All my life I’ve been fascinated by lyrics. And you know I wrote 18 lyrics for my new musical, The Best Medicine, right? It’s a wonderful comedy with incredible music by Jerry Williams, and we’re hoping to launch it soon.
I like clever lyrics that surprise you, that show some effort by the songwriter to get it right. I’m always disappointed when someone lands a hit song with ridiculously lazy lyrics. And we’ve all heard them. You can search “worst lyrics” on your computer and find dozens of examples. Here are few eye-rollers:
Madonna: I don't like cities, but I like New York. Other places make me feel like a dork.
Pink Floyd: I know a mouse and he hasn’t got a house.
Neal Diamond: I am, I said to no one there, and no one heard at all, not even the chair.
The Killers: I'm down on my knees, searching for the answer… Are we human or are we dancer?
Feeder: Get a house in Devon, drink cider from a lemon.
Bob Dylan: Give me some milk - or else go home.
On the other hand, a lot of lyrics get mangled by the listeners. Is this the fault of poor enunciation on the part of the singers, bad reception on your car radio, or our tendency to hear what we want to hear?
Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” was heard as “Tony Danza” by many.
Maybe we’re just in the mood for humor. Lots of folks heard “The sheep don’t like it, rockin’ the cat box” when The Clash actually sang, “Shareef don’t like it, rock the Casbah.”
And when Toto sang, “I bless the rains down in Africa,” some heard it as, “I left my brains down in Africa.”
TLC’s “Don’t go chasing waterfalls” became “Don’t go, Jason Waterfalls” to many, and Macy Gray’s “My world crumbles when you are not near” was heard as “I blow bubbles when you’re not here.”
Years ago Jimi Hendrix sang, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky,” and people would sing along with, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.” Nirvana’s “Here we are now, entertain us” became “Here we are now, in containers.”
Apparently we will believe the craziest lyrics are actually real, because people thought Eddie Money’s “I’ve got two tickets to paradise” was “I’ve got two chickens to paralyze,”
and the Beatle’s “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes” was heard as “The girl with colitis goes by.”
Imagine people singing along with their car radios when Bob Dylan sang, “The answer my friends is blowing in the wind,” except the listeners were singing, “The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind.”
But my favorite was discovered by one of our sons when he was about eight years old. Someone was singing Credence Clearwater Revival’s “There’s a bad moon on the rise,” and he said, “Hey! I always thought that said, ‘There a bathroom on the right.’”
And, actually, that’s probably better information to have.
Have you seen my newly revised website? Check it out, and take a minute to watch the music video at the top of the home page.