Saturday, January 07, 2006

"Ho Ho Ho, He He He, Ha Ha Ha": Some Favorite Pop & Rock Laugh Lines and Songs
January 06, 2006
Maybe I'm easily amused, but Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver" always cracked me up--in a cosmically conscious way, of course. I'll try to restrain these more quirky impulses, but for your edification and entertainment, I've provided a compilation of lyrics or songs that I have found humorous or witty, snort-worthy or yuk-some. The listing reflects both whole songs and/or partial lyrics I find to my liking. Entries are subjective, unorganized, non-exhaustive, not definitive and not in any particular order. You are cordially invited, therefore, to fill in the many gaps--"Dream Weaver" included, should you so desire.

"Mystery Dance" by Elvis Costello.
Romeo is not only restless, as the song mentions, but he's a little confused:
Well I was down under the covers in the middle of the night,
Tryin' to discover my left foot from my right.
You can see those pictures in any magazine.
But what's the use of looking when you don't know what they mean.

"Is It Really So Strange?" By the Smiths.
Romeo leaves home, continues to be confused:
I left the South
I travelled North
I got confused - I killed a horse
I can't help the way that I feel.

"I Wanna Get Married" by Nellie McKay.
Whoa, Nellie! The trouble with McKay is in choosing which of her many witty and wise lyrics to use--and I haven't even heard the new CD yet. Here she is in a tongue-in-cheek Doris Day guise:
I wanna get married
yes, I need a spouse
I want a nice Leave it to Beaverish
Golden retriever and a little white house
I wanna get married
I need to cook meals
I wanna pack you cute little lunches
For my Brady bunches
Then read Danielle Steele ...
...I will never tarry
I'm not even torn
I wanna get married
that's why I was born.

"Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" by Tom Lehrer.
BYOC--Bring Your Own Cyanide:
So if Sunday you're free,
Why don't you come with me,
And we'll poison the pigeons in the park.
And maybe we'll do
In a squirrel or two,
While we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin'
With each drop of strychnine
We feed to a pigeon.
It just takes a smidgin!
To poison a pigeon in the park.

"Frank's Wild Years" by Tom Waits.
There's a good life lesson in here somewhere, somehow, as Waits give form to dysfunction. But of course, Tom would always "rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy":
Frank settled down in the Valley,
and he hung his wild years on a
nail that he drove through his
wife's forehead.
He sold used office furniture out
there on San Fernando Road and
assumed a $30,000 loan at
15 1/4 % and put a down payment
on a little two bedroom place.
His wife was a spent piece of used jet trash
Made good bloody-marys, kept her mouth
shut most of the time, had a little Chihuahua
named Carlos that had some kind of skin
disease and was totally blind.
They had a thoroughly modern kitchen;
self-cleaning oven (the whole bit)
Frank drove a little sedan.
They were so happy.
One night Frank was on his way home
from work, stopped at the liquor store,
picked up a couple of Mickey's Big Mouth's.
Drank 'em in the car on his way to the
Shell station; he got a gallon of gas in a can.
Drove home, doused everything in
the house, torched it.
Parked across the street laughing,
watching it burn, all Halloween
orange and chimney red.
Frank put on a top forty station,
got on the Hollywood Freeway
headed North.
Never could stand that dog.

"People Take Pictures Of Each Other" by the Kinks.
Kodak moments probed and exposed:
People take pictures of the Summer,
Just in case someone thought they had missed it,
And to proved that it really existed.
Fathers take pictures of the mothers,
And the sisters take pictures of brothers,
Just to show that they love one another.

"Bill Lee" by Warren Zevon.
A little motivational speaking, in song. Do Worry, Be Unhappy:
You're supposed to sit on your ass and nod at stupid things
Man, that's hard to do
And if you don't, they'll screw you
And if you do, they'll screw you, too.

"Back In The USSR" by the Beatles.
I wish they all could be Cold Warrior Girls. The Russkie way of life paradoxically celebrated in quintessentially All-American Beach Boys and Chuck Berry fashion. Irresistibly inspired, the execution replete with wit:
Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the west behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
That Georgia's always on my my my my my my my my my mind ...
...Oh, show me round your snow peaked
mountain way down south
Take me to your daddy's farm
Let me hear your balalaika's ringing out
Come and keep your comrade warm
I'm back in the USSR.

"Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" by Frank Zappa
Always the utopian visionary:
There will come a time when everybody
Who is lonely will be free...
To sing and dance and love (dance and love)
There will come a time when every evil
that we know will be an evil...
That we can rise above (rise above)
Who cares if you're so poor you can't afford
To buy a pair of Mod A Go-Go stretch-elastic pants...
There will come a time when you can even
Take your clothes off when you dance.

"Tombstone Blues" by Bob Dylan.
Somebody's ready for his close-up:
Now I wish I could give Brother Bill his great thrill
I would set him in chains at the top of the hill
Then send out for some pillars and Cecil B. DeMille
He could die happily ever after.

"Marie Provost" by Nick Lowe.
A cautionary tale. But mostly a sordidly true story about a Hollywood actress whose tinsel town dream turned a little nightmarish, and whose pet dog turned a little peckish and resourceful when his regular dinner time came and went:
Marie Provost did not look her best
the day the cops bust into her lonely nest
in the cheap hotel up on Hollywood west
July 29
She'd been lyin' there for two or three weeks
The neighbors said they never heard a squeak
While hungry eyes that could not speak
Said even little doggies have got to eat .
She was a winner that became a doggie's dinner
She never meant that much to me ...
Those quaalude bombs didn't help her sleep
As her nights grew long and her days grew bleak
It's all downhill once you've passed your peak
Marie got ready for that last big sleep
The cops came in and they looked around
Throwin' up everywhere over what they found
The handiwork of Marie's little dachshund
That hungry little dachshund
She was a winner that became a doggie's dinner
She never meant that much to me ...

"Lola" by the Kinks.
"I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man/ And so is Lola." Um, do you mean Lola's a man, or your glad you're a man, or what, exactly? In either case, there's enough gender confusion to go around:
Well I'm not the world's most physical guy
But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine
Oh my Lola lo-lo-lo-lo Lola
Well I'm not dumb but I can't understand
Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man
Oh my Lola lo-lo-lo-lo Lola lo-lo-lo-lo Lola.

"Red Dragon Tattoo" by Fountains of Wayne.
Mermaids and Moms considered, but now he looks a little like that guy from Korn. "I'm fit to be dyed. Am I fit to have you?":
I hear the man say you want to see the others
A mermaid and a heart that says mother
But I don't know from maritime
And I never did hard time
I brought a .38 Special CD collection
Some bactine to prevent infection
And in case I get queasy
A photo of Easy Rider.
Red dragon tattoo
Is just about on me
I got it for you
So now do you want me
With nothing to prove
Will you be my honey, oh yeah
In you I confide
Red dragon tattoo
I'm fit to be dyed
Am I fit to have you?

"They're Coming To Take Me Away" by Napoleon XIV.
Even weirder was the flip side, "!aaah-aH, yawA eM ekaT ot gnimoC er'yehT," which was, of course, the A-side run backwards. Here's some of the sane version:
You thought it was joke and so you laughed, you laughed when I had said that losing you would make me flip my lid, right? You know you laughed, I heard you laugh, you laughed, you laughed and laughed and then you left, but now you know I'm utterly mad.
And They're coming to take me away Ha Ha
They're coming to take me away ho ho he he ha ha
To the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time and I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats
They're coming to take me away Ha Ha
To the happy home with trees and flowers and chirping birds and basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes
They're coming to take me away Ha Ha.

"Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger.
They did actually succeed in taking Harvey away. There are goofier lines in the song, but I most love the bit about his legless fate and cursed spite thereof:
Put me in the hospital for nerves
And then they had to commit me
You told them all I was crazy
They cut off my legs now I'm an amputee
God damn you.
I'm not sick but I'm not well
And I'm so hot cuz I'm in hell
I'm not sick but I'm not well
And it's a sin to live so well.
I wanna publish 'zines
And rage against machines
I wanna pierce my tongue
It doesn't hurt it feels fine...

"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" by the Smiths.
And maybe you had to be there, but it's probably just as well you weren't:
Nothing's changed
I still love you, oh, I still love you
...Only slightly, only slightly less than I used to, my love.
I was delayed, I was way-laid
An emergency stop
I smelt the last ten seconds of life
I crashed down on the crossbar
And the pain was enough to make
A shy, bald, Buddhist reflect
And plan a mass murder
Who said lied I'd to her ?

"It's a Pose" by Nellie McKay.
With her cynicism on her sleeve, Nellie stands behind her man--and pushes:
You're preenin' in your armchair
And I'm steamin' at your knee
Go on pontificatin' like I care
Peter Lorrie, then a story about AC/DC
Harvard-educated, frustrated dictator
tyrant with a PhD
"What the hell do you mean?"
Well for instance
You have started every war
"and what else?"
You're obscene, a coincidence
Get your pornos from Time Warner
Who is fornicatin' foreign shores
But hey hey hey
That ain't nothin' to do with you
You're a sensitive Joe, I'm forgettin'
But every woman knows
It's a pose, just a pose.

"Dead Skunk" by Loudon Wainwright III.
You got your dead skunk at the top of the charts. Of all the Billboard Hot 100 Hits about road kill (and it's only wishful thinking that "Muskrat Love" would count), this is the highest-charting:
Take a whiff on me, that ain't no rose!
Roll up yer window and hold yer nose
You don't have to look and you don't have to see
'Cause you can feel it in your olfactory.
You got yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high Heaven!

"Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me" by Warren Zevon.
He's not naming names, but he's pointing fingers and showcasing kitchen appliances:
Well I met a girl in West Hollywood
I ain't namin' names
She really worked me over good
She was just like Jesse James
She really worked me over good
She was a credit to her gender
She put me through some changes Lord
Sort of like a waring blender.
Poor poor pitiful me
Poor poor pitiful me
These young girls won't let me be
Lord of mercy on me
Woe is me.

A random scattering of more drollery, of the non-definitive and incomprehensive kind:
B-52s: "Private Idaho," "Rock Lobster."
Elvis Costello: "Waiting For The End Of The World," The World And His Wife."
The Dickies: "Manny, Moe, and Jack."
Ian Dury and the Blockheads: "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll."
Bob Dylan: "Highway 61 Revisited," "Tight Connection To My Heart," "Stuck in Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again."
Fountains Of Wayne: "Utopia Parkway," "Leave The Biker," "Valley Of Malls," "Bright Future In Sales."
John Hiatt: "You're My Love Interest."
Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks: "The Laughing Song."
Jan and Dean: "The Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review, and Timing Association."
The Kinks: "Alcohol," "Apeman." "Australia."
Lovin' Spoonful: "Jug Band Music," "Did You Ever Have To make Up Your Mind?"
Nick Lowe: "Switchboard Susan," "Half A Boy And Half A Man."
Nellie McKay: "Change The World," "Inner Peace," "Toto Dies."
Replacements: "Androgynous," "Gary's Got A Boner."
Steely Dan: "Showbiz Kids," "Throw Back The Little Ones."
Loudon Wainwright III: "Nocturnal Stumblebutt," "Rufus Is A Tit Man."
Tom Waits: "Step Right Up," "Singapore."
Weezer: "Buddy Holly," "Hash Pipe."
Paul Westerberg: "Mannequin Shop."
Warren Zevon: "Excitable Boy," "Even A Dog Can Shake Hands," I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," "Disorder In The House."


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