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and with a cat like that you know you should be cats

The world is a dark and a terrible place. Horrible, morally insane things are happening. Let us resist them as best we are able, and in the meantime replace various nouns in the lyrics of well-known pop songs with the word “cats,” that we might whistle against the coming of the night together a while longer.
Song Lyrics Improved By Replacing Proper Nouns With Cats: Part 1. Part 2. By Mallory Ortberg. DLTT.
posted by medusa on Aug 19, 2014 - 52 comments

Where Have You Gone, Easily Recognized References?

"The Joe DiMaggio line was written right away in the beginning. And I don't know why or where it came from. It seems so strange, like it didn't belong in that song and then, I don't know, it was so interesting to us that we just kept it. So it's one of the most well-known lines that I've ever written." An analysis of Simon and Garfunkel's 1968 hit, "Mrs. Robinson". [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 12, 2014 - 69 comments

The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop

Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare’s vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever (average people have a vocab of 5,000 words). I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.

posted by cthuljew on May 3, 2014 - 79 comments

Gigantic, gigantic! A big, big -- um, wait a second... (possibly NSFW)

Apple's new iPhone commercial uses that ultra-catchy Pixies classic, "Gigantic". But... Do you think the producers of the commercial knew what the song is about? A calculated gamble that 98% of viewers would not? Clever marketing designed to create a stir? Or just plain cluelessness?
posted by mikeand1 on Apr 26, 2014 - 118 comments

He got 20 years for lovin' her / from some Oklahoma governor

Ever been to Johnsburg, Illinois? Have you received a Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis? Maybe you left Waukegan at the slamming of the door? Or perhaps you were simply full of wonder when you left Murfreesboro. If so, the Tom Waits map is for you.
posted by scody on Jan 17, 2014 - 60 comments

Musical theatre used to be the last refuge of perfect rhyme.

Broadway musicals can’t bust a rhyme
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jun 11, 2013 - 37 comments

Hands down the illest ventriloquist this side of the Mississippi River

To celebrate the release soulful Southern fried stoner rock band Clutch's new album, Earth Rocker, LA Weekly have put together a list of the Top Ten Awesomely Absurd and Absurdly Awesome Clutch Lyrics. It doubles as an introduction to Clutch, though you can just jump into the title track and Crucial Velocity from Earth Rocker.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants on Mar 21, 2013 - 23 comments

Nothing Else Matters

Kathryn Bigelow's striking bin Laden manhunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty arrives in wide release tonight on the heels of a final artful trailer -- one with oddly familiar musical accompaniment. The funereal hymn, a cover of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" (lyrics), deftly recasts the 90s power ballad as a haunting dirge of quiet grief, shattered ideals, and a singleminded focus on revenge, a perfect distillation of the film's profoundly grim thesis. But while the song may be fitting, it wasn't composed for the project -- it's just the latest success story from Belgian women's choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers, whose mournful reinterpretations of classic and modern rock -- catapulted by their rendition of "Creep" in The Social Network -- have made them famous around the world, with star turns in the likes of Homeland ("Every Breath You Take") and Downton Abbey ("With or Without You"). Cover comparison site WhoSampled offers a list of YouTube comparisons between the covers and the originals; look inside for more of their work in movies and television. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jan 11, 2013 - 46 comments

EPIC RAP BATTLES OF HISTORY! ...RHAOMI! ...VERSUS... RHYTHM! ...BEGIN!!!

Since it debuted on the blue in '11 // Epic Rap Battles of History preppin' // to score itself more than a billion views // and become TopDog of the pack YouTube
Made by NicePeter and EpicLloyd // (two improv comics by Maker employed) // The series pits icons of legend renowned // in a slick-wit freestyle rap throwdown
With snappier writing, and better FX // online celebs (and Google Ad checks) // The Epic Rap crew's halfway done with the brew // that is Epic Rap Battles of History Part Deux
The midseason's close? It comes out today. // In one corner: Santa Claus, fresh from his sleigh
And his prophet o' doom? "He ain't Mayan," ERBoH sez.
It's Snoop Dogg -- Snoop Lion -- as mothafuckin' Moses
[WHO WON?][WHO'S NEXT?][more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 10, 2012 - 27 comments

Any fool can think of words that rhyme, many others do, why can't you?

30 beautiful song lyrics
posted by Hartster on May 24, 2012 - 121 comments

"South Detroit is as fictional as the Shire of Middle-earth"

"I ran the phonetics of east, west, and north, but nothing sounded as good or emotionally true to me as South Detroit," he says. "The syntax just sounded right. I fell in love with the line. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned that there is no South Detroit. But it doesn’t matter." One of rock's greatest mysteries, finally solved.
posted by jbickers on Jan 11, 2012 - 106 comments

♫ "The first and only freely-available, industrial-scale dataset for research on popular music and audio analysis" ♬

"The Million Song Dataset is a freely-available collection of audio features and metadata for a million contemporary popular music tracks." It's about 288 GB but you can download a smaller subset of 10,000 songs selected at random to get a taste. Curious what you'll get? Check out this example track description. [more inside]
posted by jessamyn on Oct 2, 2011 - 27 comments

He put a ring on it, and it felt like a kiss

Endless Noise turns Beyonce's Single Ladies into a tribute to the girl groups of Motown.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 13, 2011 - 25 comments

Who the f**k is Wikileaks? ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

At long last, Wikileaks gets a catchy theme song: "Who the f**k is Wikileaks" by "Chicken Soup (Boney M Goes Club)", a new project from veteran producer Frank Farian, the man behind Boney M and Milli Vanilli. Warning: the song contains repeated use of the "F"-word, and the video contains images of the "anonymous" mask. [more inside]
posted by iviken on Mar 8, 2011 - 32 comments

We'll Marry Our Fortunes Together

In recession-hit Saginaw, MI, the initial setting of Simon and Garfunkel's "America", mural painter Eric Shantz has begun painting the lyrics to the song on abandoned buildings.
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Dec 19, 2010 - 41 comments

Who knew Mike D knew so many dance moves.

Beastie Boys Annotated [more inside]
posted by cthuljew on Dec 16, 2010 - 44 comments

Well, he was smilin’ like a vulture as he rolled up the horticulture

Out on bail, fresh outta jail, California dreamin’
Soon as I stepped on the scene, I’m hearin’ hoochies screamin’

What a surprise to read that couplet on "The New Yorker's" website, in an article about Jay-Z's new book. It also discusses Adam Bradley's "Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop," an academic study that respects rap lyrics as serious poetry. [more inside]
posted by grumblebee on Dec 4, 2010 - 82 comments

"I realized it is basically insane to make any kind of judgment about rap without hearing it."

Listening to Rap for the First Time, with a Book Critic
posted by OverlappingElvis on Nov 4, 2010 - 80 comments

Finding Lyrics Everywhere

The Gregory Brothers do it with YouTube videos (as seen previously on the blue). Gabriel Kahane and Sam Krahn did it with Craigslist. Phil Kline and Bryant Kong did it with Donald Rumsfeld. Making music from found lyrics is booming. [more inside]
posted by sgranade on Oct 6, 2010 - 8 comments

Each of us a cell of awareness, imperfect and incomplete

Rhetorical analysis of Rush's "Free Will"
posted by jtron on Aug 31, 2010 - 86 comments

You Can't Catch Me

You Can't Catch Me, Music and Lyrics by Chuck Berry. The Stones covered it. John Lennon was sued (twice!) for covering it and appropriating the lyrics. If Iggy Pop and the Stooges were never sued for doing the same thing as "Come Together" in 1970, perhaps it's because nobody could understand what exactly he was saying, not even the bands that took their names from the adapted lyrics. Perhaps JJ Cale was thinking of the chorus when he wrote Call Me The Breeze in 1971. Finally, though Jonothan Richman's "Roadrunner" clearly took inspiration from the Velvet Underground's Sister Ray and Bo Diddley's "Road Runner"(among other things), but, as a Berry fan, you can hear Richman echoing the lyrics in the Spirit of 1956 going Faster Miles an Hour, with the radio on, tuned to Rock And Roll. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 19, 2010 - 43 comments

National Anthems of the World

Have you ever wondered what the national anthem of Bolivia, Nepal or The Republic of Seychelles sounded like? Well wonder no more because NationalAnthems.info has got you covered! It claims to have the national anthem for every country in the world in MIDI format, along with downloadable lyrics and sheet music so you can sing and play along. But if the MIDI format isn't doing it for you, there's also other sites that you can visit that have downloadable MP3s of pretty much every national anthem this planet and its inhabitants have to offer, such as this one or this one, which is notable in that the anthems featured there were performed by the US Navy Band. And finally, for your further reading and listening pleasure, check out this forum which contains background information on and even more links to downloadable national anthems.
posted by Effigy2000 on Sep 22, 2008 - 14 comments

Prewar Blues Lyrics & Dylan Lyrics Concordances 'N Stuff

The things I like best about Michael Taft's Prewar Blues Lyrics Concordance, a subsection of T. G. Lindh's Web Concordances of Pre-War Blue Lyrics and Bob Dylan Lyrics, are the listings of the lyrics by singer: A - C, D - H, J - L, M - R and S - Y. And the nice thing about the blues lyrics is you don't need to ask for a log in and password. It 's all right there. Explore and enjoy. [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Mar 5, 2008 - 9 comments

Lyrical visuals

Solar, with lyrics. A very pretty, surprisingly wordy video. (via)
posted by Pronoiac on Feb 4, 2008 - 20 comments

Protest Songs

So are you ready to march on Washington to protest in song? Here are some lyrics. Some examples from the 60's. Something sweet from Bob Dylan. Speaking of Zimmermans, here's Roy's take on Iraq. [more inside]
posted by snsranch on Oct 14, 2007 - 33 comments

Famous First Words

The 25 Best Pop Song Opening Lyrics, like EVER - a spinner.com 'hit list', complete with wry commentary and abruptly cut-off audio clips. Bonus: 25 more, suggested by people who don't work for the webside. [more inside]
posted by wendell on Sep 6, 2007 - 254 comments

Carlos Gardel and the Tango

Carlos Gardel was a singer who became a national icon of Argentina. He sang the tango among other styles, but would now be most famous for this, which was originally this. (Lyrics here.) For those of you who think this is all too romantic, listen to another side of tango...(Translation here.)
posted by StrikeTheViol on Aug 1, 2007 - 10 comments

Bomb the Bass

Bug Powder Dust
Lyrics, by Bomb the Bass
posted by hypersloth on Jul 10, 2007 - 36 comments

Great Russian Voices

Giants of Soviet opera are little known in the West. But Victor Han has taken it upon himself to keep their memory alive....my personal favorite is Mark Reizen, a deeply nuanced bass, who was powerful enough to carry on singing into his ninth decade. If you'd care to follow along with some of the songs, you can use Emily Ezust's massive archive of lyrics, to which Victor contributes. Or, try listening in English first. Too much music? Here's some reading.
posted by StrikeTheViol on May 13, 2007 - 9 comments

Haaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! The Laughing Policeman!

When I was a kid, my dad, who grew up in London, during the Blitz, used to play this old record: a song called "The Laughing Policeman." It always put a smile on my face. According to Wikipedia, it was written in 1922 by Charles Jolly, who wrote "numerous other laughing songs (The Laughing Major, Curate, Steeplechaser, Typist, Lover, etc)." If you want to hear the happiest policeman ever, here's the mp3. The song has inspired cartoonists, mystery novelists (great series, by the way!), filmmakers, a more-recent recording (mp3), and, inevitably, some scary people on youtube. Speaking of youtube, this is how I remember the song.
posted by grumblebee on Feb 11, 2007 - 41 comments

Bob Dylan Annnotated and Tablaturated

Artur J's Annotated Lyrics of Bob Dylans Love and Theft has expanded and now features Annotated lyrics for Street Legal, Knocked Out Loaded, Oh, Mercy and Modern Times. And he is already on top of Dylan's quotes of Henry Timrod on the new album. On a related tip, someone waved a lawyer at Eyolf Østrem, so he removed all his tabs from his Dylan tablature site, My Back Pages. But, fortunately there are some mirrors and the blog of this one has a tab page for Modern Times already.
posted by y2karl on Sep 14, 2006 - 13 comments

It's like 10 000 spoons when all you need is a knife

32 worst lyrics of all time
posted by mr.marx on Jul 21, 2006 - 254 comments

i was standing by the window

Made most popular to many Americans as the closing song for the Grand Ole Opry programs, Will The Circle Be Unbroken was written in 1907 by Ada Habershon, an intensely religious young woman and acquaintance of Dwight Moody and Ira David Sankey. The music was "composed" by Charles Gabriel, a popular songwriter and composer of the era who is often solely credited with the song, but while he may have put the notes down on paper, the tune itself already existed as the African-American spiritual Glory Glory / Since I Laid My Burden Down. [lots more inside]
posted by luriete on May 26, 2006 - 18 comments

Singhing the blues

When science meets art. Science writer Simon Singh was annoyed with the lyrics to British singer Katie Melua's latest single. He rewrote them to be scientifically accurate, and she sings the unfortunate result (RealAudio file).
posted by smackfu on Oct 22, 2005 - 21 comments

the saddest song I've ever heard

The Streets of Laredo: The Cowboy's Lament was originally written as the Irish drover balled Bard of Armaugh (or Armagh), which later mutated into A Handful of Laurel, about a young man dying of syphilis in a London hospital, musing back on his days in the alehouses and whorehouses. Immigrants settling in the Appalachians brought their own version, The Unfortunate Rake, sung as early as 1790, about a young soldier dying of mercury poisoning, a result of treatment for venereal disease, who requests a military funeral - a slight but important evolution from the previous version. The current lyrics are most popularly attributed to cowboy Frances Henry "Frank" Maynard, who copyrighted them in 1879. While various versions of the song were popular in the US before Maynard took pen to paper and needle to wax cylinder (under such titles as Locke Hospital, St. James Infirmary Blues, Tom Sherman's Bar and Way Down in Lodorra), his version is the one with which we are most familiar today.

beat the drum slowly, play the fife lowly / sound the death march as you carry me along / cover my body in sweet-smelling posies / for I'm the young (rake, soldier, man, girl, lass, etc) cut down in (his/her) prime (or and I know I've done wrong)

The song has been recorded by pretty much every country, western and folk-identified musical artist since recording music became practical, although the most popular versions must be those by Arlo Guthrie (who once said it was "the saddest song I know," and who sings it on his album Son of the Wind) and Johnny Cash (who added a few verses to his 1965 version, improving the song a bit and making it more emotionally complex). Roger McGuinn's creative commons-licensed version is one of my personal favorites, as is Bobby Sutliff's version.
posted by luriete on Aug 3, 2005 - 26 comments

People have a problem with me, cause I ain't lazy...

"I Ain't Lazy" (lyrics NSFW) featuring Skratch Bastid, John Smith & Pip Skid. A day-in-the-life indie hip-hop video directed by Jason Lapeyre featuring another top notch crew of PCRs.
posted by boost ventilator on Apr 16, 2005 - 16 comments

songs in list form

• Things which we will rock:
- you

Songs in list form:
- the best thing ever to come from LiveJournal
- Amazingly addictive
- via waxy.org
posted by me3dia on Mar 28, 2005 - 86 comments

Deep Inside Jon Bon Jovi

Deep inside the poetic stylings of John Bon Jovi. To begin, I'd like to look at the opening verses of "Bed of Roses". You may think you understand the meaning behind this poem - that John Bon Jovi likes a lady, and is upset about it. This is just a sign of the brilliant, interweaving complexity of Bon Jovi. You can love the poem at that level, and many have, but let's go... inside.[Coral Link - In case the other doesn't work]
posted by KevinSkomsvold on Feb 23, 2005 - 23 comments

Things to do when bored

Jenny, from every block. The results of dialing 867-5309 for every area code in America. Now, no one else ever has to, "just to see."
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Jan 3, 2005 - 48 comments

beyond lyrics

Song meanings is a site where you can read the lyrics to a song and then post your thoughts on what the song means.
posted by bargle on Nov 18, 2004 - 57 comments

If you see your mom, tell her I said SATAN!!!

Ceci Nes't Pas Une Satanic Message • "Years ago someone told me that if you played Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven song backwards that you could make out 'satanic messages'. It is not my opinion that Led Zeppelin and the other artists here were given some kind of evil power to make these backwards sounds have a satanic message. And, no, I did not create this to show the evils of Rock and Roll. Instead I made this flash piece for two reasons: 1. I was new to Flash and wanted to be better at it and 2. The reverse files sound cool. "
posted by dhoyt on Oct 8, 2004 - 15 comments

"To say what you feel is to make your own grave."

Hootenanny songbook. "Music is our bomb."
posted by xowie on Jun 6, 2004 - 4 comments

It's plucky!

Chordie: Did OLGA leave you in the lurch? Or when she came back, did it just never feel the same? Do text-based song transcriptions make you rub your eyes and stumble over missing lyrics? [after the bridge, there is more inside]
posted by mwhybark on Apr 27, 2004 - 12 comments

Ella Fitzgerald And The Lyrics Of The Great American Standards

The Song Is You: If ever there was a perfect singer - and I do mean perfect - it was Ella Fitzgerald. Her Songbooks (please scroll down for the listings and samples) are still - and will always be - the best collection there is of the great American standards. That is, if you don't mind crying and having the little hairs on the nape of your neck stand up and revolt. And swing. They'd be the last records objects I'd be willing to part with: they're the mother's milk of American Western popular culture. So imagine my surprise when I found their perfect counterpart on the Web: the best-ever collection of lyrics to the songs of the greatest American composers: Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Richard Rodgers. Admirably, the compiler has gone way beyond his duty and included wonderful standards (quite a few unknown to me) that even Ella never got around to singing. Thank you, Todd. And God bless you, Sir!
posted by MiguelCardoso on Sep 22, 2003 - 26 comments

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven - a deep, philosophical rendering of the crappy contracting work at Page's castle. Better yet is the feedback from fans who take exception to satire.
posted by PrinceValium on Jul 13, 2003 - 35 comments

Hey Jude, what does that song mean?

Hey Jude, what does that song mean? The Beatles Discography lets you look up almost any Beatles song, and find out about its history and meaning. According to this, one of my favorite Beatles songs, "Paperback Writer," was written after Paul's aunt challenged him to write a song that wasn't about love. And "She's Leaving Home," another favorite, was based on a newspaper article about a runaway 17-year-old girl. and supposedly was attacked in the U.S. as being somehow pro-abortion. I always wondered if there was a real "Polyethene Pam," but I had no idea her name was really Pat, and that she ate plastic. Fascinating stuff.
posted by GaelFC on Mar 30, 2003 - 25 comments

I'm your only friend, I'm not your only friend, but I'm a little glowing friend, but really I'm not actually your friend but I am.

"I'm your only friend, I'm not your only friend, but I'm a little glowing friend, but really I'm not actually your friend but I am." or "Everything I needed to know I learned by listening to [insert band name here]."
posted by poopy on Feb 20, 2003 - 112 comments

Country Joe's Rag

Fixin'to Die after all these years Woodstock-era protest singer Country Joe McDonald still keeps an active pulse on today's events on his website. One of what eventually came to be perhaps his most famous song, the "I-Feel-Like-Fixin'-to-Die rag" has taken new life in light of current events, which is quite simple to deduct: just substitute all the Vietnam references with "Iraq" and there you have it - as many people have been happy to do by submitting their own lyrics versions to the site, somehow confirming that the world actually hasn't changed much in that respect 30 years after Vietnam...
posted by betobeto on Jan 29, 2003 - 7 comments

Fiddle about

Pete Townshend is denying any link to paedophilia, but some may find themselves looking at those Tommy lyrics with narrowed eyes...
posted by apocalypse miaow on Jan 11, 2003 - 57 comments

Leonard Cohen

Let Me See Your Beauty Broken Down: Here's an illuminating song-by-song commentary of the work of Leonard Cohen, along with a slide-show of his "Closing Time" notebook; some dodgy drawings; a lot of grainy photos of the great man, and Pico Iyer's liner notes for the recently released Essential Songs. Yeah, right. As if anything he ever wrote or sang or said wasn't. [Cohen fans will forgive the shabby web design. Thank you woods lot for the heads-up.]
posted by MiguelCardoso on Dec 20, 2002 - 17 comments

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