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9:07 a.m. - May 28, 2005
Plastic Fantastic Lobster Telephone? Riiiiight!
When I was loading my ‘comfort music’ on my iPod, I took a cruise around to the All Music Guide site (www.allmusic.com) and was looking up what they had to say about some of the artists. I looked up the Cult and wanted to see what they said about the “Electric” album, since I remember it being a whole mess o’ dumb fun.

They concurred, and their closing line was this: “Otherwise, an enjoyable pleasure from start to finish — even if Astbury sings "plastic fantastic lobster telephone" at one point”.

My head did about a 540 – say what? I don’t remember THAT line. So I tried to find the lyrics on line and sure enough – it’s part of the song “Aphrodisiac Jacket”.

Listening to the song and reading the lyrics – the entire song is hilariously wretched. I know Ian Astbury is no T. S. Eliot, but Jeebus! And it sounds like that line is just thrown in there to fit the meter – it makes no sense whatsoever. (Of course, Moose says it doesn’t matter since we just want Astbury to sing “Yeah!” all the time anyway.) Some other choice lines:

Cookin’ in the kitchen, insects on the bone.
Hazy, lazy dream world dripping on
Aphrodisiac jacket, Napoleon machine gun

Uh, yeah, whatever. You could say that I’m taking the words out of context. Well, there is no context that any of those words make sense. NONE, I tell you!

I’ve got about forty sets of song lyrics that I wrote about 10 to 15 years ago (and I’ll expound upon them later this summer), and some of them are fairly lame and misguided. but none of them are that inane. I guess you can get away with it in rock and roll.

I then tore through my song collection, and tried to come up with other lyrics that make no sense, really.

“Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother” by Grand Funk Railroad is undoubtedly earnest, yet it’s bizzarely nonsensical. And the most frustrating thing, is that the song never tells you what the heck it’s trying to say – it makes allusions to things but it’s never clear what those things are. See for yourself:

Written by Mark Farner:

Ain't seen a night, things work out right, go by.
Things on my mind, and I just don't have the time, and it don't seem right.
Ain't seen a day, that I don't hear people say, they know they're gonna' die.
This may seem a little bit crazy, but I don't think you should be so lazy.
If you think you've heard this before, well, stick around I'm gonna' tell you more.

One just like the other, sin's a good man's brother, but is that right?
You tell me that I don't, then I say I won't, but then I might.
You said this is the way it's supposed to be, but it just don't seem right to me, and that's outta' sight.
Some folks need an education, don't give up, or we'll loose the nation.
You say we need a revolution? It seems to be the only solution

Can someone give me a road map, here? Anything? Even by trying to put the song in the context of 1970, with a call for revolution and all, it still doesn’t make sense. The first part doesn’t even connect to the second part. And the “tell me that I don’t…” line just slays me. Yeah, way to be radical Mark. What are you talking about anyway – you won’t renew your library card? You won’t take another class to become a Sociology minor? You don’t have enough stamps on your card to get a free Subway? Hello!

A more popular head scratcher is “Wheel In The Sky” by Journey. I’ll only quote out the lyric that makes the least sense, since many of you know the song:

Sent a letter on a long summer day
Made of silver, not of clay
I've been runnin' down this dusty road

And of course, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning, and he don’t know where he’ll be tomorrow. I think remedial English class is one place where he ought to go! What the hell is that all about? Letters made of silver, not of clay? What happened to a pad of paper and a Flair?


My mother always liked the 5th Dimension. They were a quite good vocal group that had some nice pop songs, well sung and tastefully produced and they were just a wee bit ‘hippie’ but in a non-threatening way. (And because they were an African American act at that time, non-threatening was the way to go. Hey, it got them a TV show, after all).

But one song, written by Laura Nyro, is just bizarre. “Stoned Soul Picnic” was a big hit, written by Laura Nyro. It hit #3 on the charts in 1968, and yet it asked you to “Surrey down to the stoned soul picnic” where they’ll be trains of blossoms, music and trust. Do you really think my mother knew anything about that, whatever it was. I don’t even know what it was, or is. And I don’t think I’ve ever surreyed in my life.

It is funny that nowadays, that song would be declaimed by certain groups as ‘harmful’ and ‘corrupting’ as it ‘encourages drug use’. (Just a hunch!) How could it encourage anything when you can’t figure out what the song is about.

The last one that has come to mind is quite obscure. It’s by a band that was together for about 45 seconds in the 90’s, and the leader of the group was in an equally obscure group in the 80’s. Permanent Green Light was a band formed by Michael Quercio, formerly of the Three O’Clock. He has a flair for writing neo-psychedelic rock-pop tunes with memorable melodies, and his best songs always have a little touch of an edge to them. This is true with this group, but the song “Wintertime’s A Comin’ Martha Raye”.

You can’t find the lyrics on line, so here’s my best guess:

Wintertime’s a-comin’, Martha Raye
Get along when I say that tomorrow’s today back to you
Time is now the essence of today
Get along when I say that tomorrow’s today back to you
Back too soon – back too soon – back too soon
Oh, yeah, yeah yeah

Now we’re the true believers in your fame
Get along - when tomorrow’s today back to you
Back too soon – back too soon – back too soon
Oh, yeah, yeah yeah

We’re the true believers in your fame
So get along when I say that tomorrow’s today
So get along when I say that tomorrow’s today
So get along when I say that tomorrow’s today
Back to you – oh, back to you
Back too soon (baby too soon) (oh, baby too soon)
Back too soon (baby too soon) (oh, baby too soon)
Back too soon (baby too soon) (oh, baby too soon)
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah

(Well, you know you got love that you gave me
Your so in my mind that I want you to stay)

Uh, right…yeah. What you said. A fine tribute to a fine actress / denture wearer and Polident spokesperson, I guess. I think the less said, the better, right?


Oh, there’s plenty cringe-worthy lyrics more hiding on my iPod, I’m sure. Just remember, if you can’t understand the words, maybe it’s all for the best, eh?

 

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