"Odd" songs by seemingly "normal" artists

Now, I’m not talkin’ about groups like They Might Be Giants or Devo or soloists like Weird Al who make their living with screwy tunes. No, I’m talking about mainstream performers who “experiment”. They come up with a song that upon hearing it, you say, “What the hell were they thinking?” or, “No way. That isn’t (insert name here)”.

Some examples:

“Rapture” - Blondie. I didn’t believe it was them until I saw the album.

“Tusk” - Fleetwood Mac. Couldn’t understand the lyrics for the longest time. Lyndsey, you’re a nut, man!

Trans - Neil Young. I understand Neil likes to try new things, but it sounds like he’d listened to too much ELO (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Neil went to do an album of rockabilly music, but it doesn’t seem to be as odd.

“King Kong Song” & “My Mama Said” - ABBA. A song about a famous ape is weird even for them. The other has ABBA-like lyrics, but the music has an odd jazz feel to it.

What can you think of?

Is the opposite scenario allowed, as well? Cos the first time I heard the Velvet Underground’s ‘Sunday Morning’ I thought it was the Beatles; in fact WIOQ in Philadelphia, in the late 70s, used to kick off a show called ‘Breakfast with the Beatles’ with this song, and people would ring in all the time asking on which Beatles’ album could it be found…it’s a wee bit different than the other songs on The Velvet Underground and Nico which mum bought me on the strength of ‘Sunday Morning’ :eek:

“Temporary Secretary” by Paul McCartney. I totally dig this track, but it’s a schizophrenic attempt at experimental electronic music, with some of the oddest and most inane Paul McCartney lyrics: “She can be a neurosurgeon/if she’s doin’ nothing’ urgent…” It really is a train wreck of a song, but something about it makes it just endearing enough to like.

I used to do a radio show featuring this sort of thing. Some include:

Cream – “Mother’s Lament” (“Oh, your baby has gone down the plughole.”)

Procul Harum – “Mabel” (“Don’t eat green meat, it ain’t good for you./Killed your mother, killed your sister, too.”)

The Who – “Cobwebs and Strange” (instrumental) and “Boris the Spider”

Jefferson Airplane – “A Small Package of Value will Come to You, Shortly.” (“No man is an island. He’s a peninsula.”)

Do Covers Count? Prong does a cover of The Music Machine’s “Talk Talk”. Prong would be the last band on earth I’d expect to cover that nugget.

The funny thing is, as heavy as Prong is, the original version is still way more intense than Prong’s version.

The group “Bread” which was the embodiment of soft rock (like cotton wadding soft) actually did a true rock song and had a minor hit with it - “Let Your Love Go”. Granted, it is not some tear the plaster off the walls, “hope I die before I get old” type of anthem but it’s worth a listen just because it was a departure for Bread.

**Jerry Samuels ** wrote the song “Shelter of Your Arms” for Sammy Davis Jr. Jerry Samuels was also the Napoleon XIV who did "They’re Coming To Take Me Away Hah-hah !!

The Beatles - You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)

and pulykamell, if you think “Temporary Secretary” is strange, you should hear the whole other album of material that got cut from McCartney II. Some of those songs are so reviled among fans and critics that no one ever mentions them - except in a disparaging way. None of them would have helped his reputation.

Bizarre to say the least. The story more or less goes like this (I have the book it’s from, but can’t recall the title right off hand):

John: “Paul, I’ve got this idea for a song.”
Paul: “How’s it go?”
John: “You know my name, look up the number.”
Paul: “What are the lyrics?”
John: “That’s it.”
Paul: “Cool.”

It took two years (off and on) to record and sat on the shelf for a year before being released as the B-side of “Let It Be”.

John Denver’s first album has a very silly tune called “My Heart,” better known as “You Done Stomped on My Heart,” a very tongue-in-cheek country tune. (Sample lyric: “You just sorta/stomped on my aorta.”) I heard it years ago on the Dr. Demento show; the good Doc commented, “And it was all downhill from there.”

“Be The One” by Hootie and The Blowfish sounds nothing like any of their other songs. (at least on the first two cds. I haven’t been subjected to the others.)

In the truly weird-for-this-artist-catogory, I nominate Dishwalla’s untitled bonus track on Pet your friends and Incubus’s " Magic Medicine".

The Beach Boys had a few of these, like “She’s Goin’ Bald” or “I’m Bugged At My Old Man.” Oh, that wacky Brian!

The Beatles - The Inner Light

(But really, what’s normal about the Beatles?:D)

Or on the flip side, Enter Sandman - Pat Boone.

I think the award in this category goes to Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling”.

Cream’s first single, Wrapping Paper, also sounds nothing like they normally did.

Flanders - I mean, Pat Boone - did an entire album of metal songs, of which Enter Sandman is only one. So you could count all the songs on there, or you could say they’re all in character for that album… or something…

David Bowie’s first single. Forgotten the title, fortunately, but the song consists of an extended series of puns about gnomes. Musta been desperate.

And I’ve always thought the Stones’ early hit “Mother’s Little Helper” was out of keeping with the rest of their, er, oeuvre.

The Carpenters recorded a song whose title I can’t remember in which the first line is “Calling occupants of interplanetary craft”. Later in the song, the alien contributes a guest vocal.

Dr. Demento, purveyor of odd music, did a show a few months back featuring this exact topic. The title was “What were they thinking?” so I immediately thought about it when reading almost that exact phrase in the OP.

His playlist for that hour was as follows (including some of what has already been mentioned):

Where the wild roses grow by Nick Cave (makes perfect sense) and Kylie Minogue (previously known for such deep searching ballads as The Locomotion and I Should be So Lucky and that La La La thing since. A bit out of character.)

Perhaps you’re whooshing us - but,if not - the title of that song is Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft - originally done by my favorite Canadian group Klaatu.

Glad to see the two above mentioned.

If Dr. D was gonna go with a Pearl Jam song, he might as well have gone with “Last Kiss” – even if it was a big hit. “Last Kiss” fits the criteria quite well, IMHO.

Other songs along these lines:

Wayne Newton performs Collective Soul’s “December” in concert sometimes. I don’t know if he’s ever put it to CD, though.

In retrospect, Kiss’s “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” seems to me like a naked, out-of-place ode to the disco era.