Common song phrases

What song phrases do you hear over and over again in different songs? I’ll start a few:

“Take all my money, give it to another man.”

“Got thrown in jail had nobody to draw my bail”

“I love you”

“I woke up this morning.”

Strange - of these three- I’ve only heard the third; never the other two.

The lyrics won’t always be exactly the same word-for-word. Take all my money give it to another man was first introduced to me in “The Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin, which was heavily borrowed/influenced by many blues songs. I think I’ve heard it in newer songs too.

“Got thrown in jail…” I first heard in the soundtrack to “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, but that soundtrack of course was from the 1920s/30s era music including Jimmie Rodgers, but the same general phrase is heard in many older folk/country songs.

“Rather see you dead”, in different songs by The Beatles, Helmet, Mando Diao, and Woody Guthrie. Another old blues phrase it seems.

About 20 years ago some friends and I made a compilation of song snippets where they sang “down on your/my knees”, or some variation thereof. We had 63 of them.

Too many songs begin with “I was walking down the street.”
There are also certain obvious rhyme pairs that engender cliche, such as toys/girls and boys, which is so overused in Christmas songs. (And I know from my own compositions–I specialize in propaganda for the Free State Project–that I get sick to death of rhyming free/liberty/Don’t Tread on Me/Liberty Tree/life, liberty and property, etc.)

Good one. That phrase is often followed by a phrase including the word “please.”

Blues songs recycle a lot of lyrics:

  • Ain’t got a nickel, ain’t got a lousy dime

  • Gonna make a pallet on the floor

  • Found another mule kicking in my stall

“The dinosaur wet his underpants”

I can’t tell you how many songs I’ve heard that line in.


“Foolish pride.” Nobody in songs ever has justifiable pride, quiet pride, or overweening pride; it’s always foolish.

Anything that rhymes Magic with Tragic or Rambler with Gambler.


Ok, it’s not a phrase. But still.

I/you/we can’t stop XYZ

I/you/we can’t go on XYZ

Or dance with romance and take a chance

Or school with cool

Or reason with season

Or passion with fashion

Or miss with kiss

Also tired of keep on keepin’ on.

Do you remember the thread asking what English sounds to someone who doesn’t speak it?

A Doper provided a video (from 1972) that was gibberish that was put together by someone who didn’t speak it–but this is what Engish sounded like to them. One sound that kept popping up was “Oil Riii”

Based on what the language sounds like to the remainder of the world who doesn’t speak it I’ll vote for “All Right!”

I’ve often wanted to undertake the task of compiling all the songs of the 50s…R&B and doo-wop in particular…that use the couplet “I love you so/I’ll never let you go.” There’s got to be hundreds of them.

I find this strange, if only because until I recently heard these recent songs, I’d never encountered this imagery:

“I might fall like a rock from your heart”

  • White Lies, E.S.T. 2009

“You’ll find a stone in your heart”

  • The Gutter Twins, Each To Each 2008

Here are a couple of quintessential examples of the phenomenon: