Monday, November 27, 2006

Remembrance of Horrible Lyrics Past

I guess it was late in 1991 when I first heard (and saw) the band Live on 120 Minutes. And despite the fact that the song was called "Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)" and the album was called Mental Jewelry, I became a moderately admiring fan. I wish saying "Hey, it was the early 90s" explained things. It's truer to say that the band did a decent impression of the more earnest side of R.E.M., and that was pretty much all I needed at that time. The follow-up, Throwing Copper, continued to vocally and musically ape R.E.M. and U2 enough to make it enjoyable. So, having now, in the 21st century, allowed myself the dorky task of recreating much of my lifetime musical library with the help of iTunes, I went looking for my favorite songs off Throwing Copper to add to the tomb. And as much as they're not right up my alley anymore, they continue to they come from the alley across the street. We're not talking about Whitesnake levels of guilt here. We're not talking about the kind of guilt that makes one wish that one had never been a 13-year-old boy. The songs aren't that bad.

But I knew that at some point Live did become that bad -- that my natural move away from them was helped along by the band taking a massive turn for the worse. So I went one step further on my search, and took a (very) quick listen to some of Secret Samadhi -- the band's third album, and the one that couldn't be defended even by someone as stubbornly lame as me.

This brief trip into the past wouldn't have inspired a post, but my quest left me with something I always love sharing with you: terrible lyrics. Feast your eyes on a few of these...

From "Rattlesnake":
let's go hang out in a mall, or a morgue,
a smorgasbord
let's go hang out in a church
we'll go find Lurch

let's go hang out in a bar
it's not too far
we'll take my car
From "Graze":
people should not be afraid
the artist does figure eights
but will it stand the test of time
or will it rot like the mission that tried too hard
And finally, from "Century":
everybody's here
puke stinks like beer
this could be a city
this could be a graveyard
you stole my idea

everybody's anxious
for the coming of the crisis
the collapse of the justice
i can smell your armpits
you stole my idea
you stole my idea!
I'm pretty sure no one would be interested in stealing those "ideas."

I'm a big believer that what looks average on the page can be a good, smart lyric when interpreted by a singer, but this stuff is just awful, and nothing else on the record is any better. Of course, at this point I was 23, not 17, so I can't really pat myself on the back too hard for having realized at the time that it was trash.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed. The really disappointing thing about that record is that they did manage to craft some of their most memorable hooks, melodies, and big anthemic choruses...and yet the lyrics are so atrocious that it really makes it all unlistenable.

I'd rather Ed had just used his fairly good voice and an instrument -- as many have -- and forgo the lyrics entirely.

8:48 PM  

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