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Klavan On The Culture

My Pet Peeve: Sweet Music, Stupid Words

May 30th, 2014 - 8:31 am

I don’t have a lot of pet peeves — why would I keep a peeve as a pet? But since this is supposed to be a cultural blog, I’ll tell you a cultural phenomenon that really bugs me: songs with beautiful music that have crappy lyrics. Now remember those criteria…  don’t come back on me and say, “Hey, that song is lovely.” I know it is.  The music is. The music is lovely and catchy and lyrical…  but that’s exactly what makes the crummy lyrics so, so annoying.

Remember this one? Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill:

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Really pretty tune but come on!

“Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much, and I have to close my eyes and hide. I want to hold you till I die, till we both break down and cry. I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides.”

I mean, gag me with a spoon! Dan! Danster! Are you a dude or a chick? “I want to hold you… till we both break down and cry?” Bleagh! Does a huggy-wuggy make you weepy-deepy? “I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides…” I’m sorry, check me on this, ladies. If a guy actually said that to you would you 1) laugh in his face and dump him or 2) well, wait, there is no 2…

[My wife says I'd like the song if the sexes were reversed. You know: holding a tremulous girl until her fear subsides...  kind of sexy. But this is exactly why I make my wife live in the basement. Or would, if I had a basement. If she's going to start expecting me to make sense, our marriage is doomed!]

Anyway, later in the song, there’s this gender-non-specific stinker: “I’m just another writer, still trapped within his truth.” Hey, listen, I have that problem too. Mostly, it’s when a little piece of cloth gets stuck in the zipper. Just pull sharply.

Okay, here’s another. Sarah McLachlan, Angel, often called In The Arms of An Angel.

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I know, I know, beautiful song, greatest song ever…  except it’s about heroin! Listen to it! The angel is freaking heroin! People are always posting it with pictures of dead soldiers and lovers and other admirable stuff. It’s not about anything like that. Heroin. It’s about heroin. Who goes around singing pretty songs about heroin? Beautiful music, but the lyrics suck.

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All Comments   (20)
All Comments   (20)
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Don Henley's End of Innocence is a beautiful song. But my goodness, when he goes off on Ronald Reagan ("this tired old man we've elected king"), I just cringe. It seems Henley feared that Reagan would blow up the world. I wonder if he learned anything from that mistake.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
So many of the songs listed certainly have stupid lyrics but the only reason I would not have suggested them is because Andrew's criteria was that the melody was good while the lyrics were bad. I don't think the melody is all that great for these songs either.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most country music - My brain can't handle the dichotomy of blues lyrics to upbeat music.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Plus ca change, folks. It's just as bad with opera. Ignorance in not only bliss but the wisest course. Just enjoy the sound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PYt2HlBuyI

And this is much better than most, lyricswise.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another all time great from the Beatles "A love like ours/ could never die/ as long as i/ have you near me...
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
To paraphrase Penn Jillette: Why are there so many songs about rainbows? -Name 4
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
I concur with "The Greatest Love of All", and while we're dishing on the departed diva I will mention "Saving All My Love For You", a song sung from the perspective of "the other woman" awaiting her adulterous lover's arrival.

Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately?", a song that could be a "See also" reference accompanying the dictionary definition of "selfish".

Bob Marley's (and later Eric Clapton) "I Shot The Sheriff". Well, at least he didn't shoot the deputy. I still remember Paul Harvey lamenting that the song had reached number one on the Billboard pop chart.

15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The Way it Is", by Bruce Hornsby and The Range.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Musically, I really like many songs by the band Seether, but the lyrics are sophomoric drivel. Case in point - http://youtu.be/BDKM181eTsM

Tip of the day: If you have to tell her you are so much more than meets the eye...um... no, you probably aren't.

Another example - the music totally rocks, but the lyrics are utterly repulsive, and worthy of an aspiring sex offender: http://youtu.be/o9JXMnXnAxc
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
What about Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back To Me Now"? Gorgeous song, gives me goosebumps, etc... but what about this line:

There were nights of endless pleasure
It was more than all your laws allow

So, apart from being gross and telling me way more than I want to know about how Celine Dion spends her nights, what on earth was she doing that was more than all your laws allow? Our laws are pretty live-and-let-live in this department, what was it that she was doing??
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Probably a reference to the age difference between her and her geriatric, cradle-robbing husband... ;-)
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
LOL that's absolutely right, you figured it out!
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
I just realized - this song much also be about heroin! Endless pleasure, more than all your laws allow ... am I right?
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
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