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Author Topic: Songs That Would Have Been Better With Different Lyrics  (Read 1366 times)
Rick5150
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« on: March 13, 2017, 01:23:44 PM »

I was listening to Take A Load of Your Feet the other day and it struck me to how catchy the song is, but how embarrassingly goofy the lyrics are. This is one example of a Beach Boys song that will sing along to in the car, but I would be embarrassed to be caught listening to by anyone. It does not have the same flair as other goofy songs – even ones like Lazy Lizzie and Hey Little Tomboy. The world's number one vocal group singing about feet? WTF?

Then I heard Bruce’s Tears in The Morning, and that is another one where I love the music and the way the background vocals interact, but I am not a huge fan of the lyrics.

What are some of the Beach Boys songs that you would like a lot more if the lyrics were better?
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the captain
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2017, 01:46:48 PM »

I have thought about this on and off as long as I’ve been a Beach Boys fan, and my opinions have changed.
 
For a long time—back before I was a fan and once I became one—the lyrics were a big sticking point for me. I’m bored to death by cars, totally ambivalent to surfing, so up until I got into the deeper catalogue and songs about feet, trees, the solar system, and creepy middle aged men leering at tomboys and other too-young-for-them girls, I figured there wasn’t much left other than typical boy-and-girl songs. And frankly, a lot of their lyrics just always struck me as clumsy or stupid.
 
Pet Sounds and Smile songs were the exceptions for me. The rest, I’d rather leave than take (in those days).
 
But just as I came around on the greatness of pop music, I have come around to really appreciate a good pop lyric. I don’t care if it’s clumsy or stupid if it’s the right kind of clumsy or stupid, which no, I cannot define. If it sounds to me as being within the skill-set of the writer (as opposed to a pretentious overreach), I’m likely to be just fine with it. For example, the OP’s reference to “Take a Load Off Your Feet”: I love it exactly as it is. Ditto “Susie Cincinnati,” “When a Man Needs a Woman,” “Mona,” and dozens more.
 
Pretty much the only type of lyrics I despise now are what sound to be to be the aforementioned pretentious overreach (I’d say Jack Rieley’s lyrics fit this bill), the excruciating self-references of later Mike Love lyrics, and the creepy moments in tunes like “Roller Skating Child” (which I like a lot of, on one level, but is just ICK) and “Hey Little Tomboy.” Otherwise, I’m good. I know the Beach Boys weren’t Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, or John Darnielle, and I’d assume they know it, too. But the opposite is true as well: those people are not the Beach Boys. For the most part, I like what’s there for what’s there.
 
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2017, 01:56:04 PM »

'Passing By'
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2017, 06:02:27 PM »

I have thought about this on and off as long as I’ve been a Beach Boys fan, and my opinions have changed.
 
For a long time—back before I was a fan and once I became one—the lyrics were a big sticking point for me. I’m bored to death by cars, totally ambivalent to surfing, so up until I got into the deeper catalogue and songs about feet, trees, the solar system, and creepy middle aged men leering at tomboys and other too-young-for-them girls, I figured there wasn’t much left other than typical boy-and-girl songs. And frankly, a lot of their lyrics just always struck me as clumsy or stupid.
 
Pet Sounds and Smile songs were the exceptions for me. The rest, I’d rather leave than take (in those days).
 
But just as I came around on the greatness of pop music, I have come around to really appreciate a good pop lyric. I don’t care if it’s clumsy or stupid if it’s the right kind of clumsy or stupid, which no, I cannot define. If it sounds to me as being within the skill-set of the writer (as opposed to a pretentious overreach), I’m likely to be just fine with it. For example, the OP’s reference to “Take a Load Off Your Feet”: I love it exactly as it is. Ditto “Susie Cincinnati,” “When a Man Needs a Woman,” “Mona,” and dozens more.
 
Pretty much the only type of lyrics I despise now are what sound to be to be the aforementioned pretentious overreach (I’d say Jack Rieley’s lyrics fit this bill), the excruciating self-references of later Mike Love lyrics, and the creepy moments in tunes like “Roller Skating Child” (which I like a lot of, on one level, but is just ICK) and “Hey Little Tomboy.” Otherwise, I’m good. I know the Beach Boys weren’t Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, or John Darnielle, and I’d assume they know it, too. But the opposite is true as well: those people are not the Beach Boys. For the most part, I like what’s there for what’s there.
 

I'll take Jack Rieley's "prententious overreach" lyrics any given day on songs written by Brian and Carl Wilson and thank the heavens above that myKe luHv didn't get his mitts on them. Jack's words were perfect for the time and gave listeners what they wanted to hear, great music and cool words. How in the hell can anyone despise "Long Promised Road", "Feel Flows", "A Day in the Life Of A Tree" or "Steamboat" or "Mess Of Help"? Yes, by all means hate on myKe luHv's
dumb ass stupidity, but Jack? Guy was an incredible poet, who did nothing but beautifully embellish those great songs.
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the captain
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2017, 06:06:46 PM »

Glad you like his work.
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2017, 05:02:29 AM »

I don' t mind the Jack Reilly or Van Dyke Parks lyrics so much as they flow well, even if I don't know what the hell they are singing about. Despite the vernacular, I like the early surf and car songs because of the passion that you could feel in the way the songs were sung. The words were not necessarily bad, but most people did not really understand them. The boy/girl songs have an appeal to everyone.

I think people cut the boys some slack in the early days because albums were often a few good songs mixed with filler material. After Pet Sounds (and SMiLE rumors), regardless of what Mike Love wants, it is hard to go back to the early songs. The carpenter who just built a beautiful mansion is not going to get much attention when he builds a birdhouse, regardless of how nice it is. Unless you are a connoisseur of birdhouses. I can appreciate the Beach Boys "birdhouses" because most of them are built well even if they are not the most intricate. There is beauty to be found everywhere in their music.

Simplicity is just as good sometimes, and I get that - and like the captain, I am constantly reassessing the Beach Boys catalogue. I love songs now, that I skipped over fifteen years ago. Songs that I loved back then can be grating now.  Take A Load of Your Feet is a fun song to sing and the production is amazing. The production on the entire album is stunning, in fact. It is kind of why I would have liked a more user friendly set of lyrics on that one. Plus, the sequencing throws me off a bit.

The ecological-minded Don't Go Near The Water sets the stage for Carl's optimistic Long Promised Road. Then they sing about feet, just before Bruce's nostalgic Disney Girls gives way to the topical, but jarring Student Demonstration Time.  "Feet" is a catchy tune, but I would have liked the song to have more relevance to ...well, anything else that was going on back then. Maybe on a different album I would not have minded so much?

Bruce's Tears In The Morning is the same thing for me. It has a stunning production, the melody is really well done and there is beautiful background vocal interplay, but the lyrics are sappy and unrelatable to most of the human population. 

I would like to say that normally I like goofy songs like Ding Dang, Shortenin' Bread, Sunshine, etc.
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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2017, 10:51:31 AM »

I'll probably be in the minority on this one, but I wish Country Air had lyrics.
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the captain
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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2017, 01:47:09 PM »

I totally agree and would be surprised if that's a minority opinion. (Though I have no idea.) As-is, it's a cute little tune; not that I'd expect it to be an epic tome, I think something beyond "mmm mmms" would have been nice.
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2017, 01:47:49 PM »

I think that the song "Summer In Paradise" would possibly have been a hit(and a better song overall), if it had different lyrics. Keep the Bruce verse(with different lyrics, obviously). I think the "ecology" theme may have still worked if the lyrics weren't so, well, goofy and corny. The references to other songs is what really kills this song. But despite everything I've just said, I really like this song. Except for that damn saxophone! It would have been so much better with some Byrds styled Rickenbacker guitar.
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2017, 01:59:39 PM »

He Comes Down
TM Song
I Just Got My Pay
Good Time
Honkin' down the Highway
Don't go Near the Water
Student Demonstration Time

Musically all good to great songs, lyrically they're clunkers - awkward and even downright embarrassing lyrics.
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2017, 02:24:37 PM »

I like Jack's words a TON.  Music was going through major and important change and transition.  The Beach Boys went from being castaways and out and out squares in clown suits to being seen and received as cool...thanks in LARGE part to Jack's guidance and assistance.  Of course moving the guy with the roll of socks in his pants away from the front of the stage...and out of the 'creative' seat beside the piano went a LONG way in helping to correct the obviously out-of-date image and thinking.  When that switched back into being 'phase 2' the erosion would slowly and assuredly finish off the whole presentation.

And while we're at it...let's not overdo giving chrome dome too much credit for what he did to help lay the foundation.  He only had a hand in being the one and only lyrics guy on 3 songs each with the Surfin' Safari and Surfin' USA albums.  If Murry [ah the 'great' Meddlin' Murry] didn't dislike Gary Usher as much as he apparently did we might very well have had FAR fewer 'lovely' lyrics needing a rewrite.

I do agree with 'El Capitain' though regarding there being way too many 'OLD GEEZERS leering at young girls from their walkers' songs...even on TWGMTR.  Brian's solo catalogue suggests that the influence on those senile 'salivators' came from some other attending old fart.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 02:27:46 PM by Add Some » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2017, 02:32:34 PM »

I think Mike will be touring in a walker when it's over.
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2017, 03:14:03 PM »

'summer of love'
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2017, 11:11:57 PM »

'summer of love'
I don't think anything can save that one.  Grin
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« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2017, 12:32:21 AM »

I think that the song "Summer In Paradise" would possibly have been a hit(and a better song overall), if it had different lyrics. Keep the Bruce verse(with different lyrics, obviously). I think the "ecology" theme may have still worked if the lyrics weren't so, well, goofy and corny. The references to other songs is what really kills this song. But despite everything I've just said, I really like this song. Except for that damn saxophone! It would have been so much better with some Byrds styled Rickenbacker guitar.

I was actually asking myself, has there ever been an actual hit song about ecology? come to think of it, why would Mike Love bother, even if it's a topic dear to him to give it a try and push it as a single when he was trying to surf on the success of Kokomo, if people loved Kokomo i don't think they wanted to hear his political cheesy thoughts, but then again, i guess if he saw Kokomo as his Good Vibrations then SIP was probably his Pet Sounds, so i take it as this was him being adventerous, that is to Mike Loves degree of course.
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« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2017, 01:02:05 AM »

Pom Pom Play Girl.

Those chord changes! That song could have been one of their classics. I actually feel that Shut Down Vol 2 could have been one of the greatest albums ever. With some of the filler gone and different lyrics for several of the tracks, and of course a different album title. The potential was there. One of their first 'might have beens'
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« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2017, 01:20:54 AM »

Basically all of the original songs on Adult/Child. There's a decent amount of good-to-great songs on there, but they're nearly ruined by Brian's lyrics. And I usually like Brian's lyrics.
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« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2017, 03:11:39 AM »

I like Jack's words a TON.  Music was going through major and important change and transition.  The Beach Boys went from being castaways and out and out squares in clown suits to being seen and received as cool...thanks in LARGE part to Jack's guidance and assistance.  Of course moving the guy with the roll of socks in his pants away from the front of the stage...and out of the 'creative' seat beside the piano went a LONG way in helping to correct the obviously out-of-date image and thinking.  When that switched back into being 'phase 2' the erosion would slowly and assuredly finish off the whole presentation.

And while we're at it...let's not overdo giving chrome dome too much credit for what he did to help lay the foundation.  He only had a hand in being the one and only lyrics guy on 3 songs each with the Surfin' Safari and Surfin' USA albums.  If Murry [ah the 'great' Meddlin' Murry] didn't dislike Gary Usher as much as he apparently did we might very well have had FAR fewer 'lovely' lyrics needing a rewrite.

I do agree with 'El Capitain' though regarding there being way too many 'OLD GEEZERS leering at young girls from their walkers' songs...even on TWGMTR.  Brian's solo catalogue suggests that the influence on those senile 'salivators' came from some other attending old fart.

I'd agree with all of this and add one that has always irritated me because it really doesn't scan well: When Girls Get Together. I don't know if the music was written first, the lyric, both together but whoever's fault, the lyric doesn't doesn't fit (as well as being clumsy in many places 'They don't waste time on things like weather and stuff'.....  It could have been much better with different words.
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« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2017, 09:15:02 PM »

I was listening to Take A Load of Your Feet the other day and it struck me to how catchy the song is, but how embarrassingly goofy the lyrics are. This is one example of a Beach Boys song that will sing along to in the car, but I would be embarrassed to be caught listening to by anyone. It does not have the same flair as other goofy songs – even ones like Lazy Lizzie and Hey Little Tomboy. The world's number one vocal group singing about feet? WTF?

Then I heard Bruce’s Tears in The Morning, and that is another one where I love the music and the way the background vocals interact, but I am not a huge fan of the lyrics.

What are some of the Beach Boys songs that you would like a lot more if the lyrics were better?

I agree that Take a Load Off Your Feet's lyrics are embarrassing, but I can't find a damn thing wrong with the lyrics to Tears In the Morning.
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« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2017, 09:47:50 PM »

I've always found Let's Put Our Hearts Together cheesy despite loving the actual music.

And someone will probably come along and mention Match Point Of Our Love, but that's one of my favourite songs lyrics and all.

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« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2017, 06:31:54 AM »

I was actually asking myself, has there ever been an actual hit song about ecology?

Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" must qualify. It went top five all over Europe but was never issued as a single in the States. 

https://youtu.be/XAi3VTSdTxU

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Song
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« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2017, 07:54:25 AM »

Mercy, Mercy Me...The Ecology...Marvin Gaye?

Our 'boys' weren't exactly BIG on 'thinkin' lyrics now were they...especially that 1 guy.
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« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2017, 12:19:01 AM »

Another ecology hit: Big Yellow Taxi.
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