Worst Lyrics to a Good Song

Bad lyrics and bad songs go together, as do good lyrics and good songs. Most songs have a good line or two, or a bad line or two, and the rest of the words are neither here nor there. I don’t mind. I like my mindlessness intentional. If you are attempting profundity you have to be profound. Don’t tell me that “the future’s open wide.” I had guessed.

Thinking about it, good songs with bad lyrics are pretty rare. Here is one. Great tune, great sound in its way, killer drum break, even the singing is good. But the words are one embarrassment after another, and enunciated proudly so you can’t avoid them. Right from the title: I’ll melt with you? Gosh. Easy, kid. Then into “there’s nothing you and I won’t do.” Really, nothing? I tell you flat out, pal, there are going to be problems.

And I especially like “making love with you was never second-best.” Just so she (and we) know he’s got a scorecard.

They never followed it up. I saw them open for Roxy Music in 1982 and they were terrible, but the words were unintelligible. The food was bad but at least the portions were small.

Any others come to mind?



Song of the Week – Bigelow 6-2000, Brenda Lee; Beachwood 4-5789, The Marvelettes; 6060-842, B-52s; 853-5937, Squeeze


Ever since the telephone became an essential appliance in homes, it has also found a place in music… in the form of songs referencing telephone numbers.

The earliest example I know of is “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s 1940 hit (though I’m sure there are even earlier ones). Does anyone remember the scene form Twin Peaks when Leland Palmer puts it on his Victrola then dances with his murdered daughter Laura’s photograph? Creepy in that Twin Peaks way.

By the mid 1950’s a phone number was used in the Brenda Lee rockabilly hit “Bigelow 6-2000.” Brenda is impatiently sitting by her phone, waiting for her “baby” to dial her number. (If he doesn’t, she’ll call him!)

Motown got into the act in 1962 with the release of “Beechwood 4-5789” by the Marvelettes. In this one the singer wants very badly for a guy she’s eyeing at a dance to take her number and give her a call.

In 1979 The B-52s released “6060-842” on their debut album, a song about a disconnected number. (It starts off the same way Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309” does, with “a number on the wall.”)

“853-5937” was released by Squeeze in the late 80s on their album Babylon and On. It’s about a guy who is frustrated because he gets Angela’s voice message machine every time he calls her. In the end, the jealous and paranoid guy thinks his friend – who also isn’t answering – may be hooking up with Angela.

Of course there are many others including the aforementioned “867-5309,” Wilson Pickett’s soul classic “634-5789,” Etta James’ sweaty R&B on “842-3089 (Call My Name)” and the funky “777-9311” by Morris Day. And these are just examples of songs that have the phone number in the title! There are probably countless others that have a number in the lyrics but not the title. Alicia Key’s “Diary” (489-4608) comes to mind. My daughter informed me that (678) triple 9-8212 is referenced in Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Thru the Phone.”

Can you think of any others?

Enjoy… until next week.

Specials and Amy Winehouse

Live in 2009. The music is good, but do the Specials seem like a multiracial band? And is Amy really a part of all this?

I like the music, I love the song Ghost Town, and I’ve become a huge Winehouse fan. She is amazing. But there was a missed opportunity here (and it was a bit odd just how the crowd was). Not blaming the band, but wasn’t the goal a more integrated following?

Songs that immediately clicked

That’s what Lawr posted about. I’m with him on Locomotion. Here’s his post about songs that grabbed him immediately. That’s a great idea, and I’m with him on Complete Control, maybe the greatest of the great Clash’s cuts.

I think he’s out of his mind on the Peter Gabriel, but that isn’t my call. What is my call is this is No. 1, without a doubt. Changed my life. Really.

But the Beatles were huger.


Buck Owens, Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass

1) This is my favorite Buck Owens.

2) Kick-ass fuzz guitar.

3) Kick-ass harpsichord.

4) Kick-ass three-quarter time.

5) The singer from Workin’ Class (best country cover band in Chicago when I worked for STATS, Inc. in the 1990s) and I used to discuss whether this was just Buck’s nice way of saying, “who’s gonna kiss your ass?” What do you think?

6) There’s a really lame live Hee Haw version on youtube with an accompanying awful video which is the perfect example of the buffoonery Buck Owens was subject to in the 1960s. There’s also a pretty good cover version by the Derailers with an accompanying pretty cool video, but it’s not as good as the original, which I give you now:

Buck Owens, Waitin’ On Your Welfare Line

I tried to write about this song as politics, because clearly Buck’s perspective on the benefits and costs of welfare in 1966 were courtly and open-armed. At least until he got a hug in and a kiss. But clearly Buck’s metaphor is romantic, not political, and it better serves this funny novelty to remind us that there was a time, say 1966, when the basic idea of government services providing a safety net and a leg up were not seen as some sort of political litmus test. Even if he’s driving a Cadillac.

I don’t think the general population disagrees with this any more than they did back then, but the schism is much more sharp today.

In any case, back in those simpler times a crazy extended metaphor could spend ten weeks at No. 1, and Big Government looked a lot like busted love.

“Pick On” Pink Floyd

Every week on my show on FNTSY (the Tout Wars Hour, 9-11 PM, ET every Thursday night he plugged shamelessly) I ask my special guest to reveal a favorite album, movie, TV show, athlete to watch, and food and the list, as Fantasy now spreads generations, is big fun.

There are wonderful surprises like Tim McLeod loving Sunburst Finish  by Be Bop Deluxe and Eno Sarris, being a fan of his namesake’s Taking Tiger Mountain by Storm.

A couple of weeks ago my special guest was Jeff Zimmerman, and when I suggested  that basic script for the show that week I also noted that during our final five minute  segment we do indeed review those pop items like players we like to watch and music  we like to listen to.

Jeff warned me in advance that he was not that much of a music person, and I  responded no problem, and there must be a Beatles or Stones or some kind of album or song in his head somewhere he liked and just do the best you can.

But, never, ever, ever, did I expect his actual entry to the list which is a blue grass cover of The Wall performed by Luther Wright and the Wrongs.

So, I went digging a little, and found the album, and during my guitar lesson that same week I asked my friend and mentor Steve Gibson if he knew about Luther and his band’s treatment of the Floyd.

Steve did not know The Wall specifically, but he was more than hep to Nashville musicians gathering and deconstructing famous albums and bands in a phenomenon known as “pick on,” as in “pick on Aerosmith” or “pick on AC/DC.”

I cannot say that this revisionism is totally my cup of tea as much as I like both the Floyd and blue grass. Clearly these guys are knockout musicians, but I think I actually prefer to hear them cover the Carters and Irish jigs, but just discovering this subculture of music was a kick and a half.

This is Luther’s treatment of my favorite tune from the Floyd album. I still prefer David Gilmour’s chorusy guitar ripping through, but this is still pretty good.