proufound songs from bands that surprised you

I have to qualify this a bit, because when I first heard this song I was 17 or so, so I had no expecations, but now 40 years later it still resonates. If The Eagles were a new band playing “Take It Easy” and “Teqillla Sunrise” and all their early hits, I would have never expected a song like “The Last Resort”.

I’ll just quote a verse-
Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
Because there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here
We satisfy our endless needs and
Justify our bloody deeds
In the name of destiny
And in the name of God

The problem with this thread is that it’s a great question, but it’s really hard to think of examples. Just a couple of suggestions, one of which is really stretching the bounds of the OP.

First - Ian Dury. Thing is, yes he was a great lyricist, but if you only ever heard the singles they are so pleasingly catchy, his skills as a writer might pass you by. I give you: My Old Man, a wistful biography of his father.

My old man was fairly handsome
He smoked too many cigs
Lived in one room in Victoria
He was tidy in his digs
Had to have an operation
When his ulcer got too big
When his ulcer got too big
My old man

The song goes on to tell of a brief reconciliation before the Old Man died. And this sits, on the album New Boots And Panties in between Partial To Your Abracadabra (yes, that is a euphemism) and Billericay Dickie (the boastful Essex lothario tells his story).

A second thought - Stretching the OP - Tubthumping by Chumbawumba. Thing is, not profound, but for a poppy hit single it has a remarkably complex structure. Not exactly abacab. By a stretch.


Well, Chumbawamba are case and point. Their album, Tubthumping, was released on EMI Germany due to their previous record label, One Little Indian dumping them with a 40 grand studio bill to pay. So desperate times brought them to EMI, who, doing their job kicked out a highly marketable and successful record.

But it’s not them. Not their normal stuff. Their normal stuff is very profound and funny on the subject of life. Their one on the internet, Pass it along:

“Send this song to twenty people
Add your name, don’t break the cycle
Pass it along by word of mouse
Save the world, don’t leave the house
Because a virtual office in a virtual home
Means you’ll never have to drive through the wrong part of town”

And “Add me” destroys facebook:

“here’s a picture of me in my Nazi uniform
Doing a trick with an egg that I like to perform
At a monster truck rally that my Mum and me attend
Would you like to add me as a friend?”

I don’t know as how he qualifies as “a band”, but Neil Sedaka – he of “comma comma down doobie doo down down” fame – also sang The Immigrant’s Song.

(No, not a cover of the Zeppelin track; something else)

Black Sabbath went a little introspective with Changes

So did AxCx with the Love Picnic lp

Does Elvis doing some pretty serious socio-cultural analysis in In The Ghetto count?

Redgum were group of Adelaide uni students who performed mainly folksy bush ballards and a well left of centre political antiestablishment playlist If You Don’t Fight You Lose, One More Boring Night in Adelaide, Beaumont Rag etc . They were a very good live pub band. John Schumann ran for Federal parliament opposing the the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer (of London wine bar with George Papadopoulos fame) and nearly beat him.

Then in 1983 they released “I was only 19” about Vietnam. #1 in the local charts and became an anthem for the vets and returned soldiers in the arch conservative RSL.

AJR is a pop band that most people have probably never heard of. They recently came out with a song called “Dear Winter”, where the singer sings a song to his unborn daughter. A pop song that makes me go look up the lyrics gets at least a few profoundness points.

“Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith was a real departure at the time. Perhaps it was too obviously an effort at a “serious” track - and primarily the work of outside songwriters. Buts its tone and musical complexity stood out in comparison to a lot of hard rock of the time, and didn’t sound like anything else Aerosmith did.

I am not sure if its profound, but hearing the Bee Gee’s 1969 album “Odessa” was a surprise as its neither their 1960s bubble-gum sound, the adult contemporary sound that prevailed in most of their career, or their famous disco phase, but just a nice well-produced collection of baroque pop without Barry Gibb’s falsetto. Its not quite the Beatles, but its a great listen and has some haunting songs.

I knew Huey Lewis & The News for their catchy, fun pop songs about love and rock & roll. One day when I finally paid attention to the lyrics of “Walking on a Thin Line” I realized it’s about a traumatized combat veteran trying to reintegrate into a community that just wants to ignore him.

Similarly, The Monkees were a generally fun-loving group singing about love at first sight and how the young generation was all right. But “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (I know, lyrics by Carole King) is a scathing indictment of American consumerism. By the way, I don’t buy the idea that “Last Train to Clarksville” is an anti-war song. I think it’s just a nice song about leaving loved ones, and the anti-way thing was retrofitted to it later. Even if the lyricist was thinking about leaving to dodge the draft, that idea didn’t make it to the page, unless “Clarksville” was some kind of 60s code for fleeing the draft.

Van Halen - Mine All Mine. There’s an interview with Sammy Hagar out there where he talks about what a nerve-wracking experience it was for him to write and record.

Poison and their song Something to Believe in.

I guess maybe Queensryche’s Empire?

Good call. They also did the not-sure-if-it’s-profound-but-it’s-surprising New York Mining Disaster 1941. Which is also oddly haunting.

Fun trivia - this was the kicking off point for The Great 1974 Mining Disaster by Barclay James Harvest.


To the first sentence: I wish. For some reason they are one of the pop bands that has saturated alternative rock radio the past couple years, especially their song with Rivers Cuomo. That said, maybe I will go look up the “Dear Winter” lyrics. I’m sure I’ve heard that song a few hundred times but I pretty much tune it out.

I don’t know if it’s exactly profound, but the mention of these bands reminds me that much of Warrant’s material was closer to the single “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (meant to be the first single from the Cherry Pie album, charted at #78) while Janie Lane was known as “the Cherry Pie guy.”

Van Halen - Mean Street of the DLR era managed to be a rare non-booze/party/chicks song.

(BTW, you might want to get the title edited to “profound.”)

Status Quo mostly released not very serious 12-bar boogies, but their version of In the Army Now is probably the most well-known, and it’s pretty dark:

You’ll be the hero of the neighbourhood
Nobody knows that you’ve left for good
You’re in the army now
Oh, oh, you’re in the army now

Smiling faces as you wait to land
But once you get there no one gives a damn
You’re in the army now
Oh, oh, you’re in the army now

A couple by the Monkees…

Zor and Zam
Pleasant Valley Sunday

Fountains of Wayne, who everyone probably knows as the band who sang “Stacy’s Mom”, finished their career with the album Sky Full Of Holes, referring to the song “Cemetery Guns”, about a military funeral.

Wife claimed the miners in it were already dead, but she saw a lot of things that weren’t there. Then I started seeing them, too. I miss my hallucinations. :frowning: