Song Lyrics With errors and/or Impossible Statements

What are some song lyrics that make a statement that is either wrong or impossible?

My pet examples:

Metallica, Of Wolf And Man - Contains the lyric “It’s later than you realize”. What? How can it be later than you realize? It can be later than you think it is, but once you realize something, it’s correct.

Marillion, White Russian - In this song, a lot of lyrics indicate the singer is Jewish (“we have six million reasons”, etc). Except that the studio version contains the line “We buy fresh bacon from the corner store”. The band must have realized this didn’t make sense, since the live version changes it to “We buy fresh bagels from the corner store”.

The Doors, Five To One - “Five to one, baby - one in five”. Jim Morrison, go directly to remedial math class. Five to one = one in six.

You’re hearing things. It was always “bagels,” and is printed as such on the lyric sheet of the original album.

Interesting! Now I have to go home and check out my copy. Will report back tomorrow.

There was a shitty hair band back in the day called MSG, and they did this power ballad “When I’m Gone,” which contained the line “Your clothes are hanging on the floor.”

It used to grate on me terribly, especially since there are a number of words that they could have used that actually made sense.

Sheryl Crow’s *Good is Good *always irritated me:

“And every time you hear the rolling thunder
You turn around before the lightning strikes”

In my experience, lightning generally comes first. There are probably just different laws of physics where Sheryl lives or something.

I didn’t realize that bothered you. Of course, if you actually looked up the word in a dictionary, you’d notice:

re·al·ize   [ree-uh-lahyz] Show IPA verb,-ized, -iz·ing.
–verb (used with object)

  1. to grasp or understand clearly.

How is that incorrect? “It’s later than you understand clearly” makes perfect sense. They didn’t understand clearly how late it was.

There should be a rule that requires that when people call the use of a word “incorrect,” they look it up in a dictionary first.

I won’t even go into the concept of “poetic license,” since I know from experience no one understands it any more.

U2’s Pride, about MLK.

Early morning, April 4th
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky

MLK was killed in early evening. Sometimes Bono corrects this when the song is performed live.

Johnny Cash’s “When The Man Comes Around” from “American IV” has a line that just drives me nuts:

“Then the father hen will call his chickens home.”

Umm, Johnny, hens are generally female. I think the word you are looking for is “rooster”.

Every time I hear this line I start thinking of the Seinfeld episode where George’s parents have dinner with Susan’s parents, and Frank Costanza starts going off on chickens, roosters and hens, and who is having sex with who.

Not really. If they’re wrong, and the time is later than they think, then they do not in fact understand clearly what time it is. Believing you know is not the same as understanding clearly.

If simple errors count, I just listened to Rush’s “Red Barchetta” the other day and was annoyed all over again by Geddy Lee’s mispronunciation of the title.

“Nashville Cats” (Lovin’ Spoonful)

  • “…the record man said every one was a yellow Sun record from Nashville…” *
    Sun Records was in Memphis.

(John Sebastian has said that he was aware of the mistake he’d made, but liked the way it sounded and chose to leave it that way.)


This is more in the line of an “error” – grammatical in nature – but The Marshal Tucker Band’s “Heard It in a Love Song” has always bugged me.

In the last verse we hear:

Always something greener
On the other side of that hill
I was born a wrangler
And a rounder and
I guess I always will
I always will…what? There’s no antecedent for the verb here!

“It’s later than you understand clearly” is contradictory - if it’s later, then you clearly don’t understand what time it is.

be a wrangler and a rounder

The Clash, One More Time, an otherwise great song:

You don’t need no silicone
To calculate poverty

I forgive the double negative in the first line (common in rock ‘n’ roll), but it should be silicon (the element used in calculator/computer chips), not silicone (titty filler).

[Double post deleted.]

We don’t need no education. - Well, maybe a grammar lesson or two.

Sting’s “We Work the Black Seam”

Deadly for tweve thousand years
Is carbon 14

Carbon 14 would be present in smaller quantities in a coal mine than in our own bodies, since coal is y’know, old and stuff. Also the half-life of C14 is something under six thousand years.

Actually in that line he’s talking about nuclear power, since the main theme of the song is that the proliferation of nuclear power plants is putting the coal miners out of work.

The full verse:

Hypnotized by Fleetwood Mac always gets on my nerves because instead of saying “got me hypnotized” they say “got me hypmotized” (or at least it sounds that way).

‘He said they let me out of prison down in Frisco
For ten long years I’ve paid for what I’ve done’

From ‘Give my Love to Rose’, lyrics by Johnny Cash.

Link: Give My Love To Rose Lyrics by Johnny Cash

There is no prison in San Francisco; the closest one is Alcatraz which closed in 1963.

There are 3 state prisons in the area:

San Quentin in Marin County (called Quentin or Q)

Correctional Traning Facility in Soledad in Monterey County (often called Soledad)

Folsom State Prison in Sacramento County (called Folsom, actually JC sang there one time).

…but the song sez ‘Frisco’

I even went so far as to investigate Fresco, Texas but…no prison there that I can discover.

Could be that the song was written before 1963 as Cash was singing then, but I can discover no historical info on the song.

I guess it’s called poetic license. :wink: