I listen to country music. I listen to a lot of music, but if I'm driving in the car and I get tired of sports talk radio, I listen to country. And the other day, I turned on 104.5 WSLD (which Sara calls "the salad station"), and the song "Last Dollar," by Tim McGraw, came on. I defy anyone to tell me what that song is about. Is it about his kids? His wife? His fans? His parents? It could be any or none of those. And when he breaks it down and says, "Everybody say, "Ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha,'" that's typically when I go back to ESPN radio. Anyway, it got me thinking about nonsense lyrics. There are a lot, and I think that sometimes artists think that a good beat or melody will overshadow their garbage lyrics. Well, I won't let it happen. I'm prepared to expose them. Here goes:
"Every Morning," by Sugar Ray. I'm stealing this one from a comedian named Rob Paravonian. Here's his riff on the song. Some problematic lyrics: 1) He wants to see if his girlfriend will let him use her "halo" (?) for a "one-night stand," 2) He says, "I left my broken heart open and you ripped it out," even though he's the one who is evidently cheating on her, and 3) There's a point when he's talking about how he wants to "do it again," and a creepy voice in the background repeats, "Shut the door baby--don't say a word." This isn't a pop song. It's the soundtrack for a horror film.
"Our Song," by Taylor Swift. I was riding shotgun with my hair undone in the front seat of his car. He had a one-hand feel on the steering wheel and another on my heart. He had a "one-hand feel" on your heart? What does that mean? Is that an expression I'm not familiar with? Or is this actually a PG-13 song?
"Bust A Move," by Young MC. I'm stealing another one--this time from Chuck Klosterman. In the song, Young says, "Your best friend Harry has a brother Larry. In five days from now he's gonna' marry. He's hopin' you can make it there if you can 'cause in the ceremony, you'll be the best man." A couple of issues here: 1) Who asks someone to be his best man five days before the wedding? And even if you argue that it's some sort of shotgun situation, 2) Why would your best friend's brother ask you to be the best man? Why didn't Larry ask Harry? And if he doesn't get along with his brother, how is he so close to his brother's best friend? Do you see what I'm talking about?
"I'd Rather Ride Around With You," by Reba McIntyre. Another confusing wedding party song. Here's the first verse:
My cousin's gettin' married at the Methodist church
That's why I stayed home from work
I'm supposed to hold the flowers
When the new bride kisses the groom
That's what I'm supposed to do
So what are we doin' with the windows rolled down
Twenty-five passionate miles from town?
I love her like a sister baby but to tell you the truth
I'd rather ride around with you
Do you understand what's going on here? The narrator had a responsibility to be the maid of honor (or at least a bridesmaid) at her cousin's wedding, and she's just out riding around with some guy. When would that ever happen? Answer: It wouldn't.
"All-American Girl," by Carrie Underwood. Speaking of shirking responsibility, this song is about a girl who falls for the "senior football star," at which point he starts "dropping passes" and "skipping practice just to spend more time with her." Now, the coach admonishes the kid and warns him that he'll "lose [his] free ride to college," so we assume that this kid is a legitimately outstanding player. I refuse to believe that any kid with that kind of ability would skip multiple football practices simply to spend time with a girl (even if she is a "sweet little beautiful, wonderful, perfect All-American girl"). Again, it just wouldn't happen.
"Stronger Woman," by Jewel. Apparently Jewel is now a country singer, but her writing chops have not matured since she used "casualty" do describe the state of being casual in her poetry book that was published in 1999. Here's the line that bugs me in this song:
I guess you could say I'm one of those girls
That's always been with one of those guys
You know the type
Like right now, he sleeps while I write
Wow. You're writing a song and he has the audacity to be asleep? What a prick. I guess that she's using this as an example of how he doesn't care about her or something, but seriously, this seems like a pretty rigid expectation--the guy's supposed to be awake every time that she's writing? That seems totally unreasonable. Let the guy rest for crying out loud.
I spend all day preaching to my kids the importance of precise, direct language, and then these people undo all of the work I've done in three and a half minutes. It's just bothersome, you know?