Song Lyrics With errors and/or Impossible Statements

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung

Well, duh.

There’s a songwriter I like named Andrew Ratshin; through various groups and as a solo artist, he has written many songs about a guy named Doug. In Doug’s Greatest Christmas Ever, it’s explicitly said that Doug is Jewish. In Doug’s First Job, there is a reference to him eating bacon.

One of Ratshin’s songs also includes the following:

Maybe a lover comes along
Maybe in story or in song
Maybe the heart is really strong
A million lemmings can’t be wrong

I consider that one of my favorite lyrics of all time, despite the fact that lemmings do not actually hurl themselves off cliffs.

Still doesn’t work - C14 isn’t a waste product of nuclear power.

Not really impossible but in Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves has the line

*Picked up a man just south of Mobile *

There’s not really a lot south of Mobile. Yeah of course this isn’t impossible but it woud’ve been better to use another direction

In the song , The Night Chicago Died has the line

Daddy was a cop on the east side of Chicago

There is no east side of Chicago, except for Lake Michigan.

Of course the answer to this is, “There’s an east side to everything,” which is true and many years later they did rename part of Chicago as the “east side.”

But it would’ve been better to use another direction.

The old man must have been tough. Any old cop can walk a beat on land.

Not if he’s talking about God. Father hen always made sense to me in that context. God is calling all of his children home.

Not exactly an error, but just something funny that my brother pointed out to me once. In “Happy Together” by the Turtles:

The only one for me is you
And you for me

That’s the exact same statement, they just switched the order!

Straight Dope Pedantitis strikes again!

The way I read it it, “You don’t realize how late it is.” That is too say, you think you reaalize the time, but you’re mistaken.

Any song with a line about the dark side of the moon. I’m sure there are many.

Mobile is at the top end of Mobile Bay. There are a number of towns south of Mobile - Grand Bay, Bayou La Batre, Theodore, Tillman’s Corner and Dauphin Island.

Like I said…no antecedent. If you imagine parentheses after the word “will,” you have to fill those parentheses with something already present; e.g., “I miss you today, and I guess I always will.” This works because you can fill in the understood element with “miss you.”

But in this example, there’s no “be” to work with in the lead-up to this construction.

I realize (sorry!) that song lyrics can forgive a certain amount of grammatical license. But if a construction makes you pause and stumble as this one does, it’s lousy songwriting.

Then please go away.

Since Sting doubled the half-life in the song, it would seem that he knew that figure, but didn’t understand what half-lives are.

It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry,
The sun so hot I froze to death, Susannah don’t you cry . . .

Y’know, there is such thing as poetic license.

That’s the night that the lights went out in Georgia
That’s the night that they hung an innocent man

Wait, did they hang him or electrocute him? Anyway, Georgia didn’t use hanging as an execution method in that era. (Not to mention the grammatical error. It’s “hanged.”)


The Georgia Patrol was a-makin’ the rounds
So he fired a shot just to flag 'em down
And a big-bellied sheriff grabbed his gun and said
“Why’d you do it?”

Wait, was it the Georgia State Patrol (a state agency) or the sheriff (local law enforcement)? Make up your mind.

And that’s to say nothing of the arrest, trial and execution apparently taking place over the course of a single day-- in time to get the judge home for supper and too fast for the singer to confess.

Inconceivable! :smiley:

I was under the impression that phrase ‘‘the lights went out’’ is a reference to any miscarriage of justice.

The only one that comes to mind right now is not even a song I feel that strongly about, Travis Tritt’s ‘‘Best of Intentions.’’

I cringe every time he sings,

‘‘But my best laid plans
slipped right through my hands
To show my love for you’’

I don’t know what grammatical rule makes that wrong, but it’s wrong.

REM sings:
“…pining for the moon
and what if there were two
side by side in orbit
around the fairer sun”

Since when did the moon orbit the sun?

Paul Simon probably gets a pass due to his use of highly abstract phrases strung loosely together when forming songs. Still, every time I hear “I was born before my father, and my children before me,” I wonder what the hell he’s talking about. That whole song (“Señorita With a Necklace of Tears”) sounds like he just licked that frog.

Dude, he’s singing about boobies. Allow him a little license.

Not so much an error, just staggering hypocrisy:

“Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can”

This is the man with (at the time he wrote those lines) the hand-painted rolls royce, the mansion, the hand-made white grand piano, several herds of cattle in upstate New York, millions in the bank… and he’s fecking asking me if I can imagine no possessions? :mad: