Scratching my own funny bone for shits and giggles. Lampooning books, music and being a single woman over 40. Recording observations with an almost Seinfeldian obsession for the minutiae of life. Things can get sweary around here. You understand.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Many moons ago I taught high school music. This was during the 90s and well and truly before the ‘Idol’ phenomenon had hit Australia. I can only imagine how the poor old high school teacher manages today with all these wanna-be divas in the modern classroom. You see, young ladies of a certain vintage and temperament start to develop what I like to call the Celine Dion Syndrome: if I belt it out loud enough and high enough for long enough then people might take me seriously schlep. The time of year I dreaded most was fourth term year ten. The syllabus at the time stated I must teach a vocal unit of sorts and I knew I was in for a hell of a time if the latest and greatest diva songs weren’t tackled, despite the certain injuries to mind and body. The girls could choose their final exam piece and it would inevitably be ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion or ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney-only-dogs-and-special-equipment-can-hear-me Houston. Sometimes they’d look to musicals and be inspired by none other than ‘Memory’ from Cats or ‘I Know Him So Well’ from Chess, but I was constantly amazed at how often Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ would make an appearance. These kids were teenagers in the 90s. That song came out in 1979 and it’s still hanging around like a bad smell! Maybe it was on high rotation in the hospital the day they were born? Who knows? The only thing of which I am certain is that the entire time I was accompanying the little darlings on the piano; I would find myself distracted by the ridiculousness of the rhymes. I’d then have to reassure little Kristy or Kirsty (or whatever her bloody name was) that it wasn’t her voice or performance that was making me roll my eyes and shake my head. Honestly! I mean, can you really hear what you’re saying? Some crap about drowning reeds, aching needs and souls that bleed? You sure the songwriters didn’t pinch your Mum’s diary Kirsty...I mean Kristy? :-D

My heart fills with dread as my right hand moves to C and G in the upper register of the piano: ping – ping – ping – ping – ping – ping – ping. Now might be a good time to turn and run: nauseating piano ballad locked and loaded. Ray Charles did not triumph over handicaps and racist indignities just to have his instrument of choice used as a glockenspiel. Then finally, after a pause so pregnant it’s having triplets, Kristy warbles in with something about love being ‘a river that drowns the tender reed’. I’ve heard many sentiments about love in my time: love hurts, love steals, love is a battlefield, love is like oxygen, but a river that destroys plant life? Yeah right. We only need the ‘reed’ because it rhymes with ‘seed’ Bloody tragic overwrought metaphors. ‘Love is a razor’ (so you ‘bleed’) and ‘love is a hunger’ (that you ‘need’) until the final refrain where love is ‘a flower and you its only seed’. See how much trouble it was to get there? Later on we hear about the ‘heart that never learnt to dance’ because damn it we have to rhyme with the ‘dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance’ Phew. I’m exhausted. Have you heard anything more ridiculous? Well…have you?


Ola said...

Either the best or worst rhyme of all time, depending on your point of view, is in Free's "All Right Now":

Now don't you wait
or hesitate
Let's move before they raise the parking rate

If that's not ridiculous enough, ELP's "Still... You Turn Me On", a lovely ballad in its own right, offers this nugget:

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

Natalia the Russian Spy said...

Welcome Ola! I'm much obliged to you for the visit. That ladder line gave me a good giggle :-D

Dr Yobbo said...

Anything more ridiculous is usually a result of actually trying to be so. To wit, Mudbourne band the Casanovas (effing good live act, as it happens) from the early part of the Noughties with 'Nasty' -

I wouldn't cheat on you baby
Not even if I could
I'm into monogamy, baby
Although it sounds like wood

See also most of Spinal Tap's back catalogue, AC/DC's 'Big Balls' etc.

Barnesm said...

Well I recall reading an article on Cracked which tackled songs whose lyrics you really don’t want to think about.

REO Speedwagon’s - keep on loving you

"You should've known by the tone of my voice, maybe
But you didn't listen
You played dead, but you never bled,
Instead you lay still in the grass, all coiled up and hissing"
The chorus, with its promise to "," made this song a staple of those "As Seen on TV" love song compilation CDs. This verse however reads like bad poetry by a rageaholic husband from a Lifetime Channel movie. First he gets mad at her for not reading the tone of his voice correctly. Then the woman in question plays dead, presumably so he'll stop hitting her. But, as he points out, she wasn't bleeding. So, you know, he did her a favour. Then he calls her a snake, making this one of the most hate-fuelled lyrical barrages this side of "Bulls on Parade."

Baby its cold outside by Dean martin
Offending Lyrics:
Her: but maybe just a half a drink more
Him: (put some records on while I pour)
Her: the neighbors might faint
Him: (baby it's bad out there)
Her: say what's in this drink
Him: (no cabs to be had out there)
What It's Saying:
No Christmas in a department store is complete without having to listen to Dean Martin croon this tune about four times an hour. It features the kind of saucy banter your parents think is awesome and probably made your mom hot after a few egg nogs back in the day. Sick.
Curiously, however, in Dean's extended efforts to keep his lady friend from leaving him for the night, they slip in the somewhat off putting line in which it's implied that Dean has laced her drink with roofies. Because really, if the weather won't keep her in the house, date rape drugs are the next best step.

Young Girl
Offending Lyrics:
Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl,
You're much too young, girl
What It's Saying:
This song is almost too obvious a choice--clearly it's about a guy who has a thing for a girl who's too young. Underage young? The song came out in 1968, so we're guessing somewhere around 14. Hey, at least he's bothered to give her good advice. That shit's creepy. "Better run, girl."

And I really like Sarah Mclachlan and one of her songs Possession I never realised
Offending Lyrics:
And I would be the one
To hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
And after I'd wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes dear
What It's Saying:
This seems innocuous at first, maybe describing a little rough play going on up in Canada for Sarah but nothing crazier than when grandpa and grandpa break into the schnapps on their anniversary, right? Except that this song was inspired by McLachlan's brush with a stalker who sent numerous, crazy-as-a-shithouse-rat letters to her. The stalker actually sued Sarah McLachlan after the song was released for plagiarism, alleging she'd used the content of his letters in the song, but the case never made it to trial because he killed himself, potentially because he realized he was obsessed with Sarah McLachlan for some fucking reason.

In any event, it's safe to assume that when he wrote about holding her down and kissing her so hard it takes her breath away, he meant it in the horrifying literal sense and probably intended on stuffing her with old socks and keeping her on the sofa for the next few years as well.

Sorry it so long, you can see Cracked has covered the topic thoroughly.

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