Song writing is a craft beset with clichés. Whether this is due to the fact that the English language isn’t quite as suited to rhyming as others (although, anyone whose seen the Eurovision song contest might have something to say about the musical suitability of a whole host of tongues), or if it’s just because people are lazy is the matter of much debate. Either way, hearing lines like “baby, I need you/ you make me fly/ so high/ in the sky” gets extremely tedious.
On the other hand, when wordsmiths over step themselves in the search for originality, the results can be equally disastrous and wonderful. Here’s a look at five of the best such examples:
“Solar prestige a gammon/Kool kar kyrie kay salmon/Hair ring molasses abounding/Common lap kitch sadin poor floundin”
Elton, ever concerned with co-ordination, seems to have decided to provide his wacky wardrobe with word play to match on this track. At first glance, the lyrics seem to be offering up some sort of coded message, but on closer examination it appears he’s simply having fun cramming the names of as many fish into his lines as possible. A little bit Edward Lear, this one, and that’s no bad thing…
“And they will ask me/ they will ask me/ how I wrote plastic man/ how I wrote plastic man”
Mark E Smith, arch sour-puss and leader of post-punk pioneers, The Fall, isn’t renowned as somebody who goes out of his way to make sense. Indeed, he seems to delight in causing confusion whenever he can. The song ‘How I Wrote Elastic Man’ is a case in point, featuring as it does the repeated line ‘how I wrote plastic man’, contrary to its title.
Apparently, Mark was trying to prove a point about journalists not listening to his lyrics properly and often misquoting them, in which case you’d have to say the line worked quite well, seeing as it is, to this day, still frequently misquoted as ‘how I wrote elastic man”. Can’t imagine why….
“He bag production/ he got walrus gumboot/ he got ono sideboard/ he one spinal cracker […] he got muddy water/ he one mojo filter”
The Beatles, as widely beloved and undoubtedly influential as they were, did quite enjoy talking a bit of nonsense. Who wouldn’t, knowing a sizeable proportion of the human race will eagerly examine anything you say with a fine tooth comb?
The reason these lines in particular make the list is that they all sound like weird slang terms for nasty venereal diseases, or labels for sexual deviants. “Hey, stay away from that guy, he’s a real spinal cracker, you’ll probably catch walrus gumboot just from sharing an elevator with him…”
“I left the South/ I traveled North /I got confused – I killed a horse […]/ I left the North again/ I traveled South again /And I got confused – I killed a nun”
On the b-side to their 1987 single, ‘Shelia Take a Bow’, England’s favourite gloom-mongers posed the question “is it really so strange?” A quick look at the lyrics affirms that the answer has to be a resounding “yes!”
When he wasn’t stealing horses, stabbing nuns and migrating back and forth across Britain on a bizarre spree of random criminality, Morrissey gave the world some of the most enduring lyrics to be used in pop music. It seems genius takes days off.
“And now you say you’ve got me out of your conscience/ I’ve been flushed from the bathroom of your heart”
Anyone will tell you, Johnny Cash could string words together in a highly affecting manner. Whilst the effect in question would normally be between heartbreak and righteous indignation, in the case of ‘Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart’, the reflex inspired is more likely to be the one associated with gagging.
Given that the second line of the song is the strangely poetic “in the bread line of your dreams I lost my place” it seems the song, as it progressed, followed a similar trajectory to poor Johnny’s heart, right down the toilet.
Will Kerr also writes for UK Net Guide, where you can find a wealth of information on all sorts of topics.