Song Lyrics That Make Me Cringe


Some of these sound like nice songs, with pleasant melodies. But if you listen to the words, they are cringeworthy.

The first group of songs are about abuse.

I used to love to make you cry
It made me feel like a man inside
–Frankie Valli
(Nice doo-wop beat obscures the words.)

You better run for your life little girl
If I catch you with another man that’s the end
–John Lennon
(These are perhaps the worst lyrics in any song. Written by the same man who imagined all the people living life in peace.)

Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Came down upon her head.
Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Made sure that she was dead.
–Paul McCartney

Well, there’s a real square cat, he looks a 1974
Well, he looked at me once, he looked at me twice
Look at me again and there’s gonna be fight
–Stray Cats
(The video for this is even worse. They kick a guy to the ground just because he looks like a square, dressed like it’s 1974.)

I call the next category the “moon, june, spoon” category. These are songs with silly lyrics that were written just because they rhyme.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
–George Harrison
(That must have been a really dirty floor, to inspire a Beatles song!)

I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you
–George Harrison
(Couldn’t he have asked for a little help from his friends?)

Song she sang to me
Song she brang to me
Words that rang in me,
Rhyme that sprang from me
(This one is like fingernails on a chalk board.)
–Neil Diamond

She said it grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do
To make you smile again
(This one is the opposite. It doesn’t rhyme in American English, which is how is sings it. Plus it also has a grammar error.)
–Paul Simon

Some people like to intentionally modify lyrics of songs they cover. Their fans love it. I’m not one of those fans.

Better not pout, I’m telling you why
The fat man is coming to town.
–Mel Torme

And here’s to you Mrs. Robinson
Jilly loves you more than you will know
–Frank Sinatra

Occasionally someone will modify lyrics for the better. I like Tina Turner’s change to “The Bitch Is Back”
“I get high from speaking ‘bout the things I do” instead of Elton John’s original, “I get high in the evening sniffing pots of glue.”

The next group of songs make me cringe because of bad grammar. This is my favorite category.

Me and Susie had so much fun
–Elton John

If I was a sculptor but then again, no
–Elton John
(Rod Stewart recorded a cover version where he sang, “If I were a sculptor” in correct Queen’s English.)

You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
–The Doors

I wish I was Homeward bound
–Simon and Garfunkel

Nobody does it half as good as you
–Carly Simon

And finally, there are just some songs that are acoustically unlistenable. Yoko, I love you, but sorry, I can’t listen to your music.


One thought on “Song Lyrics That Make Me Cringe

  1. Great, great post, Steven! Allow me to add some of my pet peeves:

    More bad grammar:

    Jimi Hendrix “Castles Made of Sand”

    “And so castles made of sand, melts into the sea eventually”
    [ . . .]
    And so castles made of sand slips into the sea . . . Eventually.”

    The chorus is sung three times, and two out of the three times it’s the nails-on-the-chalkboard subject-verb disagreement.

    Another Doors effort (Jim Morrison was a somewhat talented poet, but had his clinkers):

    “Touch Me”

    “I’m gonna love you
    Till the heavens stop the rain
    I’m gonna love you
    Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I” (repeated too many times to count in a 3 minute, 11 second song)

    Cringeworthy, at least for me:

    I know it was a mega-hit, but “Jessie’s Girl”? Really?

    “You know I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
    I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
    Where can I find a woman like that?

    I play along with the charade
    That doesn’t seem to be a reason to change
    You know I feel so dirty when they start talking cute
    I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot

    ‘Cause she’s watching him with those eyes
    And she’s lovin’ him with that body, I just know it!
    And he’s holding her in his arms late, late at night”

    1. Dude, be happy for your best bud that he has a great gal–DON’T COVET!
    2. Creepy . . .
    3. Undercurrent of homoeroticism? (not that there’s anything wrong with that)
    4. Why don’t you just ask her if she has a sister, cousin, friend, or whatever whom she can fix you up with?

    Another category I call “Songs that sound that they should be played at a wedding reception, but really shouldn’t.”

    “Band of Gold”

    Great Motown arrangement–but . . .

    “You took me from the shelter of my mother
    I had never known or loved any other
    We kissed after taking vows
    But that night on our honeymoon,
    We stayed in separate rooms

    I wait in the darkness of my lonely room
    Filled with sadness, filled with gloom
    Hoping soon
    That you’ll walk back through that door
    And love me like you tried before

    Since you’ve been gone,
    All that’s left is a band of gold
    All that’s left of the dreams I hold
    Is a band of gold
    And the dream of what love could be
    If you were still here with me”

    So, man and woman save themselves for marriage, and on the wedding night he can’t get it up (or premature’d). He’s so embarrassed that he bolts and can’t be enticed back. Don’t play this one at a wedding reception!

    “I Honestly Love You”

    Beautiful melody, great title–what’s not to like? This:

    “Maybe I hang around here
    A little more than I should
    We both know I got somewhere else to go
    But I got something to tell you
    That I never thought I would
    But I believe you really ought to know

    I love you
    I honestly love you

    You don’t have to answer
    I see it in your eyes
    Maybe it was better left unsaid
    This is pure and simple
    And you should realize
    That it’s coming from my heart and not my head

    I love you
    I honestly love you

    I’m not trying to make you feel uncomfortable
    I’m not trying to make you anything at all
    But this feeling doesn’t come along everyday
    And you shouldn’t blow the chance
    When you’ve got the chance to say

    I love you
    I honestly love you

    If we both were born
    In another place and time
    This moment might be ending in a kiss
    But there you are with yours
    And here I am with mine
    So I guess we’ll just be leaving it at this

    I love you
    I honestly love you
    I honestly love you”

    This is what happens when we settle, people–we can wind up on the wrong end of “couples friends!”

    Don’t play this one at a wedding reception, either, ever!


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