Archive | Sunday Song Lyric

Sunday Song Lyric

If I hear one more song with Auto-Tune I think I’ll foreswear the FM dial for good.  Don’t these guys know it makes them sound like Cher?  I am not alone in my disdain for the over-use of pitch-correction technology.  Jay-Z even wrote an award-winning song about it, “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune).”  The lead single off his latest album, The Blueprint III, won a Grammy. Here’s how it begins:

Only rapper to rewrite history without a pen,
No ID on the track let the story begin, begin, begin

This is anti-autotune, death of the ringtone
This ain’t for iTunes, this ain’t for sing alongs
This is Sinatra at the opera, bring a blonde
Preferably with a fat ass who can sing a song, wrong
This ain’t politically correct, this might offend my political connects
My raps don’t have melodies, this should make jackers wanna go and commit felonies,
Get your chain tooken, I may do it myself – I’m so Brooklyn.
I know we facing a recession, but the music y’all making going make it the great depression
All y’all lack aggression put your skirt back down, grow a set man
Yeah this just violent, this is the death of autotune, moment of silence

Here are the full lyrics, the video, and a live performance with John Mayer. [...]

Continue Reading 19

Sunday Song Lyric

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, so I thought I’d blog “Memorial Day” by James McMurtry off of his critically acclaimed album Childish Things.  It doesn’t focus so much on the reason for the holiday as the dysfunctional dynamics of holiday family get-togethers.  Here’s the chorus:

It’s Memorial Day in America
Everybody’s on the road
Let’s remember our fallen heroes
Y’all be sure and drive slow

Here are the full lyrics and the song. And here’s a list of VC readers’ prior Memorial Day Sunday Song Lyric suggestions. [...]

Continue Reading 8

Sunday Song Lyric

Heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio died last week at the age of 67.  Dio was a monster of rock, having fronted Rainbow, post-Ozzy Black Sabbath, and Dio, among others.  Wikipedia also credits him with popularizing the “devil’s horns” hand gesture.  He never reached the top of the charts, but his work (and voice) should be familiar to anyone who ever went through a metal phase — and how many others can claim tribute songs by Tenacious D.

VH1 deemed Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark” as one of the top 40 metal songs of all time, but it was never one of his favorites.  For whatever reason, I always preferred “The Last in Line.” though never really promoted as a single, it was a staple on album-oriented rock stations in the 1980s.  The lyrics aren’t poetry — this is metal after all — but it’s a memorable song, and pure Dio.  It begins:

We’re a ship without a storm
The cold without the warm
Light inside the darkness that it needs, yeah

We’re a laugh without a tear
The hope without the fear
We are coming – home

Here are the full lyrics, the music video, and a live performance from 2002. [...]

Continue Reading 19

Sunday Song Lyric

Paul Weller has a new album outNME likes it.  I’ll need to give it a listen at some point (perhaps when I’m done grading exams).  He’s put out some good stuff solo and with The Style Council, but my heart stays with his early work with The Jam, one of my favorite bands.  He penned lots of  tracks to choose from for an SSL.  For some reason, this morning I’m stuck on “Going Underground” — their first number one single in the UK.  Here’s how it begins:

Some people might say my life is in a rut,
But I’m quite happy with what I got
People might say that I should strive for more,
But I’m so happy I can’t see the point.
Somethings happening here today
A show of strength with your boy’s brigade and,
I’m so happy and you’re so kind
You want more money – of course I don’t mind
To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes

And the public gets what the public wants
But I want nothing this society’s got –
I’m going underground
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground,
Well let the boys all sing and the boys all shout for tomorrow

Here are the full lyrics, a video, and a live performance. [...]

Continue Reading 2

Sunday Song Lyric

There are lots of songs about Mom — readers contributed a bunch here.  For today’s lyric, I thought about “There’s Always a Mother Waiting at Home.” Here’s the chorus:

If sickness overtakes you
Or old companions shake you
As through this world you wander all alone
When friends you haven’t any
In your pocket not a penny
There’s a mother always awaiting you at home

The version I’m familiar with is by Johnny Cash from Personal File, but it’s a much older song by James Thornton dating from the turn of the century.

Happy Mother’s Day! [...]

Continue Reading 6

Sunday Song Lyric

Leonard Cohen has to be among the greatest living lyricists.  His music and lyrics have inspired countless musicians and songwriters (and more than one VC post).  He also seems a particularly appropriate source of Sunday Song Lyrics as so many of songs, like this week’s selection — “Tower of Song” — are about music.

“Tower of Song” was the last track on 1988’s I’m Your Man (not to be confused with the 2006 tribute film).  It’s been covered by folks as varied as Peter Gabriel, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Marianne Faithful, and provided the title for a 1995 tribute album.  Here’s how the song begins:

Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day
Oh in the Tower of SongI said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song

Here are the full lyrics, a live performance, and a version with U2.  Here’s a tribute site with lots of good stuff. [...]

Continue Reading 15

Sunday Song Lyric

Michael Weintraub and Tyler Cohen wonder what are the best songs about technology.  Weintrabu focuses on songs “whose lyrics deal explicitly with technological innovations and their cultural effects,” and suggests Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble.”  It’s a good choice.  Paul Simon is a great songwriter, and “Boy in Bubble” was a popular song.  Here’s how it begins:

It was a slow day
And the sun was beating
On the soldiers by the side of the road
There was a bright light
A shattering of shop windows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby, don’t cry

Here are the full lyrics, the video, and a live performance.

“Boy in the Bubble” is one good song about technology, but is it the best?  What’s your favorite? And why? [...]

Continue Reading 43

Sunday Song Lyric

Punk pioneer Malcolm McLaren died this week. McLaren managed both the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols. While neither band lasted too long in its initial incarnation, both were quite influential.  Under McLaren’s leadership, the Sex Pistols courted controversy and cemented their place in history.  Their 1977 single, “God Save the Queen,” was almost never released.  Workers at the pressing plant stopped work because they were offended by the record cover (which, interestingly enough, would later be recognized as one of the best covers of all time) and the song was banned by the BBC.  Perhaps due to the contorversy, the song still hit number 2 on the UK charts.  Many thought the lyrics scandalous at the time — but time’s change.  Here’s a taste:

God save the queen
The fascist regime
It made you a moron
Potential H bomb
God save the queen
She ain’t no human being
There is no future
In England’s dreaming
Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future
No future
No future for you

Here are the full lyrics, the song, a video, and a live performance from 2007. [...]

Continue Reading 52

Sunday Song Lyric

Is the Easter Bunny a white rabbit?  I’ve always assumed so. The Easter Bunny may be a white rabbit but he or she still does not have much to do with Grace Slick’s “White Rabbit,” the classic song she immortalized with Jefferson Airplane in 1967.  The rabbit of which Slick sang was the nervously late character from Alice in Wonderland (aka Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) — “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” — not a purveyor of jelly beans and creme-filled eggs.  Interestingly enough, the song was originally performed by Slick’s earlier band, The Great Society.  After Slick joined Jefferson Airplane, they included the song on their album Surrealistic Pillow.  And surreal the lyrics are.  Here’s the final verse:

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said;
“Feed Your Head”

Here are the full lyrics, a performance from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and another from Woodstock. [...]

Continue Reading 10

Sunday Song Lyric

What’s the best political song of all time?  The folks at the New Statesmen believe it’s “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.  Here are the later lyrics, which are probably less well known than the opening.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

The full lyrics are here.  The song can be heard here.

Is the New Statesmen list a good one? Or is it too weighted toward older songs and the musical preferences of aging boomers?  Luke Lewis at NME weighs in:

Now it’s traditional at this point to belly-ache about the fact there’s no hip-hop, only three female artists in the list blah-di-blah. But, you know, it’s political magazine, not a music mag, so it’s not like they were gonna acknowledge riot grrrl.

What is telling though, is the absence of any songs from the past twenty years (apart from ‘Killing In The Name’), and it’s always a fault of these lists that they completely ignore metal – I’d argue Metallica’s ‘One’ and System Of A Down’s ‘BYOB’ are as incendiary protest anthems as you’ll find anywhere.

Continue Reading 62

Sunday Song Lyric

Alex Chilton died this week at 59.  His music did not have much commercial success beyond a few songs recorded with the Box Tops as a teen, (most notably “The Letter”).  But his influence was substantial.  When I was in college, most of the “cool” bands listed Alex Chilton and Big Star as important influences.  The Replacements even named a song after him.  Decades later his influence would continue.  One of Big Star’s songs became the theme for “That ’70s Show,” and the band was reconstituted in the 1990s with a two of the Posies. Big Star was supposed to play last night at SXSW in Austin.  They performed a Chilton tribute instead.

Alex Chilton’s death has prompted numerous remembrances, including remarks by Rep. Steve Cohen on the floor of the House and an NYT op-ed by Paul Westerberg. From the latter: “The great Alex Chilton is gone — folk troubadour, blues shouter, master singer, songwriter and guitarist. Someone should write a tune about him. Then again, nah, that would be impossible. Or just plain stupid.”  Stupid or not, Westerberg and the Replacements recorded a song about Chilton in 1987, and it’s as fitting a tribute as any.  Here’s a taste:

Cerebral rape and pillage in a village of his choice.
Invisible man who can sing in a visible voice.
Feeling like a hundred bucks, exchanging good lucks face to face.
Checkin’ his stash by the trash at St. Mark’s place.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round
They sing “I’m in love. What’s that song?
I’m in love with that song.”

Here’s the song, and the video. [...]

Continue Reading 8

Sunday Song Lyric

Do songwriters understand behavioral economics better than law professors?  They might.  Liam Delaney and Alex Tabarrok have been suggesting songs for “the behavioral economics songs hall of fame.”  Delaney nominates “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” by the Flaming Lips.  Tabarrok suggests Chris Smither‘s “Hey, Hey, Hey” for these lyrics:

Pretty soon you’re gonna ask me,
How come the life you lead,
Doesn’t make you very happy,
Or satisfy your needs,
You talk about your needs as though
You know just what they are,
When in fact to really know them,
Is like traveling to a star,
It takes so long you die along the way,
So I say hey, hey, hey.

These two are not alone. (Just see the comment thread on Tabarrok’s post.)  Perhaps some songwriters understand aspects of human behavior better than us academics.  [Perhaps?!?Is there any question? -ed.] [...]

Continue Reading 4

Sunday Song Lyric

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards airs tonight.  Five songs were nominated for Best Original Song, but none of the artists will perform on the program — perhaps because this year’s nominees are a bit underwhelming.  Which song will win?  Although Randy Newman penned two of the five songs, my guess is “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham from Crazy Heart.  I have not seen the film, but I think this is the strongest of the five nominated songs.  Here’s a taste:

Your body aches…
Playing your guitar and sweating out the hate
The days and the nights all feel the same

Whiskey has been a thorn in your side
and it doesn’t forget
the highway that calls for your heart inside

And this ain’t no place for the weary kind
And this ain’t no place to lose your mind
And this ain’t no place to fall behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try

Here are the full lyrics, the song, a live performance by Bingham, and another by Jeff Bridges.

UPDATE: And a winner it is. [...]

Continue Reading 5

Sunday Song Lyric

Carly Simon is releasing a new version of her 1972 hit, “You’re So Vain,” renewing speculation over who the song is about.  For years, many assumed the song was about Warren Beatty — indeed, that’s what Beatty himself said.   Other speculation is summarized on the song’s Wiki page. The new version of the song adds a new twist, however, as it contains a back-played whisper of the name “David,” leading some to argue the song must be about David Geffen, or perhaps David Bowie.  Perhaps Simon will tell one day.  In the meantime, here’s how the song opens:

You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and….

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you?

Here are the full lyrics and other tidbits about the song from  And here are the 1972 version of the song and a live version. [...]

Continue Reading 39

Sunday Song Lyric

There have been quite a few songs on “torture” — but most are about the loves lost or relationships gone wrong, something quite different from the subject of the infamous OLC memos.  Consider the “Torture” lyrics by The Psychedelic Furs (song), The Replacements (s0ng), Berlin (song), and (who can forget) the Jacksons (video).  Leave it to the The Cure to pen a darker song, closer to the subject at hand.  Their “Torture,” from 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, begins:

I’m in the room without a light
The room without a view
I’m here for one more treacherous night
Another night with you
It tortures me to move my hands
To try to move at all
And pulled
My skin so tight it screams
And screams and screams
And pulls some more

Here are the full lyrics, the song, and a mediocre live video. [...]

Continue Reading 5