The Streets of Laredo: The Cowboy's Lament
was originally written as the Irish drover balled Bard of Armaugh
), 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
(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 -
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.
- In case the other doesn't work]
posted by KevinSkomsvold
on Feb 23, 2005 -
Twelve STIs of Christmas
I can't decide if the lyrics are better than the animated men or not, but the twelve STIs of christmas is possibly the best public health propoganda I've ever seen. [Flash][SFW. Probably][And technically double post, but it's a great one. And it's christmas.]
posted by twine42
on Dec 20, 2004 -
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 -
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 -
- Test your knowledge of memorable lines from various hits of the 80's. Watch your spelling. warning: It's a tad cheesy, but fun.
posted by Witty
on Nov 14, 2003 -
The Song Is You:
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
objects I'd be willing to part with: they're the mother's milk of
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 -
Avast, ye scurvy dogs, wi' a good wind, we'll have naught to do but sing
'til we strike land again!
posted by headspace
on Sep 19, 2003 -
Radiohead fan sites have been asked to remove their lyrics and tabs archives.
Yesterday, two popular Radiohead fan sites, Green Plastic
and At Ease
, were sent this email
by a legal representative of Warner Bros. Publications and Warner/Chappell Music asking them to take down any lyrics and tabs from their site. The letter claimed "their distribution constitutes an infringement of our rights under U.S. Copyright Law. More than that, the availability of these files have a direct impact on our ability to market and sell our musical arrangements and songbooks, and that adversely affects the royalties that we are able to generate and pay to the band." Those opposed have started a petition online
. Who's right on this one?
posted by josephtate
on Jun 3, 2003 -
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 -
"Cops of the World": remembering Phil Ochs
Ochs lyrics: “We're hairy and horny and ready to shack. We don't care if you're yellow or black. Just take off your clothes and lie down on your back.'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys. We're the Cops of the World.”------------ LISTEN to his songs
Amidst the unilateralist
talk of invading Iraq, and the (mostly media ignored) “biggest anti-war protests since the Vietnam War”
[quote-Wash.Post,Oct. 27] last saturday, I thought of Phil Ochs.
.....some of his songs [see Ochs lyrics index
] haven't aged well
, but some are still as searingly acidic
as the day he wrote them, as above or in ”Love me, I’m a liberal”
:“Once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin...But I've grown older and wiser, and that's why I'm turning you in. So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal.” ------- Phil Ochs ------- (born 1940, suicide 1976)
posted by troutfishing
on Oct 29, 2002 -
Mars Austrailia creates fake band and single to advertise Starbursts.
It is the latest marketing idea: create a fictitious group named after your brand and release a cheesy song that gets radio airplay and is sold as a music single to teenagers. The song is Get Your Juices Going
, by fictional pop group Starburst. It has secured high-rotation airplay on radio station Nova 96.9 and has had its promotional video featured on Video Hits. The song's lyrics were written by copywriters and the video, in which the group's identity is hidden, was created by television commercial producers. Not once, however, is the pop group linked to Mars.
posted by ncurley
on Sep 17, 2002 -
The Ballad of "John Walker's Blues"
Not long after Lindh pleaded guilty to aiding the former Afghan regime, maverick country-blues musician Steve Earle
released a controversial ballad, "John Walker's Blues," that has infuriated the American heartland with lyrics like:
We came to fight the jihad, our hearts were pure and strong/We filled the air with our prayers and we prayed for our martyrdom/Allah has some other plans, a secret not revealed/Now they're dragging me back with my head in the sack to the land of the infidel.
posted by laz-e-boy
on Jul 22, 2002 -
John B Spencer
died in March. He was 57 though the first time I saw him in about 1986 he looked about 86 so his early demise isn't that much of a surprise.
No one will have heard of him but he was brilliant. Truly brilliant, in that he lit up all around him and inspired the pathetic likes of me. Read his lyrics, hear his albums and just sit and wonder at the genius of the public to ignore such talent. Sorry, my blog doesn't appear to be publishing and I didn't want his death to go unremarked.
Google doesn't offer much but this is good enough.
posted by Fat Buddha
on Jul 12, 2002 -
"Strike the heart, enjoy the florist, fa la la la la
la la la la" AmIRight
collates all of those misheard song lyrics and goes a step further, organizing them by band
, or decade
. Plus for the truly band-curious, they have archives of cool and stupid band names
, song parodies and commentary on lyrics that people think are repetitive, nonsensical, or just insincere
. Sometimes it's tough to tell the wrong lyrics from the right ones... "You strut your rasta wear and your suicide poem" real or misheard
posted by jessamyn
on May 25, 2002 -
Some people claim they never listen to the lyrics, while others listen intently. As they listen to lyrics, some words may be incoherent or misunderstood. Other listeners may not care to know what the words really mean or how they may impact society. Regardless, lyrics are important. They provide expression, communication, and entertainment. They are messages with the potential to be very powerful, and therefore, useful in making points in our daily discourse.
posted by Tarrama
on Jan 25, 2002 -
How lyrics work,
offered up by one of my favorite singers and songwriters. No, you won't learn who she was really singing about in "You're So Vain" but it's still a fascinating read about a topic she knows a thing or two about.
posted by MAYORBOB
on Nov 4, 2001 -
All my life, people have been studying the hidden (sometimes very well hidden) profundities of pop-music lyrics. You know, however, that 99.99% of it is mundane and not worth studying. Wrong!
posted by luser
on May 9, 2001 -