s “Kama Sutra”:

    Kama, Kama, Kama Sutra with me! Yeah, yay!
    Kama, Kama, Kama Sutra with me! Yeah, yay!

    We tried position 31
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
    It was terrific fun
    In position 72
    You were me, and I was you


    Or song titles better than the song mostly semiparodies of Country & Western:

    “I’d Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me than a Frontal Labotomy”

    “How Can I Miss You When you never Go Away?”

  17. Oh, no wonder I couldn’t get any of them. I was expecting songs that were release after I was born (and I’m not young).

  18. Unless I look them up, I always get the lyrics wrong. I never understood why Enya was singing “save the whales” nor why the BeeGees sang “and she came to me on a submarine”

  19. Re:Nom de Plume: If you’re not older than Drops of Jupiter, than you are very young 😀

    (Also, Encore is one of my favorite games! I probably would have guessed more if you hadn’t limited to rock… My definition of what rock music is is rather narrow).

    I always hated “Oh where Oh where could my Baby be?” It is not only horribly sappy, it has maddeningly inconsistent meter and rhyme…

    “When I woke up
    The rain was pouring down
    There were people standing all around
    Something warm falling into my eyes
    But some how I found my baby that night
    I lifted her head
    she looked at me and said
    Hold me darling just alittle while
    I held her close
    I kissed her our last kiss
    I found the love I knew I had missed
    but now she’s gone
    even though I hold her tight
    I lost my love, my life that night”

    1. I hate it too, but it’s called “Last Kiss”. Thanks a lot for making me read the lyrics to detemine that. Now I need to wash by brain again.

  20. My head is absolutely swarming with horrible lyrics. Nothing I can repeat on a somewhat family-friendly website, though.

    I seem to remember this gem from Jimi Hendrix (covering a Curtis Knight tune, Gloomy Monday)

    “I can’t wait for the weekend…
    …that’s when we have so much fun.
    I can’t wait for the weekend…
    …that’s when the whole week is done.”

  21. I don’t think they’re bad, but they’re sure LOLzy:

    Elenore, gee I think you’re swell
    And you really do me well
    You’re my pride and joy, et cetera.

    The reason that they are OK is that the Turtles spent their entire career writing parodies of pop songs.

  22. OK – this is love-hate – Teach-in who won the Eurovision Song Contest – home of the bad ditty – with ‘Ding dang dong’. I Love the song, it is perfect pop, bright, breezy with a catchy tune (this from someone who loves The Gun Club, Sisters of Mercy etc etc!), but – the last line of the first verse?!

    When you’re feeling alright,
    Everything is up-tight,
    Try to sing a song that goes ding, ding-a-dong.
    There will be no sorrow
    When you’ll sing tomorrow
    And you walk along with your ding dang dong.

  23. bad’ lyrics are the norm.  I think a thread on ‘good’ lyrics would be a great read.

    Sorry; i’m not trying to kill this thread (i like it), i’m just hoping for a thread on ‘good’ lyrics as i’d love to hear the opinions of this intelligent group of WEIT readers.

    I’m sure there are many songs people are familiar with melodically, but might not have picked up on subtle gems in the lyrics that could potentially enhance the experience.  My favorites are those lyrics that are not only clever and beautiful by themselves, but compliment and communicate with the music to paint a scene;  Tom Waits’ “Warm Beer, Cold Women” just came to mind.

    It’s such a difficult thing to do.  Just one pretentious word can ruin an entire song for me.

    1. I’m probably just too weird for words, but my favorite lyrics would be too hallucinogenic for most people. “Making Love to a Vampire with a Monkey on my Knee” (Capt’n Beefheart) comes to mind. But yes, anything by Tom Waits gets my vote, too.

      I just love Beefheart’s imagery though. “Sam With the Showing Scalp Flat Top… particular about the Point it made.” I’m sure many would put this on a worst-of list.

    2. Well, for verity it’s hard to beat “Why Does the Sun Shine.”
      The sun is a mass of incandescent gas/
      A gigantic nuclear furnace/
      Where hydrogen is built into helium/
      At a temperature of millions of degrees


    3. If you’re looking for good lyrics, I’d recommend The Waterboys latest album, An Appointment With Mr Yeats. It might be considered cheating as Mike Scott has just put WB Yeats words to music. It is rather good though.

      1. Forgot to pst my favourite Yeats “lyric” from the album.

        An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

        I know that I shall meet my fate
        Somewhere among the clouds above;
        Those that I fight I do not hate,
        Those that I guard I do not love;
        My country is Kiltartan Cross,
        My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
        No likely end could bring them loss
        Or leave them happier than before.
        Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
        Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
        A lonely impulse of delight
        Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
        I balanced all, brought all to mind,
        The years to come seemed waste of breath,
        A waste of breath the years behind
        In balance with this life, this death.

    4. Dire Straits’ “Walking in the Wild West End” has great lyrics from start to finish IMO.

      One part goes:

      “My conductor on the No. 19, she was a honey
      Pink toenails and hands all dirty with the money
      Greasy, greasy, greasy hair
      Easy smile
      She made me feel 19 for a while.”

      Having ridden London buses for a long while, I get a great mental picture of the old Routemaster buses every time I hear this song.

  24. Now I gave myself an earworm:

    Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up my appetite
    looking forward to a little afternoon delight.
    Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ingite
    and the thought of rubbin’ you is getting so exciting.

    Sky rockets in flight. Afternoon delight. Afternoon delight.

  25. I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
    It felt good to be out of the rain.
    In the desert you can remember your name,
    ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.

    Ironical, with that last line causing a lot of pain. Thank you, America.

    1. “Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.” – that came into my mind as a real feckin’ winner, too! 😀

      Thank you for saving me from having to cut and paste it – even that is too close for comfort.

      1. Don’t they also sing something about Oz not givin’ nothin’ to the Tin Man? The double negative is alive and well!

        1. It’s worse than I thought. I just Googled the line and it’s:

          Oz never did give nothin’ to the Tin Man…

  26. I always liked Dave Barry’s take on the subject:

    ‘On the other hand, it would not trouble me if the radio totally ceased playing ballad-style songs by Neil Diamond. I realize that many of you are huge Neil Diamond fans, so let me stress that in matters of musical taste, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and yours is wrong. Consider the song “I Am, I Said,” wherein Neil, with great emotion, sings:

    I am, I said
    To no one there
    And no one heard at all
    Not even the chair.

    What kind of line is that? Is Neil telling us he’s surprised that the chair didn’t hear him? Maybe he expected the chair to say, “Whoa, I heard THAT.” My guess is that Neil was really desperate to come up with something to rhyme with “there,” and he had already rejected “So I ate a pear,” “Like Smokey the Bear,” and “There were nits in my hair.”

    So we could do without this song. I also believe that we should use whatever means are necessary—and I do not exclude tactical nuclear weapons—to prevent radio stations from ever playing “Honey,” “My Way,” “I Write the Songs,” “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” and “Watchin’ Scottie Grow.” I have holes in my car radio from stabbing the station-changing button when these songs come on. Again, you may disagree with me, but if you know so much, how come the radio industry didn’t randomly survey you?’

    –from “Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up”

    1. Jeremiah was a bull frog
      Was a good friend of mine
      I never understood a single word he said
      But I helped him a-drink his wine
      And he always had some mighty fine wine

      Joy to the world
      All the boys and girls, now
      Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
      Joy to you and me

      If I were the King of the world
      Tell you what I’d do
      I’d throw away the cars and the bars and the wars
      And make sweet love to you
      Sing it now

      Joy to the world …

      You know I love the ladies
      Love to have my fun
      I’m a high night flier and a rainbow rider
      And a straight-shooting son of a gun
      I said a straight-shooting son of a gun

      Joy to the world…

    2. Neil, with great emotion, sings:etc.

      I think that is the key. Most of the songs listed here were done for laughs and the song writer/singer KNOWS the lyrics are silly.

      I think the top prizes should be reserved for the ones that are done seriously. The pretentious air of offering something profound make the silly lyrics all the more offensive: like MacArther’s Park & In the Year 2525.

  27. ELP: Still, you turn me on:

    Every day a little sadder
    A little madder
    Someone get me a ladder

    Or this one, worth(?) quoting in full:

    Benny the Bouncer

    Benny was the bouncer at the Palais de Dance
    He’d slash your granny’s face up given half a chance
    He’d sell you back the pieces, all for less than half a quid
    He thought he was the meanest-
    Until he met with Savage Sid

    Now Sidney was a greaser with some nasty roots
    He poured a pint of Guinness over Benny’s boots
    Benny looked at Sidney
    Sidney stared right back in his eye
    Sidney chose a switchblade
    And Benny got a cold meat pie
    Oh! what a terrible sight
    Much to the people’s delight
    One hell of a fight

    Sidney grabbed a hatchet, buried it …. in Benny’s head
    The people gasped as he bled
    The end of a Ted?

    Well, they dragged him from the wreckage of the Palais in bits
    They tried to stick together all the bits that would fit
    But some of him was missing
    And “part of him” arrived too late
    So now he works for Jesus
    As the bouncer at St. Peter’s Gate

    1. That ELP line that ends in “someone get me a ladder” always cracks me up. He’s so damn dramatic about what is clearly a late night decision to finish the verse with any available rhyme.

  28. I kind of like the band Phish, but they sure have some execrable ‘psychedilic’ lyrics. There’s this gem:

    Control for smilers can’t be bought
    The solar garlic starts to rot
    Was it for this my life I sought?
    Maybe so and maybe not

    and then, in a biological theme (to be fair, apparently written in like 8th grade, but still):

    I look into the finance box
    Just to check my status
    I look into the microscope
    See the Golgi Apparatus

    Golgi, oh, woe is me
    You can’t even see the sea
    Golgi, olgi, oh ooo olgi

    They call him Lysosome
    Cause he runs so fast
    Runs like a junkyard dog
    With a brain of brass

    I saw you
    With a ticket stub in your hand
    Under the light
    Middle of the night
    Couldn’t get it wrong
    So I had to

    Look into the finance box…

  29. An example of a group completely losing their credibility from one bad lyric is the band ABC, who had 4 (UK) hit singles from their (soul-dance-rock-pop) debut album in 1982.

    However, the first single from their 2nd album featured the line:

    “Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble.
    Help yourself to another piece of apple crumble.”

    Their career crashed pretty much overnight.

  30. Hard to be any worse than this novelty song composed in 1943 by Milton Drake,I sang it at school and hated it.

    “Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
    A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe?” What the heck is that all about?

    1. I actually love this novelty song because the words do make sense if you parse them:

      Mares eat oats, and does* eat oats
      And little lambs eat ivy;
      A kid will eat ivy, too,
      Wouldn’t you?

      *as in female deer

    2. My mom used to sing that song too, but I never saw the lyrics written. I always heard the “correct” version: “Mares eat oats…”, perhaps because my mother always enunciated it that way.

      Check the wikipedia article:

      Apparently other than the chorus there is a verse which explains how to hear the sensible words in the nonsense words.

      You must have only been taught the chorus in school.

      1. I know a ditty nutty as a fruitcake
        Goofy as a goon and silly as a loon
        Some call it pretty, others call it crazy
        But they all sing this tune:

        Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
        A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?
        Yes! Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
        A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?

        If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey
        Sing “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy”

        Oh! Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
        A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you-oo?
        A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?

        They had some great nonsense songs in the 1940s:
        “Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la
        Check-a-la romey in a bananika
        Bollika, wollika, can’t you see
        Chickery chick is me?”

        But that’s for another thread.

  31. As far as ”Cherry Pie”, I see you come up with Skip & Flip (1960) like I did from Googling, and I thought that was odd since Mando & the Chili Pepper’s version is 1957. Mando’s liner credits Joe Josea & Jules Taub for the song; Francis Day & Hunter Ltd for the copyright. But thanx to YT, it seems that Marvin & Johnny did the original, which is the one I remember.

    But Mando’s cover is better.

  32. BTW, don’t beat up on Loretta. That was autobiographical, unlike the sad sack redneck songs that pollute mainstream country music now.

    And for the best dismissive commentary on that genre, I refer you to Ron Thomason on the Dry Branch Fire Squad’s “Live at the Newburyport Firehouse” CD.

  33. Oh dear lord preserve us from dreck like “Heart in a blender” by Eve-6. I distinctly remember the first time I heard it, driving home from work, thinking to myself “That’s it. Rock and roll is dead.”

    I would swallow my pride
    I would choke on the rind
    But the lack there of would
    Leave me empty inside

    Swallow my doubt, turn it inside out
    Find nothin’ but faith in nothin’
    Wanna put my tender
    Heart in a blender
    Watch it spin round to a beautiful oblivion
    Rendezvous then I’m through with you

  34. As a grammar Nazi, I’m amazed that no pop songwriter knows the difference between “lie” and “lay.”
    “Lay lady lay, lay across my big brass bed.”
    and even Clapton: “Lay down Sally….”
    Both are very pleasant songs absolutely ruined for me by the jarring misuse of language.

    1. Or perhaps pop songwriters learned the lay/lie rule in grade school, recognized it as pointless, and promptly chose to ignore it for the remainder of their lives, like any sensible person. (sorry, can’t resist the dig)

      The rule creates confusion and does absolutely nothing to enhance communication. Indeed “lay” is a far better choice in any sentence where “lie” might be confused with “prevaricate”. This is true even if the full sentence or larger context clarifies the meaning. Using “lay” can eliminate even momentary ambiguity thus enhancing communication efficiency.

      Take “lay lady lay” for example. The meaning is obvious. Now “lie lady lie” — you don’t know if he is say “recline” or “prevaricate” until you get to “lie across my big brass bed”. “Lay” also alliterates nicely with “lady”.

      “Lie down Sally” not ambiguous (well it is fleetingly ambiguous until you get to th word ‘down’) but neither is “Lay down Sally”.

      Both of the Lyrics you cite are examples of excellent *use* of language for its intended purpose — efficient communication.

      Following the lay/lie rule is the *abuse* of language. It is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put.

    2. Grammar sometime jars me too. For laughs, I sometimes sing to myself:

      I see you every morning,
      Outside the restaurant-LY
      The music plays so nonchalant-LY.

      [Lonely Days / BeeGees]

  35. I like this tune so much that I have two copies on different albums. Sung with incredible heart and soul, but really stupid lyrics.

    Naked If I Want To by Moby Grape

    Would you let me
    Walk down your street
    Naked if I want to?
    Can I pop fireworks
    On the 4th of July?
    Can I buy an amplifier
    On time?
    I ain’t got no money now
    But I will pay you before I die.

    Next you need a thread on misheard lyrics. My faux pas was with “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, which I sang (to the great amusement of my sister and her friends) as, “Tryin’ to steal the limits of your love”.

  36. When you gonna give it to me, give it to me.
    It is just a matter of time Sharona
    Is it just destiny, destiny?
    Or is it just a game in my mind, Sharona?
    Never gonna stop, give it up.
    Such a dirty mind. Always get it up for the touch of the younger kind.
    My my my i yi woo.
    M M M My Sharona…

    Thread over.

  37. Having my Baby by Paul Anka (the whole thing)

    The Way You Love Me by Faith Hill (I mean, do you know any guys who want to or at least would admit to wanting to watch themselves kiss, etc.?)

  38. “I’d Love to Change the World” from Ten Years After is another good example of trying to come up with a word that rhymes (even if it makes no sense):

    Population keeps on breeding
    Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
    Life is funny, skies are sunny
    Bees make honey, who needs money, Monopoly

  39. …I’ve got your picture, I’ve got your picture
    I’d like a million of you all round my cell
    I want a doctor to take your picture
    So I can look at you from inside as well…

    …No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women
    No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it’s dark
    Everyone around me is a total stranger
    Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger
    That’s why I’m turning Japanese
    I think I’m turning Japanese
    I really think so…

    Unless, of course, we are talking about Rick Moranis’ version. Then the lyrics are awesome.

  40. LFO – Summer girls.

    New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits.
    Chinese food makes me sick.
    And I think it’s fly when girls stop by for the summer (for the summer).

    That’s about the sanest lyric in said song.

  41. Africa by Toto

    The wild dogs cry out in the night
    As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
    I know that I must do what’s right
    As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
    I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become


  42. The all-time undefeated champion of bad lyrics has to be Jon Anderson of Yes. Here’s a brief sample from The Revealing Science of God on Tales From Topographic Oceans:

    Dawn of light lying between
    A silence and sold sources
    Chased amid fusions of wonder
    In moments hardly seen forgotten
    Colored in pastures of chance
    Dancing leaves cast spells of challenge
    Amused but real in thought
    We fled from the sea whole
    Dawn of thought transfered through moments
    Of days under searching earth
    Revealing corridors of time provoking memories
    Disjointed but with purpose
    Craving penetrations offer links
    With the self instructors sharp
    And tender love as we took to the air
    A picture of distance
    Dawn of our power we amuse
    Re descending as fast as misused
    Expression, as only to teach love as
    To reveal passion chasing
    Late into corners, and we danced from the ocean
    Dawn of love sent within us
    Colors of awakening among the many
    Won’t to follow, only tunes of a different age
    As the links span our endless caresses
    For the freedom of life everlasting
    Talk to the sunlight caller
    Soft summer mover distance mine

    What was he on? Religion, apparently. And he could go on like this for pages.

    1. I have to confess I always enjoyed Anderson’s lyrics when considered as a sort of free-association word salad of fragmentary images chosen more for euphony than for meaning. In that respect it’s kind of like scatting; you don’t expect it make sense, you just appreciate the flow of it.

  43. When I was in high school, I worked for a summer with a contractor, and this song was played on the radio approximately 500 times every hour:

    “She comes down from Yellow Mountain
    On a dark, flat land she rides
    On a pony she named Wildfire
    With a whirlwind by her side
    On a cold Nebraska night

    Oh, they say she died one winter
    When there came a killing frost
    And the pony she named Wildfire
    Busted down its stall
    In a blizzard he was lost

    She ran calling Wildfire [x3,000,000,000]
    …merciful snip…

    We’ll be riding Wildfire [x36,673,435,023]

    On Wildfire we’re gonna ride
    Gonna leave sodbustin’ behind
    Get these hard times right on out of our minds
    Riding Wildfire (brain explodes)”

  44. Another from the same summer. If I ever meet Seals & Croft, I am going to… I just don’t know what I’ll do.

    The chorus from Summer Breeze:

    “Summer breeze
    makes me feel fine
    blowing through the jasmine in my mind
    Summer breeze
    makes me feel fine
    blowing through the jasmine in my m-i-i-i-i-iind”

    repeat until all will is gone.

  45. Continuing the food theme: 10cc’s “Life is a Minestrone”

    Life is a minestrone
    Served up with Parmesan cheese
    Death is a cold lasagna
    Suspended in deep freeze
    Love is a fire of flaming brandy
    Upon a crepe Suzette
    Let’s get this romance cooking honey
    But let us not forget….

    One of the verses also contains the lines:

    I’m hanging round the gardens of Madison
    The seat of learning
    And the flush of success
    Relieves a constipated mind

    Ah, the 70s…..

  46. We can dance if we want to
    we can leave your friends behind
    ’cause your friends don’t dance
    and if they don’t dance
    well they’re
    no friends of mine

  47. “Domo arigato, Mr, Roboto,
    Domo, Domo,
    Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    Domo, Domo,
    Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    (Thank you very much oh Mr. Roboto
    For doing the jobs that nobody wants to)
    Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    (And thank you very much oh Mr. Roboto,
    For helping me escape just when I needed to)
    Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    (Thank you thank you thank you)
    Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    (I wanna thank you)
    Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
    (Please thank you)”

    Damn you, Styx! Damn you to hell!

  48. OK, can anyone beat Dylan in his more obscure moments?

    Try this:

    Einstein disguised as Robin Hood
    With his memories in a trunk
    Went this way an hour ago
    With his friend a jealous monk.
    He looked so immaculately frightful
    As he bummed a cigarette
    And he went off sniffing drainpipes
    And reciting the alphabet…

    (from Desolation Row)

  49. Grammar cringe:
    LA Woman, The Doors:
    If they say I never loved you
    You know they are a liar

    Anything-that-rhymes dept.:
    In-a-gadda-da-vida, Iron Butterfly:

    Oh, won’t you come with me
    And take my hand
    Oh won’t you come with me
    And walk this land

  50. Seals and Crofts:

    Dye the shirt of wisdom, the colors of the west.
    Approach the skirt of isdom, with waves that mount and crest.
    Feed the hay of havoc, to the mouths that starve for such.
    And milk the cows of gladness, with a firm and gentle touch.

  51. Dylan in his religious phase (don’t recall if it was the Born-Again Christian or Jewish Roots period)

    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, in the beginning
    Man gave names to all the animals
    In the beginning, long time ago

    He saw an animal up on a hill
    Chewing up so much grass until she was filled
    He saw milk comin’ out but he didn’t know how
    “Ah, think I’ll call it a cow”

    He saw an animal that liked to snort
    Horns on his head and they weren’t too short
    It looked like there wasn’t nothin’ that he couldn’t pull
    “Ah, think I’ll call it a bull”


    He saw an animal leavin’ a muddy trail
    Real dirty face and a curly tail
    He wasn’t too small and he wasn’t too big
    “Ah, think I’ll call it a pig”

    And it goes on….

  52. I’m afraid I’m going to have to swoop in here with these two lyrical pearls. Both are real.

    Des’ree -Life
    “I don’t want to see a ghost,
    It’s the sight that I fear most
    I’d rather have a piece of toast
    And watch the evening news.”

    Snap- Rythm is a dancer
    “I’m serious as cancer,
    when I say rhythm is a dancer”

  53. There are certainly worse out there, but these lyrics irk me particularly because I do like this band most of the time:

    Coldplay – Lost

    You might be a big fish
    In a little pond
    Doesn’t mean you’ve won
    ‘Cause along may come
    A bigger one


  54. There is an album called “Elvis’s Greatest Sh*t”. Maybe not fair to include here because the album is mainly composed of songs from his movies (and outtakes of pop songs) never really played on pop rock stations. But they were sung by the “King” himself.

    Songs include such classics as “Queenie Wahine’s Papaya”. Here is the track list:

    1. Old Mac Donald Had a Farm, 2. Ito Eats, 3. There’s No Room to Rhumba In a Sports Car, 4. Confidence, 5. Yoga Is As Yoga Does, 6. Song of the Shrimp, 7. U.S. Male, 8. Ford Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, 9. Signs of the Zodiac, 10. The Bullfighter Was a Lady, 11. Wolf Call, 12. Can’t Help Falling In Love, 13. He’s Your Uncle Not Your Dad, 14. Scratch My Back Then I’ll Scratch Yours, 15. The Walls Have Ears, 16. Poison Ivy League, 17. Beach Boy Blues, 18. Dominic the Impotent Bull, 19. Queenie Wahine’s Papaya, 20. Do the Clambake, 21. Datin’, 22. Are You Lonesome Tonight?, 23. Outro.

    1. This was gonna be the night tonight
      I was gonna get to hold you tight
      But i guess we didn’t plan it right
      I never stood a chance, we couldn’t dance

      Cause there’s , no room to rhumba in a sports car
      You can’t move forward or back
      There’s no room to do what the beat tells you to
      Without throwing your spine outta wack

      When a little kiss i want to steal
      I hit my head against the steering wheel
      Now i know the way a pretzel feels
      All i can do is shout…hey let me out!!

      Cause there’s , no room to rhumba in a sports car
      You can’t move forward or back
      There’s no room to do what the beat tells you to
      Without throwing your spine outta wack

      What a way to waste a day with you
      Nothing happens that can tell the truth
      Let’s go out and find a telephone booth
      Yeah that’s a better place, i like more space

      Cause there’s , no room to rhumba in a sports car
      You can’t move forward or back
      There’s no room to do what the beat tells you to
      Without throwing your spine outta wack

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