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You What?

June 26, 2021

Do song lyrics matter? In general, for me they do, and most of my favourite songs have great music and words that mean something to me. Having said that, a few songs I love have lyrical content that is arrant nonsense. Exhibit 1 for the prosecution is Reward by The Teardrop Explodes, a magnificent blast of music, if not of literature. OK, it’s an easy defence to refer to Julian Cope’s outlandish medicinal consumption, but that’s no excuse. Let’s look at the evidence:

Bless my cotton socks (no-one says that these days, except possibly your great-grandmother; it’s no way to start a song) I’m in the news (why? for what notable event/activity? – not specified)

The King (who?) sits on his face (impossible) but it’s all assumed (what is?) (Another version of ‘but it’s all assumed’ has ‘buttons all askew’ which makes as little sense)

All wrapped up the same (what is all wrapped up, and the same as what?)

They can’t have it (who, and again, what can’t they have?), you can’t have it (ditto), I can’t have it too (surely ‘either’?)

Until I learn to accept my reward (what reward? for being in the news? and why should I have to learn to accept it? I’d be grateful in any case)

You’ll get as much solid information from the subsequent verses (i.e. zero, unless you’re sharing Mr Cope’s prescription).

The fact that this song reached No 6 in the singles chart shows that few listeners share my rather pedantic interest in the literal, or even metaphorical, meaning of the lyrics. Which disproves my point.

From → Under The Ground

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