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Bad Lyrics Hall of Fame

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Bubbler, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    Another in a series of threads that have almost certainly been done before ... perhaps even started by me. I am old and doddering and don't remember such things and the Byzantine ways of the SJ search function confuse me, not unlike Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

    I was on a road trip yesterday and Respect Yourself by the Staple Singers came up in my rotation.

    Great song. Love the vibe. Love a 60-year-old Pops Staples singing and playing guitar on what was a hit song.

    But lyrics weren't the Staples' strong point.

    During the second half of the song, when Mavis Staples is singing, there's a lyric that just stops the song in its tracks.

    "Keep talking 'bout the President ... won't stop air pollution.
    Put your hand on your mouth when you cough, that'll help the solution."

    What? That won't do jack shit for air pollution.

    I was a mere babe in 1971 when this was released so maybe there's a subtle jibe at someone in there I'm missing.

    Maybe they mean "air pollution" as dissent and "put your hand on your mouth when you cough" means watch what you say? Maybe the Staples were pro-Nixon? Someone help me out here.

    Or maybe it's just a bad lyric. In this case, it strikes me that they ran out of ideas for the song and threw that line in there to fill out the verse.

    Scads of artists are capable of bad lyrics, but what truly makes the Bad Lyrics Hall of Fame are lyrics that are terrible, yet, they appear in enjoyable songs, or, were written by otherwise respected artists.

    Steve Miller is the absolute master of the form. Listen to the lyrics of any Steve Miller song that isn't a cover (many of his popular songs are) and you'll find some doozies.

    My favorite has always been Take The Money And Run.

    "Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas ... (clap-clap-clap) ..."

    OK. The Sugarland Express/Getaway-esque narrative is set.

    "You know he knows just exactly what the facts is ..."

    Well that's a bit of awkward diction, but it fits the groove, so we'll let that pass.

    "He ain't gonna let those two escape justice ..."

    Texas Ranger-type hellbent on protecting the establishment from a couple of free-wheeling Bonnie and Clyde types. Got it.

    "He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes."

    OH SHIT!

    [​IMG]

    Really? That might be the worst burn in the history of burns. Especially when it ends the verse. It just kind of hangs there like a turd. Like an awkward comment made at a dinner party. Like the Staples Singers' song, it has the tacked on feel to complete a verse.

    I suppose I know where he was going. Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue are the sympathetic anti-heroes of the song. They're free from society's rules. Billy Mac is society's enforcer and he tries to stifle our freedom ... with our money!

    Maybe Steve Miller is in the Tea Party?

    There's so many more than just these two. Lenny Kravitz is whole minefield unto himself in this case.

    I'd be curious to know yours.

    Remember, don't be quoting a bunch of Fergie stupidity. It has to be from a song that you at least enjoy and that is trying to have some artistic merit from a writing standpoint, or, it has to be from an artist that's respected as a musician or songwriter.
     
  2. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty New Member

    oh, this has so, so much potential. i'm just glad chef didn't start this thread.
     
  3. HC

    HC Well-Known Member

    Alan Jackson's "Where were you when the world stopped turning" is not a great song but it tries. And everytime he gets to the bridge, one line smacks me in the face:
    I'm just a singer of simple songs
    I'm not a real political man
    I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell
    You the difference in Iraq and Iran


    I mean, dayyum that's bad. You couldn't say "difference 'tween"?? Or anything else?
     
  4. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    Bruce Springsteen using speedball instead of fastball in Glory Days is a pretty famous one.
     
  5. Let's face it, this ain't Shakespeare

    "She says she loves you
    And you know that can't be bad
    Yes, she loves you
    And you know you should be glad"
     
  6. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    Another fertile field for bad lyrics come from artists who were past their original prime and were trying to make a commercial comeback, even at risk of totally selling out.

    Usually, that meant farming out lyrics to "professionals" like Russ Ballard or Diane Warren, probably at the insistence of their record companies. This was so even if the artist was known for writing clever/interesting lyrics in their original heyday.

    This was especially prevalent in the late 1980s. Heart, Yes, Robert Palmer, Cheap Trick and others all fall into this category.

    Yes had a particularly bad one. Love Will Find A Way is not a great song, but it was a song that got a lot of airplay. It has terrible lyrics in it throughout that are emblematic of what I'm talking about, but there's one that sticks out.

    "Here is my heart ... waiting for you.
    "Here is my soul ...
    "I eat at Chez Nous ..."

    Uh, OK. Nice to have the restaurant tip in the middle of the song.

    OH WAIT! I get it. You eat your heart out so much you do it at a fancy restaurant! Metaphor!

    Too bad that song wasn't on the OU812 album.
     
  7. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty New Member

    Beck. Loser. The entire damn song. Here are the first several lines, but the whole damn thing makes no sense.

    "In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey
    Butane in my veins so I'm out to cut the junkie
    With the plastic eyeballs, spray paint the vegetables
    Dog food stalls with the beefcake pantyhose
    Kill the headlights and put it in neutral
    Stock car flamin' with a loser and the cruise control
    Baby's in Reno with the vitamin D
    Got a couple of couches sleep on the love seat
    Someone keeps sayin I'm insane to complain
    About a shotgun wedding and a stain on my shirt
    Don't believe everything that you breathe
    You get a parking violation and a maggot on your sleeve
    So shave your face with some mace in the dark
    Savin' all your food stamps and burnin' down the trailer park"
     
  8. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
    Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say
    Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
    Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay
    He got the action, he got the motion
    Oh Yeah the boy can play
    Dedication devotion
    Turning all the night time into the day

    He do the song about the sweet lovin' woman
    He do the song about the knife
    He do the walk, he do the walk of life, yeah he do the walk of life

    Here comes Johnny and he'll tell you the story
    Hand me down my walkin' shoes
    Here comes Johnny with the power and the glory
    Backbeat the talkin' blues
    He got the action, he got the motion
    Oh Yeah the boy can play
    Dedication devotion
    Turning all the night time into the day

    He do the song about the sweet lovin' woman
    He do the song about the knife
    He do the walk, he do the walk of life, yeah he do the walk of life

    Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
    Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say
    Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
    Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay
    He got the action, he got the motion
    Oh Yeah the boy can play
    Dedication devotion
    Turning all the night time into the day

    And after all the violence and double talk
    There's just a song in all the trouble and the strife
    You do the walk, you do the walk of life, yeah he do the walk of life
     
  9. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    Nah. It isn't supposed to make sense.
     
  10. Matt1735

    Matt1735 Well-Known Member

    I submit the ultimate bad song lyrics:

    I got my mind set on you I got my mind set on you
    I got my mind set on you I got my mind set on you

    But it's gonna take money a whole lotta spending money
    It's gonna take plenty of money to do it right child
    It's gonna take time a whole lotta precious time
    It's gonna take patience and time mmm to do it to do it
    To do it to do it to do it to do it right child

    I got my mind set on you I got my mind set on you
    I got my mind set on you I got my mind set on you

    And this time I know it's real the feeling that I feel
    I know if I put my mind to it I know that I really can do it
    I got my mind set on you (set on you)
    I got my mind set on you (set on you)

    But it's gonna take money a whole lotta spending money
    It's gonna take plenty of money to do it right child
    It's gonna take time a whole lotta precious time
    It's gonna take patience and time mmm to do it to do it
    To do it to do it to do it to do it right

    I got my mind set on you I got my mind set on you
    I got my mind set on you I got my mind set on you

    And this time I know it's real the feelings that I feel
    I know if I put my mind to it I know that I really can do it
    But it's gonna take money a whole lotta spending money
    It's gonna take plenty of money to do it right child
    It's gonna take time a whole lotta precious time
    It's gonna take patience and time mmm to do it to do it
    To do it to do it to do it to do it right

    Set on you set on you set on you set on you
    Set on you set on you set on you set on you
    Set on you set on you set on you set on you
     
  11. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    I don't know if they're good or bad lyrics, but David Crosby singing (with the Byrds) about two chicks at the same time in Triad makes me want to wash my ears with pure alcohol, and also make me realize that Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With" is not the most dippy, sexually selfish song ever done by a member of CSNY.

    You want to know how it will be
    Me and her or you and me
    You both sit there with your long hair flowing
    Your eyes are alive your minds are still growing
    Saying to me "What can we do now that we both love you?"
    I love both you too
    And I don't really see why can't we go on as three
    You are afraid, you're probably embarrassed too
    No one has ever in your sweet short life
    Said such a thing to you
    Your mother's ghost stands at you shoulder
    Got a face like ice just a little colder
    Saying to you "You cannot do that it breaks all the rules
    You learned in schools"
    I still don't really see why can't we go on as, three
    We love each other it's plain to see
    There's just one answer that comes right away to me, yeah, yeah
    Sister-lovers, some of you must know about water-brothers
    And in time, maybe others
    So you see what we can do is to try something new
    That is if you're crazy I am too, yeah
    I still don't really see why can't we go on as, three
     
  12. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    I'm never gonna dance again.
    My guilty feet have got no rhythm.


    I hope to never know what George Michael was doing with his feet to make them so guilty.
     
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