Pop songs with unusual (or unique) words in the lyrics

The new Billy Bragg song uses the word “autodidact”, which I’m gonna go out on a limb and say is the only use of the word in a popular music track (by some definition of popular music track).

Does the dope agree with me on this? What other examples of this are there? Assuming “scrabble rules” (no made up words, or proper nouns) what unique words have you found in pop music lyrics?

Since “pompatus” fails the scrabble rules test, how about “Told me love was too plebeian” from Cry Me a River.

Half the songs by Kinky Friedman.

“Homo Erectus” - australopithecine
“They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” - ethnocentric racist
“We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You” - Boruch atoh Adonoi


Our minister named her new-ish daughter Elenore, so of course I have to sing a snippet of the Turtles song to her.

Elenore, gee, I think you’re swell
And you really do me well
You’re my pride and joy, et cetera

Here’s a fun video, the falsettos at the end are worth the price of admission. So weird to see Howard Kaylan as a normal person… I’ve mostly seen him and Mark Volman as Flo & Eddie or with Frank Zappa (so cool that they got to be Mothers!).

In Steely Dan’s “Almost Gothic”, I thought the use of the word “isotope” was unique:

I’m so excited I can barely cope
I’m sizzling like an isotope


Only Warren Zevon could work Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Tamiami into a single song.

Warren Zevon:

I got a part-time job at my father’s carpet store,
Laying tackless stripping and housewives by the score.
I loaded up their furniture and took it to Spokane,
And auctioned off every last naugahyde divan.

The first Jens Lekman song I ever heard was “Postcard to Nina”, where he’s freaking out when a lesbian friend takes him to a dinner with her (German, very Catholic) father, and he finds out she told him that Lens was her serious boyfriend.

But Nina I can’t be your boyfriend,
so you can stay with your girlfriend.
Your father is emailing me all the time,
he says he just wants to say hi…
I send back Out-Of-Office Auto-Replies.

Ok, not a word but a phrase I was surprised to hear in a song… and a really nice one; someone did a cute animation of it.

Eve 6 - Inside Out

“I would swallow my pride
I would choke on the rinds
But the lack thereof would leave me empty inside”

23 years after its release and it still makes me laugh.

Honest question; is Spokane properly pronounced “spo kan”? I actually can’t remember if I’ve ever heard it said out loud. Either way, naugahyde is a good one!

I’ve only heard it on an Australian radio station’s audio stream and can’t remember the title but there’s a pop song which references Baby That-a-Way.

If for unusual we accept archaic, Tom Waits is a goldmine. In Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four
Sheets To The Wind In Copenhagen) he has the line “And my Stacys are soaking wet”, where I believe “Stacys” are his footwear.

In the song “November” Tom pens:

With my hair slicked back
With carrion shellac
With the blood from a pheasant
And the bone from a hare

Tied to the branches
Of a roebuck stag
Left to wave in the timber
Like a buck shot flag

The inimitable Kid Creole and the Coconuts, in their song, “Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy,” made a refrain out of the word “onomatopoeia.”

[quote=“WOOKINPANUBv.2, post:10, topic:951118”]
Either way, naugahyde is a good one![/quote]

There’s naugahyde in here, too.

The Monkees - Alternate Title

“The first word in this song is discorporate. It means to leave your body.” – Absolutely Free by Frank Zappa

Tom Waits in “Heart Attack And Vine”:

Boney’s high on china white, Shorty found a punk.

“Jockey Full Of Bourbon” has:

Stazybo horn and a Slingerland ride

“Singapore” has odd slang for sex:

While making feet for children shoes
(I’ll stop now, otherwise I could do this all day)

Donovan’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” mentions alizarin crimson which I always thought was probably a fairly rare showing of the word in a song.

According to a girl I met (and dated very briefly) who lived there, it was “spo kan.” I’ve seen that confirmed many times since then.

Tom Lehrer has many examples

Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!

(Especially unusual if you’re Jewish).

Universal bereavement -
An inspiring achievement!

When they see us coming
The birdies all try an’ hide
But they still go for peanuts
When coated with cyanide

There are enough lapsed Catholics in the rock and roll business for this not be the only use of this word (I can’t think of which song but I’d be surprised if The Hold Steady don’t mention it, its a pretty common theme in their stuff along with getting wasted).

Also the Raconteurs;