Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

by
Andrew Klavan

Bio

May 30, 2014 - 12:30 pm
Page 1 of 3  Next ->   View as Single Page

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:

YouTube Preview Image

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.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"Good pop music with meaningful, non-fatuous lyrics" is an extremely small intersection of two sets that are small to begin with. A target-rich environment, let us say.

Try some Al Stewart.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
P&F nailed it:

Bow chica bow wow.
Mow mow mow.
Chica chica choo wah.
Gichy Gichy goo.

Catchy tune and meaningless lyrics.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Eh, I think you're being too picky. Those are all good songs and the lyrics aren't bad. Cheesy yea, but so what?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
"what would a rainbow be hiding?"

Color-blindness.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is typical of popular music in general. But to be fair it's true for most Operas as well... at least in Opera the words are *known* to be merely an excuse for musical virtuousity, while in pop music the words are supposed to be the "deep message" of the "social activist" singer...
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The best pop music makes no pretense of deeper meaning or even meaning at all. Whether it's Be-bop-a-lula, Tutti Frutti, MMM Bop, or Bob Dylan the important thing was to have something cool to go with the music not meaningful. Meaning is a bonus.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Years ago I remember my Mom hearing Don't Fear The Reaper by the Moody Blues and saying how neat she thought the song was. I asked her "you know what it's about, right?" and I got a blank look back. She was shocked when I told her. Then I laid "Dust In The Wind" by Kansas on her. Apparently she hadn't listened to closely to that one either.
- Roket out
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've been noodling a horror story based on "Don't Fear the Reaper." Most of BOC's stuff is in the same vein...almost literally.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
We used to call it the "White Lady," years before that song. Kinda reminds you of an angel. Anyway, the "angel" isn't just dope, it's an angel, as in dead.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Good pop music with meaningful, non-fatuous lyrics" is an extremely small intersection of two sets that are small to begin with. A target-rich environment, let us say.

Try some Al Stewart.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Has anyone ever made sense out of a Steely Dan lyric? Still though, I love their music.

"Is there gas in the car? yes there's gas in the car!"
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
If memory serves, "Kid Charlemagne" is sort of biographical, in that it was modeled after a particular dope dealer, in San Francisco, I think, but I could be wrong about that. "Is there gas in the car?" happens where the dope maker/dealer knows he has to split town in a hurry.

"On the hill their stuff was laced with kerosene,
But yours was kitchen-clean
It was the best in town."

Steely Dan tunes are often written about human vices. "Kid Charlemagne" is about drugs. "Babylon Sister" is about gambling. Sex with young girls is "Hey Nineteen".
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Beatles practically specialized in writing/singing nice tunes with stupid lyrics. Paul admitted he often chose the lyrics of a song based simply on how the words sound rather than what they mean. "Hello Goodbye" should serve as a placeholder for all such Beatles tunes.

As an antidote for this, listen to a good singer perform "Too Marvelous for Words" (Whiting/Mercer). Johnny Mercer may be the best lyricist of all time. The kids today couldn't even appreciate lyrics like this, let alone write them.

Here's a YouTube link to Michael Feinstein doing the honors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcIK4y0oYS0
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Prime example "Don's Pass Me By" great melody. Sample lyric "You were in a car crash and lost all your hair, Don't pass me by, don't make me cry" man he's all heart there huh?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem with this topic is that there are a lot of candidates for this list.
Some of the songs released in the US in foreign languages are quite lovely to listen to, but I wouldn't know if the singer was just cussing us out roundly. I guess it'd be hard to get away with that with "Eres Tu?" (Spanish) or "Neun und neunzig Luftballoonen" (German). But what is our friend saying in the song "Sukiyaki"? And if Peaches and Herb translated it correctly, it's quite sappy.
One contestant on "America's Got Talent" sang "Unchained" in Italian. Made me wonder if it was originally an operatic piece. Nope, but he sure made it sound like one.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here it is with the lyrics translated: http://youtu.be/C35DrtPlUbc
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Different lyrics than Taste of Honey had (I blamed the wrong duo) but yep, just as sappy.
I said we should name our daughter "Amber" and my sweetheart called me a sap.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
According to Wikipedia, "The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States in 1963".

I'm no cultural historian or any other kind of academician, but in my gut, I suspect that song played an substantive role helping the American public get over a fair amount of residual anti-Japanese hostility. 1963 was only 18 years after Hiroshima.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
View All