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Old 06-09-2019, 09:49 AM
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"Different Drum": Most clichés in a song ?


What is the world's record for highest density of idioms or clichés in a song or poem? I nominate Linda Ronstadt's hit song Different Drum. I show the first four stanzas below with clichés and idioms colored red. Can anyone top this?

Don't get me wrong. I actually love this song!
You and I travel to the beat of a different drum
Oh can't you tell by the way I run
Every time you make eyes at me

You cry and moan and say it will work out
But honey child I've got my doubts
You can't see the forest for the trees

Oh don't get me wrong
It's not that I knock it
It's just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me

Yes, and I ain't saying you ain't pretty
All I'm saying is I'm not ready
For any person place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:14 AM
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The thing that bugs me about that song is that, while Linda’s clearly ruling out the possibility of hooking up with the guy, she’s using a cliche that implies that they should be soulmates.

You and I don’t travel to the beat of A different drum; we travel to the beats of TWO different drums.
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:21 AM
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The song was written by Michael Nesmith, before he joined the Monkees. When you're talking about lyrics, name the writer, not the singer.

You might also note that it was written for a man to sing, and Ronstadt changed girl to boy but kept the other descriptors.
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:25 AM
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I’ve got a song that’s ALL cliches:

Golly, golly, oh my gosh
Golly, golly, my, oh my
Golly, golly, goodness sakes alive
Can you beat that?

Did you ever hear of such a thing?
Oh boy, that really takes the cake!
Well I never ever saw the likes of that!


Cite.
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
The song was written by Michael Nesmith, before he joined the Monkees. When you're talking about lyrics, name the writer, not the singer.

You might also note that it was written for a man to sing, and Ronstadt changed girl to boy but kept the other descriptors.
My objections stand.
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
The song was written by Michael Nesmith, before he joined the Monkees. When you're talking about lyrics, name the writer, not the singer.

You might also note that it was written for a man to sing, and Ronstadt changed girl to boy but kept the other descriptors.
she left in the "pretty" which is not normally said about men.
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:46 AM
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Hadn't heard Different Drum before.

Her singing is decent, but it sounds like the singer, the person playing the drums, and the person playing the harpsichord are all playing different songs in different styles and competing for attention. And the latter two don't even seem like they're trying to be musical so much as just trying to aggressively get your attention, whether you want to give it to them or not.

Not the most annoying song ever, but it's certainly going for the title.
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Old 06-09-2019, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
Hadn't heard Different Drum before.

Her singing is decent, but it sounds like the singer, the person playing the drums, and the person playing the harpsichord are all playing different songs in different styles and competing for attention. And the latter two don't even seem like they're trying to be musical so much as just trying to aggressively get your attention, whether you want to give it to them or not.

Not the most annoying song ever, but it's certainly going for the title.
Sorry you feel that way. I think it's a classic and one of the songs that most say "60s" to me.

I just listened to it again, and it holds up perfectly.
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Old 06-09-2019, 12:05 PM
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Joe South's "Rose Garden" contains the immortal line: "You better look before you leap, still waters run deep." And yes, he's a great songwriter (though that tune isn't one of my favorites of his.)
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Old 06-09-2019, 12:10 PM
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Sorry you feel that way. I think it's a classic and one of the songs that most say "60s" to me.
Just this. I didn't even know what all the lyrics were for a long time, and didn't care. This song is great folk rock.
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Old 06-09-2019, 01:18 PM
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Not even close. Look at "The Babbitt and the Bromide"
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Old 06-09-2019, 01:27 PM
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I remember reading a review of Billy Joel’s “Keeping the Faith” that said it was full of cliches...I guess there’s a few but I hardly think it’s “full” of them
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Old 06-09-2019, 01:34 PM
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I can’t point out all the cliches and aphorisms in Smash Mouth’s “All Star” without breaking board policy of not quoting lyrics too extensively, so here’s a link.

https://genius.com/Smash-mouth-all-star-lyrics
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Old 06-09-2019, 08:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
Hadn't heard Different Drum before.

Her singing is decent, but it sounds like the singer, the person playing the drums, and the person playing the harpsichord are all playing different songs in different styles and competing for attention. And the latter two don't even seem like they're trying to be musical so much as just trying to aggressively get your attention, whether you want to give it to them or not.

Not the most annoying song ever, but it's certainly going for the title.
Part of that may be because when Capitol records signed the Stone Poneys to a recording contract, they did it to get Linda Rondstadt and didn't give a damn about Bobby Kimmel or Kenny Edwards. Nick Venet, the group's producer, isolated Rondstadt's vocals, stripped Kimmel and Edwards off the track entirely, and used studio musicians.
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Old 06-09-2019, 11:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
What is the world's record for highest density of idioms or clichés in a song or poem? I nominate Linda Ronstadt's hit song Different Drum.
As long as "A Horse With No Name" exists, the record is safely high enough that songs like "Different Drum" are no threat.
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Old 06-10-2019, 02:03 AM
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Why not go back to WS Gilbert, who did it deliberately.
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Old 06-10-2019, 04:32 AM
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John Prine also did it intentionally in "It's a Big Old Goofy World".

Up in the morning
Work like a dog
Is better than sitting
Like a bump on a log
Mind all your manners
Be quiet as a mouse
Some day you'll own a home
That's as big as a house


Link to the rest of the cliches.


mmm
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Old 06-10-2019, 07:02 AM
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I loves that “Different Drum” song.

The first time I heard Springsteen’s “Dancing In the Dark” on the radio, I turned it off after the first chorus:
You can't start a fire, you can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire even if we're just dancing in the dark
It was just three trite phrases in a row that exhausted my patience in under 20 seconds.

However, it hooked in hard after the third hearing, and I loves that “Dancing In the Dark” song.
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Old 06-10-2019, 07:44 AM
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Half of the phrases highlighted in the OP aren't cliches or idioms, to my eye. They're just prose.

"Can't you tell by the way I run" - It doesn't make the most sense to me but it's not a cliche or idiom that I'm familiar with. How can "Can't you tell" be anything but basic English sentence structure?
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Old 06-10-2019, 07:58 AM
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I love that song. And several of those things aren't cliches but just regular ways of saying things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
while Linda’s clearly ruling out the possibility of hooking up with the guy, she’s using a cliche that implies that they should be soulmates.
I'm thinking you're misinterpreting the song. She's saying she isn't interested in an exclusive relationship.

"Hooking up" would definitely be on the table ("I ain't saying you ain't pretty") if she didn't suspect that he would want her to be monogamous ("I'm not in the market for a boy who wants to love only me").
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Last edited by Acsenray; 06-10-2019 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 06-10-2019, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Half of the phrases highlighted in the OP aren't cliches or idioms, to my eye. They're just prose.

"Can't you tell by the way I run" - It doesn't make the most sense to me but it's not a cliche or idiom that I'm familiar with. How can "Can't you tell" be anything but basic English sentence structure?
I agree. I was pretty confused by what the OP thought were cliches.

Anyway, the winner is Katy Perry's "Roar".
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Old 06-10-2019, 10:50 AM
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As long as "A Horse With No Name" exists, the record is safely high enough that songs like "Different Drum" are no threat.
That's a song full of phrases that no one in the history of the English language had ever put together. You might as well call "Come Together" full of cliches.
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Old 06-10-2019, 02:19 PM
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As long as "A Horse With No Name" exists...
My dad used to bust my chops (look! a confusing cliché, perfect for this post) about "Hippie Music". The point at which I realized that would include anything left of Lawrence Welk is when the song Horse With No Name came on the car radio. "You call that music? Damn kids. You can't honestly call that music!"

I remember thinking "Ok, there's no reasoning with this old fart." and "Thank god he's not listening to the lyrics. How would I defend 'There were plants and birds and rocks and things'?"...

Or 'The heat was hot'?

Last edited by digs; 06-10-2019 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 06-10-2019, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
I love that song. And several of those things aren't cliches but just regular ways of saying things.



I'm thinking you're misinterpreting the song. She's saying she isn't interested in an exclusive relationship.

"Hooking up" would definitely be on the table ("I ain't saying you ain't pretty") if she didn't suspect that he would want her to be monogamous ("I'm not in the market for a boy who wants to love only me").
I'm pretty sure they have 'hooked' up, now he wants to put a ring on it.
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Old 06-10-2019, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
Joe South's "Rose Garden" contains the immortal line: "You better look before you leap, still waters run deep." And yes, he's a great songwriter (though that tune isn't one of my favorites of his.)

You missed so many cliches in this one:
I never promised you a rose garden
There's got to be a little rain sometimes
Live and let live
etc.

I first heard this when I was a kid, so it's hard for me to say if some of the lines are cliches or came from the song, but I'm betting on the former.
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Old 06-10-2019, 05:12 PM
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I'm pretty sure they have 'hooked' up, now he wants to put a ring on it.
I don’t think that contradicts anything I said.
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Old 06-10-2019, 05:30 PM
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I'm pretty sure they have 'hooked' up, now he wants to put a ring on it.
Yeah. Part of the appeal of the Ronstadt version is that she is singing lyrics you'd expect from a male (due to those lyrics having been, as mentioned earlier, written by the male Mr. Nesmith). She's just not ready to settle down--she wants multiple partners. That's very transgressive conduct for a female (though very "sixties").

It's role-reversal. Always a reliable attention-getter in matters artistic.


As for clichés: it will be tough to find a winner. So many songs are deliberately built on clichés that there are probably too many contenders to choose from. Ask Dan Fogelberg:

Longer than ther've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
I've been in love with you

Last edited by Sherrerd; 06-10-2019 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 06-10-2019, 06:26 PM
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I don’t think that contradicts anything I said.
When you wrote 'on the table' i took that to mean a possibility, not that they did it on the table.
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Old 06-10-2019, 06:36 PM
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Quote:
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As for clichés: it will be tough to find a winner. So many songs are deliberately built on clichés that there are probably too many contenders to choose from. Ask Dan Fogelberg:

Longer than ther've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
I've been in love with you
SO disappointing that the guy who delivered two great albums later devolved into saccharine-tinged drivel like that.
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