Monday, 16 December 2013

Top Ten Sureallist AAA Song Lyrics (News, Views and Music 223)





Somebody asked me the other day why I only print some of the lyrics to each of my album reviews at the top of the page, rather than including the whole lot. There are a few reasons for this: one is that I don't to step on any of the toes of the fine lyric sites that are already out there (take a bow A-Z lyrics, Metro Lyrics and Sing 365 Lyrics, who have been invaluable on the few occasions an AAA album wasn't released with a lyric sheet - and if none of those three sites cover my song then I know I'm in trouble!) Another is copyright issues: as a reviewer I'm allowed to reprint around 20% of a lyric for the purposes of making a review. A third is space: yes, you did read that right, despite the fact that a lot of these articles seem to go on forever I don't want to push my luck by delaying you lot from reading the main review any more than I have to. So why quote from the lyrics at all then? Well, I like to give the 'first word' in any review to the people who wrote the album and by taking what I feel are 'key quotes' to ruminate over during the review readers might get a better sense what the heck I'm on about half the time. To quote from them verbatim would be boring, but to not quote from them at all would result in me trying to impose my opinions on an album without letting readers come to their own opinions first (even if you don't own any of the albums I review, hopefully you'll still get a 'flavour' from the lyrics I choose to quote from). Now, I don't think for one moment that all of you read every single quote religiously - most of you will know them well enough from the albums anyway - but it's there for anyone who wants it. Occasionally, though, there are some lyrics that are so downright weird, wacky and wonderful they deserve to be printed in full, so for this week I've chosen ten of my favourite did-they-really-just-say-that? lyrics and our potshot at what they might be on about. There are no real rules this week, only that I've stuck with just the one entry per artist (otherwise this list would just be full of 10cc and Syd Barratt songs!) By all means feel free to leave your own suggestions for strangest AAA song lyrics in our comments page, but remember 'I Am The Walrus' makes perfect sense in the interpretation we gave it in our review so I won't be accepting that one! ('Dig A Pony', however, is fair game). Oh and incidentally my favourite AAA opening lyric of all is still Cat Stevens' "100 I Dream": "They brang us up with horns and Hollywooden songs..." (what does that line mean?!)

1) Pink Floyd "Bike" (Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)

"I've got a bike. You can ride it if you like.
It's got a basket, a bell that rings and
Things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it.
You're the kind of girl that fits in with my world.
I'll give you anything, everything if you want things.
I've got a cloak. It's a bit of a joke.
There's a tear up the front. It's red and black.
I've had it for months.
If you think it could look good, then I guess it should.
You're the kind of girl that fits in with my world.
I'll give you anything, everything if you want things.
I know a mouse, and he hasn't got a house.
I don't know why. I call him Gerald.
He's getting rather old, but he's a good mouse.
You're the kind of girl that fits in with my world.
I'll give you anything, everything if you want things.
I've got a clan of gingerbread men.
Here a man, there a man, lots of gingerbread men.
Take a couple if you wish. They're on the dish.
You're the kind of girl that fits in with my world.
I'll give you anything, everything if you want things.
I know a room of musical tunes.
Some rhyme, some ching. Most of them are clockwork.
Let's go into the other room and make them work"


I have seen some hilarious discussions of this song down the years - including my own no doubt! For some Syd Barratt is writing about his childhood here, to others his bicycle means 'freedom', an escape from problems at home, a few see 'Bike' as a dismissive sneer against the material world that only buys people 'things' and for others it's a sign of how mentally unstable he was even in his annalus mirabilus of 1967. As far as I'm concerned, this is Syd having fun, wanting to write something so totally outrageous and yet charming it even dispenses with a rhyming scheme and a rhythm ('Don't know why I call him Gerald!' is a line that comes completely out the blue when you first hear this song!) The ending - which loses a little something on the page but sounds tremendous on record - really is a room full of clockwork toys all chiming at once!

2) Jefferson Airplane "The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil" (After Bathing At Baxters, 1967)

"If you were a bird and you lived very high,
You'd lean on the wind when the breeze came by,
You'd say to the wind as it took you away,
That's where I wanted to go today"
And I do know that I need to have you around
Love like a mountain springtime,
flashing through the rivers of my mind;
it's what I feel for you.
Amardil-il-il-o-o-o
Armadillo

You and me go walking south
And we see all the world around us,
The colours blind my eyes and my mind to all but you,
And I do know that I need to have you around,
And I do, I do know that I need to have you around.
I have a house where I can go
When there's too many people around me;
I can sit and watch all the people
Down below goin' by me;

Halfway down the stair is a stair
Where I sit and think around you and me;
But I wonder will the sun still see all the people goin' by.
Will the moon still hang in the sky when I die,
When I die, when I'm high, when I die?
If you were a cloud and you sailed up there,
You'd sail on water as blue as air,
You'd see me here in the fields and say,
"Doesn't the sky look green today?"


For my money the most psychedelic album I've ever heard is the Jefferson's third LP 'After Bathing At Baxters', even if it only just made the year of 1967 by a few weeks. Opening track 'Pooneil' sets out it's stall from the first, opening with a full minute of pounding, pulsating feedback before Paul Kantner's lyrics turn the whole world on it's head. Suddenly the skies are green, minds turn into rivers and the world is full of armadillos, with the strange title derived from one of Kantner's favourites AA Milne ('Pooneil' is a mixture of Winnie the Pooh and folk singer Freddy Neil: add in Lewis Carroll and a bucketload of LSD and you'll get a fair idea where this album is coming from with those influences). Taking in the illusions of the world, death, drug highs and loneliness, this is a tour de force that more than deserves to be read in full.

3) Simon and Garfunkel "Bookends" (1968)

"Wish I was a Kellogg's Cornflake
Floatin' in my bowl takin' movies,
Relaxin' awhile, livin' in style,
Talkin' to a raisin who 'casion'ly plays L.A.,
Casually glancing at his toupee.

Wish I was an English muffin
'Bout to make the most out of a toaster.
I'd ease myself down,
Comin' up brown.
I prefer boysenberry
More than any ordinary jam.
I'm a "Citizens for Boysenberry Jam" fan.

Ah, South California.

If I become a first lieutenant
Would you put my photo on your piano?
To Mary Jane--
Best wishes, Martin.
Old Roger draft-dodger
Leavin' by the basement door,
Everybody knows when he's
Tippy-toeing down that floor"

Paul Simon's slab of whimsy was deliberately written to lighten the load of fourth Simon and Garfunkel LP 'Bookends', a record about the aging process and death. 'Punky's Dilemma' is the single silliest thing Paul ever wrote, clearly fulfilling the role of 'Feelin' Groovy' from the previous album, and was inspired by the tune of a Kellogg's Cornflakes commercial (which the band used to 'accidentally' end up in during live performances). No one seems to have any idea who the real 'Punky' was (including his author), but keep an eye out for the last verse where Paul can't resist getting in a dig at the Vietnam war and draft dodgers...

4) The Small Faces "The Hungry Intruder" (Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" 1968)

"Here am I
Tiny Fly
May I share your Shepherd's Pie?
What is this strange voice I hear?

Here I am
Look This Way
In the landscape on your tray

There's no need to ask a silly question
If I were you I hope you'd do the same
There's no doubt I'd help a hungry fly
To see you in a fix it's really such a shame

I'm so hungry
I could die
And now I'll a living fly

My name is Stan
I'm on a quest
Take your fill,
Take nothing less

I am that
That am I
And now I'll be a living fly"


If you don't know the album then I bet this one's got you puzzled! The second side of 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake' is a spoof concept album about 'Happiness Stan' on a 'quest' to find out why the moon has disappeared (Note the references to the moon disappearing in 'You and Me and Pooneil' above - was this an influence?!) Naturally Stan's friend in this quest is a humble fly who asks him to share his food in this song, resulting in a set of lyrics that out of context much surely make for one of the strangest songs ever written!

5) The Beatles "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" ('The White Album', 1968)

"She's not a girl who misses much
Do-do-do-do-do, oh yeah

She's well acquainted
With the touch of a velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane

Man in the crowd
With the multicoloured mirrors
On his hobnail boots

Lying with his eyes
While his hands are busy
Working overtime

The soap impression of his wife
Which he ate and donated
to the National Trust

I need a fix cause I'm going down
Down to the bits that I've left up town
I need a fix cause I'm going down

Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun

Happiness is a warm gun
( bang bang shoot shoot )
Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is
(bang bang shoot shoot)

When I hold you in my arms (oh yes)
When I feel my finger on your trigger (oh yes)
I know nobody can do me no harm
Because
happiness is a warm gun, momma
Happiness is a warm gun
-Yes it is.
Happiness is a warm, yes it is...
Gun!
Well don't ya know that happiness is a warm, yes it is, gun!"


Lennon spent the second half of the Beatles' career being influenced by Yoko Ono's take on life - that anything can be art and that art doesn't necessarily have to make sense. Starting with 'I Am The Walrus' and ending up via 'Hey Bulldog' through 'Dig A Pony', many of Lennon's more successful songs are about how life is a nonsense and admitting it can set you free. 'Happiness' is arguably the weirdest. A free association game of wordplay, it's the closest Lennon ever came to getting his 'In His Own Write' punning wordplay and wit into a song lyric. The likeliest interpretation is that this is a love song to Yoko (who was nicknamed 'Mother' and occasionally 'Mother Superior' by Lennon, who really saw her as a replacement for his own mother Julia), written using her own love of wordplay. 'She's not a girl who misses much' may well be Lennon's single best tribute to his main muse, while Brian Epstein's assistant Alistair Taylor remembers word associating with Lennon for the last verse, taking pictures out of magazines at random. The man with 'multi-coloured mirrors' was real. for instance, and was fined for using them to look up girls' skirts as they passed by. The title phrase, however - that may refer to drugs or sex or both as well as violence - was inspired by a gun magazine that George Martin casually brought into a Beatles session one day, to the horror of Lennon (who like the other Beatles had just been lectured in India about the sacredness of life); legend has it the session was 'All You Need Is Love' which would make the event stick doubly in his mind. For an interpretation of the 'soap impression of his wife' lyric, though, you're on your own!

6) Grateful Dead "China Cat Sunflower" (Aoxomoxoa, 1969)

"Look for a while at the china cat sunflower,
Proud walking jingle in the midnight sun.
Copperdome bodhi drip a silver kimono,
Like a crazy quilt stargown through a dream night wind.

Crazy cat peekin through a lace bandanna,
Like a one-eyed cheshire, like a diamond-eye jack.
A leaf of all colours plays a golden-string fiddle,
To a double-e waterfall over my back.

Comic book colours on a violin river crying leonardo,
Words from out a silk trombone.
I rang a silent bell, beneath a shower of pearls,
In the eagle-winged palace of the queen chinee"


Oh the look on people's faces when they try to tackle this 12/8 time song on the game RockBand and end up falling prey to Jerry Garcia's horrifically complex time signature and Bob Hunter's wildest set of lyrics (and boy he wrote a few of these - I nearly included 'What's Become Of The Baby' from the same album, but that's too disturbing even for me!) 'China Cat Sunflower' is a real cat who has many colourful adventures (my guess is he's from the same litter as Pink Floyd's 'Lucifer Sam') before settling back to his quiet existence on earth. Absolutely bonkers. Beautiful poetry too of course (Hunter never wrote a bad lyric in his life), but still bonkers.

7) 10cc "I Wanna Rule The World!!!" (How Dare You!, 1976)

"I wanna be a boss
I wanna be a big boss
I wanna boss the world around
I wanna be the biggest boss
that ever bossed the world around

I wanna do it right
I wanna do it right away
I wanna do it right now
I wanna do it right away
I wanna do it now

Don't wanna be a dancer in the Bolshoi Ballet
Don't want to work for Daddy
In Daddy's shop, 0.K.

I get confused, so confused
I get a pain, I get a pain up here
In the Shirley Temples

What you gonna do
How you gonna do it
What you gonna do
How you gonna do it

Little by little, ooh ooh
Little by little, bit by bit

Sssh! Not too loud, don't tell everybody
Don't give away the game
Oooh, oooh,
I aint quite ready to reveal my campaign

This is not the time
My hero's are alive and well in a cave
I'm keeping them on ice in suspended animation
Till the very right occasion comes along

To our rally come along
Come along to our rally
Come along to our rally come along

To our rally come along
Come along to our rally
Come along to our rally come along

A Brave new world will rise from the ashes
And there upon a rock titanic, I'll cast a giant
Shadow on the face of the deep
And never again will they dare to call me
A freckled, spotty, specky, four eyed
Weedy little creep!

No more tremblin' and quakin' in the gym
No more come on fellas, let's get him

What you gonna do
How you gonna do it
What you gonna do
How you gonna do it

Little by little, ooh, ooh
Little by little, bit by bit
Little by little, ooh, ooh
Little by little, bit by bit
bit by bit
bit by bit

Everyone's going to be free
But they'll have to agree to be free
They'll have to agree to be less free than me
'Cos I rule the world you see

So wait for the army of kiddy-winkies
And terrible tiny tots
In armoured school buses
Firing poison pea-shooters
And sinking their milk teeth into your thighs
Delapsus resurgam! when I fall I shall rise!

Wanna be a boss
I wanna be a big boss
I wanna boss the world around
I wanna be the biggest boss
that ever bossed the world around"


10cc revel in a glorious absurdist anarchic sense of humour. It happens to be one I share, as anyone whose seen any of our AAA Youtube videos will surely agree to! As a result there are several strange 10cc lyrics doing the rounds, from prostitutes exercising in Paris, to a drowning air passenger saved by a flight attendant to a dance based on having a bad sacro-iliac. However, I've plumped for this one, from the band's last album with the Godley and Creme line-up, which pushes the song as far as it will go. A nerdy weak nobody plots to overthrow the world and rule over it, which mixes Latin, nursery rhymes, James Bond and Regency Theatre to great effect. Believe me, it's even weirder when you hear it!


8) Neil Young "Will To Love" (American Stars 'n' Bars, 1977)

"It has often been my dream
To live with one
who wasn't there
Like an ocean fish
who swam upstream
Through nets,
by hooks, and hungry bears.

When the water grew less deep
My fins were aching
from the strain
I'm swimming in my sleep
I know I can't go back again.

Got the will to love,
the will to love.
I'll never lose it,
never lose the will to love,
Never lose the will.
It's like
something from up above.

I can be like
a fire in the night
Always warm
and giving off light
But there comes a time
when I shine too bright
Oh, I'm just a fire in the night.

And now my fins are in the air
And my belly's
scraping on the rocks
I still think
someone really cares
And I'll keep swimming
till I stop.

Got the will to love,
the will to love.
I'll never lose it,
never lose the will to love,
Never lose the will.
It's like
something from up above.

I'm like a singer on the stage
With the golden lights
and liquid rage
Down from the mountains
to the sea
Cool running love
keeps cleansing me.

It keeps my gills
from getting dry
But it distorts things
in my eyes
Sometimes I see
what really isn't there
Like my true lover, and I care.

Got the will to love,
the will to love.
I'll never lose it,
never lose the will to love,
Never lose the will.
It's like
something from up above.

Sometimes I ramble on and on
And I repeat myself
till all my friends are gone
And get lost in snow
and drown in rain
And never feel the same again.

I remember the ocean
from where I came
Just one of millions all the same
But somewhere
someone calls my name
I'm a harpoon dodger,
and I can't, won't be tamed.

Got the will to love,
the will to love.
I'll never lose it,
never lose the will to love,
Never lose the will.
It's like
something from up above.

Baby, if I see boredom
in your eyes
I'll know my river has run dry
But I won't turn back
with that lonely tide
I bought that ticket
and I'll take that ride.

If we meet along the way
Please sway beside me,
let us sway together
Our tails together
and our fins and mind
We'll leave this water
and let our scales shine
In the sun above
and the sky below
So all the water
and earth will know

It has often been my dream
To live with one
who wasn't there"


Equally Neil Young's been known for some weird (or, if you're kind, 'Dylanesque') lyrics down the years. Check out 'The Old Homestead' and 'Lost In Space' for other, even weirder lyrics, while I was almost tempted to go for the minimalist lyric 'Got mashed Potato, ain't got no T-Bone!' (literally, that's all the lyric there is, for a full eight minutes). However, I've gone for 'Will TO Love', which sounds on first listen as if it's quite a straightforward song - until you realise that Neil is inhabiting the soul of a fish. Using a fish's hazardous journey as a metaphor for love enables Neil to really get into the feeling of a 'salmon fishing upstream', but far from being simply a wacky lyric there's a real heart to this one, taking in very real human feelings of loneliness, anguish and heartbreak along the way.

9) The Beach Boys "Johnny Carson" (Beach Boys Love You, 1977)

"He sits behind his microphone
John-ny Car-son
He speaks in such a manly tone
John-ny Car-son

Ed McMahon comes on and says "Here's Johhny"
Every night at eleven thirty he's so funny
It's (nice) to (have) you (on) the (show) tonight
I've seen (your) act (in) Vegas out of sight

When guests are boring he fills up the slack
John-ny Car-son
The network makes him break his back
John-ny Car-son

Ed McMahon comes on and says "Here's Johnny"
Every night at eleven thirty he's so funny
Don't (you) think (he's) such (a) natural guy
The (way) he's (kept) it (up) could make you cry

Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's the man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire"


I guess compared to the other entries on this list 'Johnny Carson' is a fairly normal song lyric. There are no references to armadillos, green skies, lizards on windowpanes, china cat sunflowers, taking over the world or Kellogg's cornflakes for a start and we do at least know that Johnny Carson is a real person. However, why anyone should want to write a whole song about a minor TV chat-show host is another matter. Brian Wilson's always had the ability to write about what's happening in his everyday life (even if he's 'busy doin' nothin' as on one memorable song), but sad to say the biggest thing in life circa 1977 was his daily ritual of sitting down to watch the Johnny Carson show. Incidentally, 'The Beach Boys Love You' might well win the award for 'whole AAA album with weirdest lyrics' what with its other songs about airplanes, rollerskating children, solar systems bringing us wisdom, honking down the gosh darn highway and a song that repeats 'Ding, Dang' over and over!

10) Paul McCartney "Party" (Run Devil Run, 1999)

"Some people like to rock, some people like to roll,
but moving and a grooving gonna satisfy my soul.
Let's have party, let's have party, send it to the store,
let's buy some more, let's have party tonight.

I've never kissed a bear, I've never kissed a goon,
but I can shake a chicken in the middle of the room.
Let's have party, let's have party, send it to the store,
let's buy some more, let's have party tonight.

Now, honky-tonky Joe is knocking at the door,
bring him in and fill him up and set him on the floor.
Let's have party, yeah, let's have party, send it to the store,
let's buy some more, let's have party tonight.
Party, party, well, I feel it in my leg, feel it in my shoe,
tell me, pretty baby if you think you feel it too.
Let's have party, let's have party,
oh, I'm gonna send it to the store, let's buy some more,
let's have party tonight.

Some people like to rock, some people like to roll,
but moving and a grooving gonna satisfy my soul.
Let's have party, let's have party, send it to the store,
let's buy some more, let's have party tonight.
We're gonna send it to the store, let's buy some more, have party tonight.

Oh yeah, we're gonna have ourselves a little party, yeah, yeah, tonight.
I'm not giving in, man, I'm gonna have a party, yeah.
Party, party, yeah, I'm not going home yet,
send it to the store, let's buy some more, we're gonna have a party tonight.

Some people like to rock, people like to roll,
but moving and a grooving gonna satisfy my soul, let's have a party
I'm not giving up....
I'm going to keep it going!....
Some people like to rock, some people like to roll,
but moving and a grooving gonna satisfy my soul....
Till the year 1999
Till the year 2000
Till the year 3000...."


OK, I'll be honest, most of this cover song (it was written by Jessie Mae Robinson and covered by Elvis for the film 'Loving You') makes sense in a rock and roll wop-bop-a-loo-bop type way. The narrator's excited that he's having a party, after all, and there's not too much that's weird about that. However, check out the second verse which contains my favourite ever lyric 'I've never kissed a bear, I've never kissed a Goon, but I can shake a chicken in the middle of the room!' Rumour has it that when Macca came to record this album for his rock and roll covers album 'Run Devil Run' the whole band spent their ear to the record trying to decipher the lyric, inspiring a memory that Paul had of doing exactly the same aged 15 with his ear to his dad's turntable. Even the internet didn't help so they got in touch with the publishers who said that, as far as they officially knew, that was the genuine lyric - and the 'Goon' was indeed inspired by the Beatles' radio favourites 'The Goon Show' (so much so I'm surprised Lennon - an even bigger fan than McCartney - didn't cover this song himself for his 'Rock 'n' Roll' album!)
And that's that for now. Silly or sensible, creative or incomprehensible, we'll be back next week with more news, views and music!

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