Lyrics. They come in all shapes and sizes. Beautiful and poetic, unintentionally hilarious, and poorly written. Yes, those are the only three categories they come in. You want to add fluffy and fun? Okay, I might give you that fourth category. But no more. And for our purposes today, we shall only concern ourselves with bad lyrics. Specifically, the sort of bad lyric which somehow turns into a little nugget of memorable badness my brain insists on carting around at all times, such that when a song comes on containing one of those nuggets I’m obligated to listen to it.
You wouldn’t think there’d be a bad lyric nugget in a Marvin Gaye song. I love Marvin Gaye. He gave us “What’s Going On’ and “Mercy, Mercy Me” and seemingly hundreds of other timeless classics. He also gave us “Let’s Get it On.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I think “Let’s Get it On” is pretty fanglorious. It’s just this little nugget right here:
I ain’t gonna worry, I ain’t gonna push
Won’t push you, baby
Followed immediately by:
So come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, baby
Stop beatin’ ’round the bush, hey
Here’s the thing. Maybe I’m missing something in the delivery, but to my ears Marvin Gaye delivers these back-to-back couplets without the nariest hint of irony. Is he trying to be funny? Maybe the joke’s on me. I don’t know. To me, the song is nothing so much as a paean to the special sort of sincere seventies lovin’ that went extinct in the early 80’s. There is no room for irony in special sincere seventies lovin’. It is too sincere.
On the other end of the pop music spectrum from Marvin Gaye one finds Britney Spears. Now, I’m sure her songs are chock-full of unintentionally hilarious lyrics, but there’s only one my brain has put into its special collection. It’s from the song “Circus.” By the way, am I the only person who liked “Circus?” It’s probably my favorite Britney song, and based on an informal poll amongst friends it appears I stand alone in this. In any case, halfway through “Circus” Britney treats us to this gem:
So baby, I hope that you came prepared
I run a tight ship, so beware
Oh, Brit-Brit. Usually people who run a tight ship don’t have the courts take their estate away from them and put their father in charge of it. Making this line even better/worse is the corresponding moment in the video. Check out her eyes at the 1:54 mark. To quote my dear friend Hilary Ellis, she looks as crazy as a sh*thouse rat right there. If you will remember, Circus was Britney’s first big moment back from being bald and beating up cars with umbrellas. Why include such a mockable line complete with crazy eyes? Another one I collected from the same song:
I’m like a performer,
The dance floor is my stage
You’re “like” a performer? Well, considering how lackluster your dancing is in the video and the fact you don’t actually sing, perhaps the line is perfectly apt.
Now for something completely different. While Marvin’s lyrics puzzle me and Britney’s make me laugh, this next song has a special magic for unleashing waves of wrath. “Free Bird,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lynyrd Skynyrd. I know every word to “All I Can Do is Write About It.” It was on the radio yesterday, a rare occurrence even here in the Deep South. I was filled with glee as I sang along to, “did you ever see a she-gator protect her young?” and “do you like to see a youngin’ with his dog?” I mean, are those not the BEST LINES EVER? I challenge anyone to find a better lyric than, “did you ever see a she-gator protect her young?” It’s an impossible challenge, because there IS NO better lyric than, “did you ever see a she-gator protect her young?” If you are unfamiliar with this song, enlighten yourself to the awesome. Don’t say I never did nuthin’ fer ya.
Anyway, awesomeness of Lynyrd Skynyrd aside, there is the unawesomeness of Lynyrd Skynyrd to consider. This unawesomeness is wholly contained within the karaoke classic known as Free Bird. Or Freebird. However you spell it, it still contains this:
But please don’t take it badly,
‘Cause Lord knows I’m to blame.
But, if I stayed here with you girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you’ll never change.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, and don’t know the beginning of Free Bird, he’s just told her he must be traveling on now, because there are too many places he needs to see. If he stayed there with her, it just wouldn’t be the same, because, essentially, he is over her and is ready to score some new, fresh chick that he will then similarly leave, once it is again time for him to be traveling on now, so that he might yet again see new places and score yet another new chick. He then offers the ameliorating statement that it has been a sweet love, but he can’t change his feelings about wanting to be traveling on now, seeing new places and scorning new chicks. (Ha! That was supposed to be “scoring” but some typos are too perfect to fix.)
As you can see, he is basically making an announcement of his douchebaggeryness, an announcement I hope would be greeted by the girl in question with the following: Although I am sorry I have wasted X amount of my life on you, thanks for the heads up. I will waste no further time, but I’ll be happy to pack your things into a cardboard box I found in the garage that reeks of something unidentifiable. Perhaps the neighborhood tomcat has been marking his territory. In any case, you will find all of your things in said cardboard box located on my front porch. Good luck with your traveling on now. I hope you don’t die in a fiery plane crash or anything.
But before the girl gets a chance to say any of these things, he says this:
But please don’t take it badly,
‘Cause Lord knows I’m to blame.
At which point the girl must abandon her planned, tactful response and go with a more forceful retort, stating that she is not, in fact, taking it badly, rather, the look on her face he has confused for taking it badly is the face she makes when she is trying to be nice to a guy who has just made an announcement of his douchebaggeryness, and while she was going to wish him good luck with his traveling on now, she has changed her mind and hopes he will die in a fiery plane crash.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Lynyrd Skynyrd accumulated the negative karma that resulted in their deaths in a fiery plane crash.