Klavan On The Culture

My Pet Peeve: Sweet Music, Stupid Words

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:

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.

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.

Here’s an oldie: The Rainbow Connection. Another pretty tune. And by one of my favorite singers too – Kermit the Frog:

“Rainbows have nothing to hide?” Does that even mean anything? Seriously, isn’t that one of those trick sentences where the syntax works but the actual words are completely meaningless? Like “The house stutters on the global interface.”  I mean, what would a rainbow be hiding? Addiction? A relationship with another rainbow of the same sex? Not that there’d be anything wrong with that. After all… he’s a freaking rainbow!!!

Then there’s this: “Who said that every wish would be heard and answered when wished on the morning star? Somebody thought of that and someone believed it. Look what it’s done so far.”

Hanh? Makes me feel like I’ve been buttonholed by a maudlin drunk in a rundown bar at three in the morning. “Hey, buddy, lemme ashk you a question… Who… who shed that every wish would be heard and anshered….  wait a minute…  what wash I talking about?” Maybe you’ve had enough, Kermit. Time to go home.

All right, I’m glad I’ve gotten that off my chest! If you have any more examples of this deadly phenomenon, let me know. If I’m going to keep a pet peeve, it might as well be a big one.

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