Keno's Classic Rock n Roll Web Site
No Sense Lyrics Page
- Songs with lyrics that make no sense (or do they?) -
(Updated June 21, 2016)
Most of the time, many songs out there that have lyrics which confuse so many, actually do make sense, you just got to know what the song's writer was up to with the lyrics. But not all of these type of songs have been explained. The following tunes, along with the confusing - or plain out silly lyrics, are listed below, and most of them have never really been explained. The ones that have will be noted.
Now of course, there's a difference between writing lyrics on purpose that nobody understands (like John Lennon used to do), verses writing lyrics that flat out make no sense and have no meaning to the rest of song, which some other songwriters have done, and that is the only kind of songs we will be looking at on this page. I'd like to add, that most (but not all) of these songs are excellent numbers otherwise. This list is not in any way put together to make fun of these lyrics, but just to question them.
A Horse With No Name - America: "The heat was hot"....... You would think that if the song's writer (Dewey Bunnell) had just spent a little more time going over this song's lyrics, then maybe he could have come up with something a little better than "hot"? I know this song has a double meaning to it, one of those is describing the effects one feels when doing heroin ("horse" is slang for the drug), but please! I even tried to see if I could figure this one out since I do dig the song. Perhaps by "heat" he means the police? But no, that isn't what it means if you look at the words that follow this lyric.
Aqualung - Jethro Tull: "Do you still remember, December's foggy freeze, when the ice that clings on to your beard is screaming agony."... I love this song, well written, other than this one line. The visible part of hair (including beards) is dead tissue and has no nerve endings, therefore, it is pain free. We would not be able to cut our hair if that wasn't the case. Ice on a man's beard is not only painless, but the beard protects the face from the cold, hence why some men grow beards only in the winter months.
A Whiter Shade of Pale
- Procol Harum:
skipped the light fandango"...
Did you now!
This is one of those songs that most people don't get any of the
lyrics at all to, but I guess it's about getting laid, as many
Ballad of a Thin Man - Bob Dylan: "Now you see this one-eyed midget shouting the word "NOW", and you say, "For what reason?" and he says, "How?", and you say, "What does this mean?" and he screams back, "You're a cow, give me some milk or else go home"... What was that again? Perhaps Dylan is just playing around with the lyrics here, like he has done on other songs, but these lyrics seem real silly. Since nobody knows who Mr. Jones really is, that makes the lyrics harder to understand. Is this a song about a gay person? About a newspaper reporter? About Brian Jones, or David Bowie (who's birth name was David Jones)? All of this has been suggested, and as usual, Dylan isn't telling us!
Can't Find My Way Home - Blind Faith: "Come down off your throne and leave your body alone"..... Now wait a minute, how can a person leave their own body alone, and what throne is it that this person is up on? When asked what he meant when he wrote this line, Steve Winwood simply said "I don't have a clue what it means"
Dancing Days - Led Zeppelin: "I saw a lion he was standing alone, with a tadpole in a jar."... According to a Zeppelin fan who wrote me, this lyric makes sense. He tells me this: ....If you look at the line before it: "You told your mama I'd get you home, but you didn't say I had no car". In the following line that so many don't get, well, he is the lion, and because of the problems with his girlfriend, he is alone and not getting any, so the "tadpole" is, well, his sperm (since sperm looks something like a tadpole when viewed under a microscope).... So I guess this lion is jacking off into the jar then?
Dead Babies - Alice Cooper Group: "Daddy is an agrophile in Texas". Daddy is a.... what?? An agrophile? Since this song came out in the '70s I always wondered and asked others what the hell is a "agrophile", and nobody knew. Nowadays when we don't know what something like this means, we just Google it. Well, on the entire internet there is only one dictionary (dictionary.com) that has a meaning listed for this word, and it states: Something which thrives or lives in cultivated soil. A person on a song meaning site has taken this to mean daddy is "a lover of soil". But by going by that above definition, a agrophile cannot mean a person.... Others have suggested this is an example of neologism..... It was also once suggested perhaps the lyric was really "pedophile", and that would fit with the song's shocking story and flow well with the song's next lyrics which explain that mommy works as a stripper in a bar. But no, you can hear Alice sing "agrophile", yet I'm sure it doesn't mean that daddy is into agriculture, that just don't fit with the rest of this eerie song.
Don't Bring Me Down - Electric Light Orchestra: "Dont bring me down, grroosss!"...... What the hell does "grroosss" mean? (and no, they are not singing "Bruce" there either, not that Bruce would make any sense). But according to the album notes in the ELO compilation Flashback, what is being said is the German word "Gruß," which means either "greetings" or "compliments". But even going by those meanings, the lyrics still make no sense! After the song's release, so many people had misinterpreted the word as "Bruce" that Jeff Lynne actually began to sing the word as "Bruce" as a joke at live shows.
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey: "Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit" . If you know nothing about the city of Detroit, then nothing sounds wrong here. But for those who do know the city, well there is no such place as South Detroit. Joe Perry, who wrote the lyrics, did come clean on this one when in 2012 he stated that he just flat out made up this part of Detroit for no reason and he knew beforehand there was no such place. I have no problem with this, after all there is also no Margaritaville either, and nobody gives Jimmy Buffet a hard time with that made up location.
Do Wah Diddy Diddy — Manfred Mann: "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do"... I never could understood why some never got this song's title meaning, which is sung throughout most of the song. Clearly, the dude who is singing the song is very happy, thanks to his hot girlfriend, and this is how he is expressing his feelings.
Do You Think I Really Care - Rolling Stones: "I see her on the freeway".... Not in the Empire State do you! Mick Jagger said he wrote this excellent country-rock song about New York City life, but those from New York City don't ever call their expressways - "freeways". A "freeway" is a foreign word to most New Yorkers, it's not what they call their highways, and they don't have any freeways there.
Get Off Of My Cloud - Rolling Stones: "I was sick and tired, fed up with this and decided to take a drive downtown; It was so very quiet and peaceful, there was nobody, not a soul around".... Why would a person go downtown if they wanted to escape city life? That's the last place one would go. You would drive out of town, not downtown, to get away from that! Plus there "wasn't a soul around"? There's always some people downtown in busy cities like London, even in the middle of the night.
Godzilla - Blue Öyster Cult: "Helpless people on a subway trains, scream bug-eyed as he looks in on them". I have to wonder if when this excellent song was written by Buck Dharma, if he actually had another monster movie in mind, that being King Kong, since in that movie, we see Kong picking up a elevated railway train and look directly into it as the passengers look back at him in horror. But what is described in the above lyrics couldn't happen at all since subway trains are, well, underground, and would be the one safe place to be if Godzilla was above ground destroying Tokyo.
Hotel California - The Eagles: "So I called up the captain, 'Please bring me my wine', he said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since 1969'".... I always got the correct drift from this lyric, but many others don't. True, wine isn't a spirit, it's fermented and spirits are distilled. But as Don Henley, the song's writer noted, the alcoholic beverage (the wine) wasn't what he was writing about when he used the word "spirit". He was playing around with the word and use it for one of its other meanings, as with dealing in intellectual and emotional powers.
Hot For Teacher - Van Halen: "Oh man, I think the clock is slow.I don't feel tardy".... Then that should mean that you think the clock is fast, not slow.
I Am I Said - Neil Diamond: No one heard at all not even the chair.... The guy in the song is so lonely that he is referring to a chair as a person and talking to it. Oh well, some lonely people talk to walls, too.
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida - Iron Butterfly: "In-a-gadda-da-vida, honey, don't you know that I love you"... No, these lyrics don't make sense and really, they aren't suppose to. This is one of those songs that we have been given the answers to as to why it was written that way. The song's title (and the lyrics) were originally "In The Garden Of Eden", but according to the liner notes from a latter day CD compilation release: ..... The band's drummer, Ron Bushy, when the band was working on the song, asked singer Doug Ingle what he was singing, because he could not make out the words. He heard "in-a-gadda-da-vida", and after that the band liked the jumbled, misunderstood lyrics better, and kept them.
In the Year 2525 - Zager & Evans:"In the year 2525...." The lyrics to most of this hit song are just so silly. Now I know they are only guessing what might be in the distance future, but please, what they come up with in many verses is either far fletched and/or ridiculous. What is written about what can be expected in the year 2525 - is that those who are alive in 2525 - will find out what will happen... in 3535? Now how is that possible? The lyrics only get more ridiculous as the song goes on. In 6565 they are claiming we will start to have our children via test tubes. Now how, even back in the nineteen sixties when this song was written, did they not know that this technique was already being tested in labs at that time and within only years (1978) test tube babies would already be happening? So the song's lyrics were only off by 4,587 years! Then we have more... In 7510, the lyrics claim God is gonna return and end the world (the "Second Coming") - so okay, that should be the end of the song - and mankind, right? Nope, next thing we know it's the year 8510 and mankind is still around! For 8510, the lyrics this time only suggest God will (once again) end all life on earth. But no, that's not the case, as in 9595, according to the song, man will still be around, but watch out for what's gonna happen in just 5 more years time from then! Then finally it ends with: "Now it's been 10,000 years, man has cried a billion tears..." Nope, they forgot that man didn't start out in the year 1 AD, mankind was around for millions of years before, in BC.
Jailbreak - Thin Lizzy: "Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak, somewhere in the town"... Great song but a silly lyric, there is of course only one place where a jail break can take place.
Jumpin' Jack Flash - Rolling Stones: "I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread"....... The question remains - why would such a upbeat cat like Jack do this; why would anybody frown at bread?
Killer Queen - Queen: "To avoid complications, she never kept the same address"..... Then you would keep the same address, no? Changing your address often would lead to confusion.
Live With Me - Rolling Stones: "You'd look good pram pushing down the high street".... This one isn't really a case of a lyric that makes no sense (unless you live in the US), but getting the English language confused thanks to a word meaning one thing in the UK, and totally something else in the US. The confusing word here is "pram', which in the US, where I live, means a small boat. When I first heard this song I could not figure out why he would want to see her walking down the street while pushing a boat. I didn't know back then when this song first came out, that in the UK, a pram wasn't a boat at all - it's what the Brits call a baby carriage!
London Calling - The Clash: "Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust".... If you only look at this part of the lyrics, then yes, this line would be flat out nuts and make no sense. If there was one thing that was real, it was the Beatlemania of the 1960s, and even by late 1979 when this song was released, Beatlemania still hadn't bitten the dust, and even today, all these decades later, it's still with us to some extent. Not until the very last group of Baby Boomers are dead, will Beatlemania bite the dust - but even then, only maybe!.... But with that said, this one line lyric appears to actually be connected to the lyrics (line) directly before it, so many would argue that it should be shown in this matter: "London calling, now don't look to us, phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust".... Now, if this is so, and I believe it is, then these 2 combined lyrics are very interesting, especially in what I've been told what these lyrics actually mean. I know that some Clash fans think that what Joe Strummer is saying here, is hey, leave us out of this, we don't want to take the route the Beatles took. I can only half believe this myself, as I believe Strummer did like being a spokesmen for the Punks, to some extent. But I find very interesting what other Clash fans are claiming (online). They say this lyric is actually Strummer saying 'look, the punk movement died out last year (1977), we tried, but it's over now, so don't look to us for anymore help.' So Joe is actually referring to the Punk movement of the '70s as being, in this case, the "phony Beatlemania" and that it's time now to more on since it's all over? Hum, interesting, but who knows if that's true or not. Summer admitting that his fellow punks failed at making change? He's admitting that the Punks failed just like the Hippies before them failed 10 years earlier? Well, if nothing else, it would be the truth, both groups believed in the same politics, were both anti-establishment, and both groups did fail in the end. Yet it was his fellow Punks who rejected the Hippies, and rejecting those who agree with you and who is actually on the same side that you're on, isn't a wise thing to do at all - it can directly lead to failure, and in this case, it did. So if that is what Strummer was writing about here, or something close to that, then these lyrics have no business being on this page. That shit makes total sense, and it was the truth!
Love Hurts - Nazareth's cover only: "Love is like a flame, it burns you when it's hot". The original lyrics to this song, written by Boudleaux Bryant and covered by several artists, made sense: "love is like a stove, it burns you when it's hot". Then Nazareth went and changed the word (and the lyric's meaning) "stove" to "flame", and that makes no sense. If you're in love and it's a hot, flaming love, well love and its flame don't hurt at all, it fact it feels great! But if that love totally dies, as is the case with this song, well the flame dies out, and there isn't no flame anymore. A lost love can burn you, no question, but when the flame is there and is hot, you feel no pain what-so-ever, so changing the lyric made no sense.
Macarthur Park - Richard Harris: "All the sweet, green icing flowing down, somebody left the cake out in the rain, I don't think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it, and Ill never have that recipe again!".......... You'd think Richard Harris was having a nervous breakdown the way he sang this part of the song towards the song's ending; he must have really been hungry - perhaps from smoking weed before he sang this line.
Lola - The Kinks: "Well I'm not dumb but I can't understand why she walked like a woman and talked like a man."... Lets face it, any guy who would fall for such a gal, especially with all of the other clues given about Lola in this song, would be nothing short of dumb if he didn't understand, or even just made this statement in the first place.
Lookin' Out My Back Door - Creedence Clearwater Revival : "A dinosaur Victrola, list'ning to Buck Owens".... I've had a couple of people asking me to add this one to the list. I never realized some didn't realize what this lyric meant, but as time moves further away from the 20th Century, even more will not understanding this either, so please let me explain if you are wondering yourself. First, the word "dinosaur" is not referring to the giant animals of long ago, but instead is being used for it's other meaning - "outdated/old". A Victrola was one of the very first (and at the time, most popular) records players, put out by Victor. You had to crank it up with a handle to get it to work. The last ones were sold in 1929. So all this means is that John Fogerty was just listening to a Buck Owens song on a very old record player. Click here to see a photo of an old Victrola, this was once the old logo for RCA.
Lucky Man - Emerson, Lake & Palmer: "He went
to fight wars....Ooooh, what a lucky man he was....A bullet had found
him, his blood ran as he cried, no money could save him, so he laid down
and he died. Ooooh, what a lucky man he was."... For years I always
asked this question about this song: How is a guy who dies young in a
war, a lucky man? A very "unlucky man" I would say. But since Greg Lake
did write this song when he was only 12 years old, let's give these lyrics a
pass, for that reason.
Ob-la-di ob-la-da - The Beatles: "Ob-la-di ob-la-da....." Some think this is a made -up word that makes no sense. It isn't. "Ob-la-di ob-la-da" means exactly the same as the words that follow it means, that is: "Life goes on", in Nigerian. Paul McCartney got this saying from a Nigerian conga player, Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor, whom he was friends with.
Once In A Lifetime - Talking Heads: "Water dissolving... and water removing, there is water at the bottom of the ocean, remove the water, carry the water, remove the water from the bottom of the ocean".... Say what? Do what?
Pinball Wizard - The Who: "He plays by sense of smell".... I know that some blind people have better than average sences when it comes to things like sound, but the boy in the song is deaf, blind and dumb, and even if he had a great sense of smell, how does that make him play pinball? You can't smell a pinball, or a pinball machine.
Ride Captain Ride - The Blues Image: "As a storm was blowin' out on the peaceful sea"..... This hippie song is about 73 men (where are the women?) who get on a ship to look for a happier land to live on. But if they are out on a boat in a storm with winds blowing, well, how can the sea be peaceful? If you ever saw the video to this song, when that exact lyric is sung, the boat that is shown is sailing in some rough waters, too.
Roundabout - Yes: "Mountains come out of the sky - and they stand there"....... They came from where and they do what? I guess these mountians must have legs to just stand there and they must also have wings too if they came from the sky.
Sam Stone - John Prine: "Little pitchers have big ears"....... What does this mean? Well, thanks in part to one of our lurkers, and also after my own searching around on the internet a bit, we have an answer that explains the lyric to this song. Now, this line is not about a baseball pitcher; it's referring to a pitcher which holds liquids. Okay, still confused?.... First, this actually turns out to be an old saying as to the resemblance of the ears - to the handles of a pitcher. Then when using this old saying in the lyric, it is being used as a play on words, in remarking about Sam Stone's children, who are affected by their father's drug addiction. Children do hear and understand more than many adults think they do. This ancient saying, was first recorded by John Heywood in 1546: "Auoyd your children, smal pitchers haue wide eares." (This info comes from The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers, Ballantine Books, New York, 1985). Since the lyric in "Sam Stone" before this lyric talks about junkie Sam Stone's children knowing that their father has a drug problem: "There's a hole in daddy's arm, where all the money goes", well now this lyric about the pitcher makes sense, as does the line that follows that lyric, too, as "don't stop and count the years" is now clearly connected to what he is talking about in the pitcher lyric, since parents often will remark that they don't want to think about how fast their kids grow up (or count the years). ..... I want to thank Harv Thiessen who emailed me on this and got me to confirm what he knew.
Smooth Operator - Sade: "Coast to coast, L. A. to Chicago"...... Okay, I know Sade is pop and not classic rock - but, this has to go down as one of the stupidest lyrics in music, so I had to list it.
Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin: "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, dont be alarmed now its just a spring clean for the May Queen"....... This one was sent in to me and I knew what it mean right off the bat, but I found a place that can explain it better than myself, so please visit this link if you need to know
Still You Turn Me On - Emerson Lake and Palmer: "Every day a little sadder, a little madder, someone fetch me a ladder"....... He needs a ladder? The song is about a girl that turns on a guy. So where does the ladder come in?
Stoned Sold Picnic - Laura Nyro (covered by The 5th Dimension): "Can you surry, can you picnic? Come on, come on and surry down to a stoned soul picnic" -and- "Surry, surry, surry".... The word "surry" is used throughout the song. But what does it mean? Well, there isn't any such word spelled this way, so it's used as a neologism by Nyro. When asked what it was suppose to mean, Nyro simply said "Oh, it's just a nice word."
SWLABR - Cream: "You've got that rainbow feel, but the rainbow has a beard" and "But the picture has a mustache". I have heard countless, different explanations as to what these lyrics mean, and none of them really make any sense, but I think the best explanation is that the song's writers, Peter Brown and Jack Bruce, were doing some strong acid when they wrote this gem. Of course we can't forget that the song's title is confusing too. Yeah I know it's an acronym for - well.... it depends on which Cream fan you ask what it stands for, but of the 2 meanings I hear the most, this first one makes zero sense: "She Walked Like A Bearded Rainbow". However, although the second title also appears to mean something ridiculous, maybe it doesn't: "She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow". According to a quote from Brown, the "bearded rainbow" is in reference to the plant of almost the same name, that being a bearded rainbow iris. Okay, so she's as colorful as a iris I guess. But we still got these lyrics about a mustache to figure out
Teach Your Children - CSNY: "The one they picks"...... What? Children don't pick their parents, nor do parents pick their kids (not blood parents, and not when this song was written), so what the heck does that mean?
The Ballad of Billy The Kid - Billy Joel.... Just about all of the lyrics in this song are incorrect. Among a few of them: "From a town known as Wheeling, West Virginia".... Nope. Billy the Kid was from New York City of all places... "Well, he started with a bank in Colorado" and "He robbed his way from Utah to Oklahoma". Billy never robbed a bank in his life, and he mainly hung out and hid in New Mexico... "He always rode alone". Billy rarely rode alone, he was the most famous member of the "Regulators".... "He never had a sweetheart". Billy was known to fancy the ladies... "And he never had a home, but the cowboy and the rancher knew his name". Not when he was alive did they, other than where he was living in New Mexico, few knew who he was. It wasn't until after his death that most people learned about the Kid..... "The judge said, 'String him up for what he did!' And the cowboys and their kin like the sea came pourin' in to watch the hangin' of Billy the Kid". This of course never happen. Billy didn't die from hanging, he was shot to death by Sherriff Pat Garrett in the middle of the night with few around to witness his death.
The Joker - Steve Miller Band: "Some people call me Maurice, cause' I speak of the pompitous of love".... Once again, another example of neologism, this time using the word "pompitous", which was taken from the word "puppetutes" (a portmanteau of "puppet" and "prostitutes"), which was used in the lyrics of the Medallions' 1954 hit song "The Letter."
The Wrestler - Bruce Springsteen: "Have you ever seen a one legged dog makin his way down the street?"... What? How? That's impossible! Now a three legged dog would make sense, but a one legged dog doesn't.
Uneasy Rider - Charlie Daniels Band: This wonderful ditty has a mistake in it's lyrics. He makes note of "These 5 big dudes come strollin in with one old drunk chick and some fella with green teeth". So that's 6 guys. Then he mentions that he didn't want to get in a fight with these rednecks: "Now the last thing I wanted was to get into a fight In Jackson Mississippi on a Saturday night, especially when there was three of them and only one of me."
Ventura Highway -
America: "Alligator lizards in the air".... Okay, does
somebody want to explain how these alligator lizards can fly or how they got into the air
in the first place? Maybe they were on one of those mountains in the sky from the Yes
Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy - Sammy Hagar: "Hot, sweet cherries on the vine"... Has Sammy ever heard the story about how cherries grow - on a cherry tree, not on a vine!
Your Move - Yes: "Don't surround yourself with yourself".....Just exactly what does this mean? Well, it is pretty clear to me this song is about playing chess, but many insist it was written as a anti-war song and why Jon Anderson, the song's author, placed two of John Lennon's song titles in it (that being "Instant Karma" and "Give Peace a Chance")..... Then also in the same song we have: "Make the white queen run so fast, she hasn't got time to make you a wife"..... What the heck doesn this lyric mean?