The Tune Distorts the Lyrics

Sometimes, the integrity of a good tune turns out to be more important (to the songwriter, anyway) than hearing the words clearly.


From 1961: Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces” sounds like “I Fall, Toopy Says”. I don’t know who Toopy is. :slight_smile:

Moving to the 70s: ELO called their song “Strange Magic”, but the way the notes are accented turns it into a “Strange, Mad Jick” - again not sure what a Jick is.
Got any more? And, optionally, do you agree with the songwriter that a particular mangled lyric was worth it in return for maintaining the tune?

Tori Amos. Just about everything she did up until about a decade and a half ago had at least some singing that was [del]unintelligible[/del] shall we say, artistic.

I don’t know her music well at all - but you’re saying it was the tune doing it, not just her mumbling or shrieking or whatever, right?

After I bought an unreliable leaky Commando, I fully appreciated AC/DC’s song about* “Dirty Deeds Under Jeep”*

Does their tune (i.e. their songwriting skill) distort the words?

Stephen Malkmus could help you out with that.

It sounds to me as though the lyrics and the words are shaped into each other in many of her songs.


I Can’t See New York

Granted, those are kind of extreme examples. Some of her material is more conventional. She is a musician first and often uses her voice like another instrument that pulls the words along with it.

Then I get what you mean, and that’s exactly what I meant as well. Extreme examples? Why not? :slight_smile:

Thank you, yes, it appears he would know a thing or two about Jicks. :slight_smile:

The poster child for the category is the US national anthem. THUBbombs bursting in air and so forth. The lyrics were superimposed on an old drinking song. They don’t fit it very well. Hoozebrawd stripes and bright stars. UVVVthuh brave. Yeesh.

Exhibit A,
America, Horse with No Name
'Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

Rather than a mangled/garbled lyric forced to fit the metre they chose clearly spoken gibberish because it fitted the tune. I’ll pay it.

Katy Perry, “Unconditionally”

No native English speaker is normally going to pronounce that word “unCONdiTIONally” unless they’re deliberately trying to annoy the world. Well, me, anyway.

R.E.M.: The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight.

Official lyrics: call me when you try to wake her up
heard lyrics : commie try to wake up

Isn’t the way Patsy’s songs sound also partly influenced by her southern accent?

Arlo Guthrie had fun with it in The Motorcycle Song

I don’t want a pickle
I just want to ride my motorsickle
I don’t want a tickle
I just want to ride my motorsickle
I don’t want to die
I just want to ride my motorcy . . . cle
Compare Roaring Lion’s Ugly Woman with Jimmy Soul’s If You Wanna Be Happy

“sheep” by Pink Floyd might be a suitable example for this.

At this pointthe word “away” blends into a synth note (or whatever the hell it was those crazy kids were using). The same trick is repeated for the last word of each verse.

Good song, nice touch, I approve.

Anything with lyrics by Bernie Taupin.

And no, I’m not referring to Elton John’s deliberately mangled pronunciations. I’m referring to stuff like

I sat on the roof
and kicked off the moss, well, a few
Of the verses, well,
they’ve got me quite cross

It even starts out “Jose, can you see?”

“When the rain washes you clean you’ll know” -Fleetwood Mac

I’ve always been amused by Bono telling us that all he wants is Yoo-hoo.