- Bob Dylan was a Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker. His lyrics, which were influenced by surrealist poetry, prompted John Lennon and Mick Jagger, among others, to step up their songwriting, and generally introduced the idea that rock/pop lyrics could go beyond "Love Me Do."
Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees”
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna
, they make it all seem so cruel
- Dylan's style was parodied in Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story; during his 'Dylan' phase (where he is blatantly ripping off Bob Dylan in every facet of his life), Dewey performs a song called 'Royal Jelly', the lyrics of which two of his band members find completely incomprehensible ("Mail boxes drip like lampposts in the twisted birth canal of the Coliseum..."). The third immediately snarls that they're idiots, and that "this song is very deep." Another one, 'Farmer Glickstein', embraces this trope to such a degree that even the singer ends up admitting in the song that he's got no idea what he's singing about.
- Just about any song by Bush, especially "Little Things".
- The Shins and, by extension, Broken Bells, the collaboration between The Shins' singer and writer and DJ Danger Mouse.
- "Walking Contradiction", "Brain Stew", both by Green Day.
- "Long Train Running" by Doobie Brothers.
- A substantial fraction of lyrics by Jason Molina (Songs:Ohia / Magnolia Electric Co.) is WSL. Here's the beginning of one of his better known songs:
They come in sorry for the second vanquisher
To have so much to pretend
Themselves not so against
This we'll survive, surviving those...
- Parodied in the Shellac song Spoke. The Indecipherable Word Salad is shouted with ridiculous passion and the only proper word that can be recognized is the title.
- Anything by Cocteau Twins...basically. Vocalist Elizabeth Fraser went on to guest spots on albums by the Future Sound of London, Craig Armstrong, Massive Attack, and a few soundtracks, with much the same lyrical style.
- Fraser herself has been fairly elusive regarding whether or not any of her lyrics and invented words have meaning. She has stated that she possesses a special dictionary of sorts that contains the words she sings, but despite acknowledging the use of an invented language, has described the basic effect of her words as thus: "They don't mean anything, though, that's the thing. You know all the transcendent sounds. It's all sound all the way through."
- Or you could call them Word Puree Lyrics, aka Singing Simlish.
- Subverted on Heaven Or Las Vegas where she confessed a lot of the songs were about her newly-born daughter.
- Most of Beck's songs qualify as this, but he actually has stories behind almost all of them. A prime example is "Loser":
Forces of evil in a bozo nightmare
Banned all the music with a phony gas chamber
'Coz one's got a weasel and the other's got a flag
One's on the pole, shove the other in a bag
With the rerun shows and the cocaine nosejob
The daytime crap of the folk singer slop
He hung himself with a guitar string
Slap the turkey neck, and it's hanging from a pigeon wing
Beck: You know, when I'm upset, I write a song about it. Like when I wrote Devil's Haircut, I was feeling really... what's that song about?
Bender: Hey, yeah! I could write a song! With real words, not phony ones like "odelay."
Beck: "Odelay" is a word! Just look it up in the Becktionary!
- Here's another gem from "Hotwax"
I can't believe my way back when
My Cadillac pants going much to fast
Karaoke weekend at the suicide shack
Community service and I'm still the Mack
Shocked my finger, spicin' my hand
I been spreading disease all across the land
Sitting in the kitchen
Wishing I was living like a hit man
- One of the more interesting examples has to be They Might Be Giants' "On Earth My Nina", whose lyrics are Mondegreens from playing TMBG's "Thunderbird" backwards.
A famous person wears the same size water skis as me
She's got three cars as many years I've lived in this city.
Her hair is blonde and mine is brown; they both start with a "b"
But when the phone inside her ribcage rings, it's not for me
But when the phone inside her ribcage rings, it's not for me
- Their "Crystal Fortress" song is about Strong Bad, asking for him to "come down from his crystal fortress". Strong Bad not only doesn't get the lyrics, but openly mocks the singer in the background.
- Their song Stuff is Way is basically entirely this.
- The Stone Roses did something similar to "On Earth My Nina" with "Don't Stop": They basically played along to a backwards recording of their song "Waterfall", then wrote new lyrics based on mondegreens of the backwards vocals. Resulting in things like "Pain, blue singer / he's pain, just a guitar"
- "One Week", by Barenaked Ladies, although they do stuff like that for fun in a lot of their songs.
- The "One Week" example is lampshaded in "Testing 1,2,3" off the following album (The music video is more obvious about it, highlighting the next point), which is a Take That at the people that don't understand their lyrics.
- The Flaming Lips do this often, with lines such as "Once in a while/the zebras run/to the spaceman and his gun/in the spider's web" or more infamously "I was born/The day they shot a hole in the Jesus egg", which became the title of a compilation of their earlier work.
- Take away the more straightforward songs such as "Everybody Hurts" and "Don't Go Back To Rockville" and just about everything R.E.M.'s done qualifies. As their name implies, a lot of their songs are based on dreams or intended to feel dreamlike, so its sort of inevitable that this happens. Guitarist Peter Buck said once that Michael Stipe did this intentionally at times: "Murmur is such a lyrically dense record that I don't think anyone will ever get all of it. And some of its not there to get. Certain bits are just words that sounded good strung together."
- Word of God states that "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" was based on a dream one of them had in which they were at a birthday party, and a jellybean covered cheesecake was served. All of the guests were people with the initials L.B. And then the world ended. Hence, Something Something Leonard Bernstein, and
Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom!
- The R.E.M. song "Losing My Religion" also has bizarre lyrics; Word of God declares it to be a song about obsession and unrequited love, although good luck figuring that out by listening to it.
- And then some have a meaning only known to them:
Charades, pop skill, Water hyacinth, Named by a poet, Imitation of life
Like a coin in a frozen pond, Like a goldfish in a bowl, I don't want to hear you cry
That sugarcane that tasted good, That's cinnamon, that's Hollywood, Come on, come on, No one can see you try
- Brazilian band Engenheiros do Hawaii uses a lot of these, though none of them flying as fast as one would expect from some cases seen in this trope. Here's a translation of this, just for reference:
Between a face and a portrait, the real and the abstract, between madness and lucidity, between a uniform and nudity
Between the end of the world and the end of the month, between the truth and the English rock, between the others and you
I feel like a foreigner, passenger of some train, that doesn't go around here, that is nothing but illusion
- The Presidents Of The United States Of America do this often, usually for comedic purposes. On example, "Twig," starts like this: "Some weepy creepy willow pillow boggy shit....," and descends from there.
- Most of Queen's songs, such as "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Another One Bites The Dust" (although the latter does have the underlying thread of street gangs).
- 75% of Nirvana's songs. Which was, of course, parodied by Yankovic, too.
- A particularly glorious example is "On a Plain":
- While there might be a meaning behind it, Alanis Morissette's "Thank U" has verses that qualify in this trope:
How 'bout gettin' off of these antibiotics?
How 'bout stoppin' eatin' when I'm full up?
How 'bout them transparent danglin' carrots?
How 'bout that ever-elusive kudo?
- Radiohead have been known to write some of their lyrics by pulling random phrases out of a hat, particularly on Kid A.
- This is, perhaps, excusable, as Thom Yorke was notoriously obsessed with Dadaism during this period and wrote the lyrics to some of the songs on Kid A following Tristan Tzara's instructions for writing a Dada poem.
- Lyrical Shoehorn plays enough of a role in their songwriting period that this features on all of their albums, to some degree. "I'm teetering on the brink / Of honey sweet / So full of sleep", anyone?
- Shaun Ryder, the lead singer of Happy Mondays, is known for writing incomprehensible drug-induced stream-of-consciousness lyrics.
- "You're twistin' my melon, man!" must have been written while he was on the KFC.
- Black Grape were sort of Ryder's Spiritual Successor to Happy Mondays, so naturally they sort of followed suit. For instance, "Kelly's Heroes" seems like a cynical look at how celebrities are worshiped as heroes, but who knows where "Jesus was a black man, Jesus was Batman, no that was Bruce Wayne!" fits in to that.
- The Manic Street Preachers are another example. Not only have they mashed together various words into lyrics ("Cos reality for TV is Disney not King, Rodney" in Dead Yankee Drawl for an early example), but they have also included references to people and concepts not immediately accessible to the listener, leading to an unofficial website that tries to decipher most of the references. This may also be a Listeners are genius example. While many of Nicky Wire's lyrics are just plain incomprehensible, Richey Edward's songs do have meanings... They're just composed of insanely obscure and complicated references.
- Many Soul Coughing songs seem to just consist of cool-sounding nonsense. Which may possibly be explained due to the lyricist's fondness for...recreational pharmaceuticals.
I'll scratch you raw, l'etat c'est moi
I drink the drink and I'm wall to wall
I absorb trust like a love rhombus
I feel I must elucidate
I ate the chump with guile
Quadrilateral I was, now I warp like a smile
- The verses of "Casiotone Nation" consist of variants of "the five percent nation of (arbitrary noun)" or "The People's Republic of (arbitrary noun)", which the band would change every time it was played live.
- The refrain from "Down to This", which was assembled due to Doughty being a little hyper and repeating various other Ear Worm phrases while working the door at a local club. "You got the tickets/and I got the list" (which made sense in the context of that activity) eventually became the phrase "You get the ankles/I'll get the wrists.
- The song "The Bug" from the Batman & Robin soundtrack was written in one day with lyrics randomly scrawled on a legal pad and then thrown away. Doughty doesn't remember what the words are, doesn't care, and says whatever you imagine them to be is probably more interesting anyway.
- Morphine's "Super Sex": it might be a collection of Gratuitous English seen and overheard while on international tour, or just a very impressionistic take on a late night out on the town, but:
Automatic Taxi Stop Electric Cigarette Love Baby
Hotel Rock'n'roll Discotheque Electric Super Sex
- James, due to their tendency to spawn everything out of jams and improvs and then let Tim just go nuts over the top. The Wah Wah album is the best illustration of this, and "Frequency Dip" is the Crowning Moment Of Bonkers, with its complete garbage about sediment layers, false hair-dos and "some kind of sink unit". "Of Monsters And Heroes And Men", from their latest album, is also deranged.
- Many of Coheed and Cambria's lyrics sound like this. For example, from "Mother Superior": "Mother superior come catch the rabbit he runs (my how've you been), YOU'RE FRIGHTENED OF LEAVING THIS TRULY GONE FISHING AMALGAM (go fetch your gun)"
- A lot of Coheed's lyrics start making more sense if you read the comics that the music is based off of.
- Early Modest Mouse.
- Weezer's "Dope Nose", which Rivers Cuomo has admitted has "no meaning whatsoever". It's not as extreme as some other examples, but it does feature a few baffling lines like "cheese smells so good on a burnt piece of lamb".
- Pretty much anything by Robyn Hitchcock. One of the earlier examples is Leppo and the Jooves, in which the first stanza goes as follows:
Over the Andalusian extensions of the life and loves of Noddy
Through the windows of disgust
The teeth of Leppo and his managers awry
No time to cry
- Peaked out in "Unsettled", e.g.:
Got a heart exact tomato flourish
on a spike of greedy prongs
If a baseball dug moussaka Alan wraps the biscuit in a
Novel thongs accepted every turning bends away
Biting off a crust, the troubled hey do you ...
...but it should be noted that Quirky Hitch frequently reshuffles or reinvents lyrics on the fly when playing live.
- The Pixies were masters at this. Most of their lyrics make no sense whatsoever. Some fans would say that's a part of the band's genius. I think the best example of this is "Mr. Grieves":
Hope everything is alright
What's that floating in the water?
Oh, Neptune's only daughter
I believe in Mr. Grieves
Pray for a man in the middle
One that talks like Doolittle
- Much like the Oasis example below, Black Francis claimed in interviews that during the Bossanova sessions he'd "write lyrics on napkins 5 minutes before recording". Thus earning the album an honorary mention.
- The ending theme to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, "Lithium Flower" by Scott Matthew and Tim Jensen:
she's so cold and human
it's something humans do
she stays so golden solo
she's so number nine
she's incredible math
just incredible math
- The song makes complete sense, however, when listened to in its entirety: it's sung from the perspective of a man enamoured by an amazing surfer girl (In context: Motoko's ability to net dive. Cyber-surfing,) and trying to come up with crazy, made-up similes to describe how awesome she is ("So matador, so calm, so oil-on-a-fire"), before going on about her ability to surf ("wow, where did she learn how to surf/You know I've never seen the girl wipe out"). These types of lyrics are typical in many of Yoko Kanno's soundtracks, and none of it is because she's Japanese. She speaks, reads, and writes fluent English, among other languages.
- Björk's "Pagan Poetry"
On the surface simplicity
but the darkest pit in me
is pagan poetry
- The song "The Messenger" by Your Favorite Enemies, written for Dissidia: Final Fantasy is a bit more normal by the standards of some of the other songs here, but the lyrics still descend frequently into "what the heck does that mean" territory. For example:
Shouting worship choked in a wave of silver
The offering's grief for Deceiver's pride,
Salvation man is a cup of fire
But hope is the star on a morning tide
The Pilgrims are gathering and the marching band, the marching band's howling
Compassion is the flag a righteous man, a righteous man will hold
- It's not just "The Messenger." Their other, non-Dissidia songs are pretty confusing too.
- Phish does this often. Some songs, like "Cavern" or "Stash," feature vivid imagery worked into a narrative that makes no rational sense, whatsoever. As a taste, here's the first verse of "Chalk Dust Torture":
Come stumble my mirth, beaten worker.
I'm Jezmund the family berzerker.
I'm bought for the price of a flagon of rice.
The wind buffs the cabin
You speak of your life
Or more willingly Locust the Lurker.
- Subverted in their song "Down with Disease," which mentions jungles, head-dwelling demons, and a thousand barefoot children, but which is actually about hallucinating while ill.
- Train's "Drops of Jupiter". It definitely seems to have some sort of meaning, but it's so wrapped up in abstract similes and such that it's incomprehensible.
Now that she's back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there's room to change, hey, hey
Since the return from her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey.
- The song is metaphorical for someone leaving and returning different and perhaps alien to the narrator, though if you aren't looking for the meaning, you probably won't hear it.
- "Hey, Soul Sister" - not particularly made better by the fact that Pat Monahan was writing about what he thought Burning Man would look like.
- Syd Barrett's lyrics started changing from psychedelic fairy tales to word salad towards the end of his tenure with Pink Floyd, and this continued through his solo work. The ultimate example being "The Word Song", with lyrics that consist entirely of a non-rhyming list of unconnected words ("Stained, glaucous, glycerine, gold, goat, clover...")
- Leading up to the chorus of "Rats" Syd goes progressively (regressively?) deep into word salad, peaking with (what else?) a list of words, or pretty much so: "Bam, spastic, tactile engine, heaving, crackle, slinky, dormy, roofy, wham, I'll have them, fried bloke, broken jardy, cardy, smoocho, moocho, paki, pufftle, sploshette moxy, very smelly, cable, gable..." Not entirely unconnected though (some are linked by sounding similar, for example).
- Brazilian band Skank sometimes has this. Helped by usage of Gratuitous English, Gratuitous Spanish, and inane singing ("Beat it laun, daun daun, Beat it, loom, dap'n daun, Beat it laun, daun daun").
- The band Falling Up does this with a whole album, Fangs!. Some of the tracks: "Exit Calypsan", "Goddess of the Dayspring Am I", and "The Color Eotopian"
- Some of Five Iron Frenzy's songs fit this trope, especially "Heat Stroke" and the original live version of "Fistful of Sand" (they hadn't written lyrics for it yet, so the singer made up gibberish on the spot).
The phone of Zanzibar, mighty needs I ever come,
mandolin feeding devils, see the fool I am!
Feels like nothing, kills like something, don't you take my life away,
don't it take my life away, shown by killing me!
Feels like nothing, Heaven goo!
Kills like nothing, Heaven deed!
Feels like nothing, kills like something, gonna take my life away!
Feel somebody peel some Coke but (five syllables of gibberish)!
- Many of the songs on Panic at the Disco's newest album Pretty.Odd. are examples of this trope, most notably perhaps "Mad as Rabbits" which opens with the following verse:
Come save me from walking off a windowsill
Or I'll sleep in the rain
Don't you remember when I was a bird
And you were a map?
And now he drags down miles in America
Briefcase in hand
The stove is creeping up his spine again
Can't get enough trash
- Then again, the entire album was done in the style of The Beatles...
- My Chemical Romance's Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
Oh let me tell you 'bout the sad man
Shut up and let me see your jazz hands
Remember when you were a mad man
Thought you was Batman!
And hit the party with the gas can
Kiss me you animal!
- Ludo's "Love Me Dead"
Kill me romantically
Fill my soul with vomit
Then ask me for a piece of gum.
Bitter and dumb
You're my sugarplumb.
You're awful, I love you!
- Actually not that obscure, just a little dense. He's clearly singing about a guy in a toxic relationship. She's bad for him, and he knows it, but he can't stay away.
- A milder example from Chiodos (from I Didn't Say I Was Powerful, I Said I Was A Wizard)
Sightings of shape shifting
Dissolved into the darkness
A final opinion is of less value
Than an appreciation of,
And tolerance for obscurity
- Pick a Red Hot Chili Peppers song at random, and chances are it'll probably be a word salad song. A good example is "Can't Stop":
Knockout, but boy, you'd better come to
Don't die, you know, the truth is, some do
Go write your message on the pavement
Burning so bright, I wonder what the wave meant?
Realize I don't wanna be a miser
Confide with sly you'll be the wiser
Young blood is the lovin' upriser
How come everybody wanna keep it like the kaiser
- A repeated section in "By The Way": Each time, four two-word phrases are said, different for each of the four times this section appears. They don't appear to be significant in any way to anything.
- "Especially In Michigan":
Life is my friend, underwater violins
Order now from Ho Chi Minh
A porcelain that comes in twins
She's got a sword in case though this is not her lord in case the one who can't afford to face her image is restored to grace. Disappeared. No trace. Musky tears. Suitcase. The down turn brave little burncub bearcareless turnip snare rampages pitch color pages...down and out but not in Vegas. Disembarks and disengages. No loft. Sweet pink canary cages plummet pop dewskin fortitude for the sniffing black noses that snort and allude to the dangling trinkets that mimic the dirt cough go drink its. It's for you. Blue battered naval town slip kisses delivered by duck muscles and bottlenosed grifters arrive in time to catch the late show. It's a beehive barrel race. A shehive stare and chase wasted feature who tried and failed to reach her. Embossed beneath a box in the closet that's lost. The kind that you find when you mind your own business. Shiv sister to the quickness before it blisters into the newmorning milk blanket. Your ilk is funny to the turnstyle touch bunny whose bouquet set a course for bloom without decay. get your broom and sweep echoes of yesternights fallen freckles...AWAY!!!
- The Hombres' 60s garage rock novelty "Let It All Hang Out" was deliberately written to be as nonsensical as possible, as a parody of Bob Dylan's lyrical style. One interview does reveal some lines at least had some basis in private jokes among band members, however. Amusingly, the line "Hot dog, my razor broke!" came about because the singer suddenly exclaimed it to the guitarist while they were trying to brainstorm for lyrical ideas - He had been shaving at the time and his razor did in fact fall apart.
- T. Rex's "Rip Off," apparently written to appeal to Americans. If you ever wondered about Dylan's influence on the world...well, "the president's weird, he's got a burgundy beard"...
- Clutch loves this trope. The best example may be "10001110101":
Ribonucleic acid freakout, the power of prayer. Long halls of science and all the lunatics committed there. Robot lords of Tokyo, smile! Taste kittens! Did you not know that the royal hunting grounds are always forbidden?
- Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", which combines references to Celtic mythology and Christianity, concepts from The Lord of the Rings, and outright lyrical noodling.
- In fact, any Led Zeppelin song that isn't about Intercourse with You, and even some of those ("All My Love," anyone?).
I saw a lion, he was standing alone with a tadpole in a jar
- Go have a listen to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me".
You got the peaches, I got the cream.
Sweet to taste, sachharine.
'Cause I'm hot, say what, sticky sweet
From my head, my head, to my feet.
- Many of Blue Oyster Cult's songs, particularly from the Imaginos album.
Oyster boys are swimming for me/Save me from the deathlike creature
- That song is kind of an Updated Re-release. The original lyrics are from a previous song called "Subhuman" on the Secret Treaties album. For Imaginos, they remixed it and added the parts about joining the Cult. Nonethless, even though they are may favorite band, I still don't know what the hell most of their songs are about.
- It should be noted that the "Oyster boys" line is also present in the original "The Subhuman".
- Their album covers used to include an address that you could send a SASE to for copies of their lyrics, but you'd be sorry if you did.
- Scott Weiland has a fondness for this with some of his bands' songs. "Big Bang Baby" by Stone Temple Pilots and "Slither" by Velvet Revolver are a few examples of his often nigh-incomprehensible lyrics.
- "Interstate Love Song" doesn't seem to have anything to do with either love or an interstate.
- Electric Six's weird ballad "Jimmy Carter" references politicians, the Backstreet Boys and Slouching Towards Gomorrah without any logical connection between the themes whatsoever:
Like Harry Truman dropping bombs out of the air / like any self-respecting multi-billionaire
This is who you are / five dancing teenage boys who sing their way into our hearts
- The majority of Electric Six's work is like this.
- Neutral Milk Hotel have such moving yet surreal lyrics as "Blister please, with those wings in your spine/Love to be with a brother of mine/How he'd love to find/Your tongue in his teeth/In a struggle to find/Secret songs that you keep/Wrapped in boxes so tight/Sounding only at night as you sleep".
- "Rubby Bulbs". Choice line: "I need to fill your lungs with smallpox." Pleasant dreams.
- Rogue Wave, with such gems as this from "Stars and Stripes":
Never had a false alarm
Softer than a baby's arm
All hands are right
** Occasionally you can hear a line or two of something meaningful, but Zach Rogue has a tendency to mumble a bit, so it's never quite coherent.
- "Love Underground," by Robbers on High Street. Extremely catchy... and really nonsensical.
- Although he has a Dylanesque sophistication to him anything by Dan Bejar aka Destroyer, also of The New Pornographers. He also is infamous for referencing not only others' lyrics, but HIS OWN ones as well. There's an entire wiki dedicated to analyzing his lyrics.
- Also: "The Geeks Were Right," by The Faint. Catchy? As hell. Logical? Not the least. Thought it does seem to have a pseudo-Green Aesop in it of sorts. At the very least, it states for one line that Humans Are Bastards... and then ignores it.
- That's not even their worst example. Try "Forever Growing Centipedes". The lyrics are just as bizarre as the title. My best guess is that it has to do with chaos theory and anarcho-primitivism, but really, will we we ever know?
- The Eels' "Hidden Track" (yes, that's the actual name of the song, and it's not even particularly "hidden") consists of drummer Butch sing/speaking lyrics like "Jacuzzis and bunnies / A broken fondue set / Kool G is in the outhouse / you can be my Mr French". The official story to it is that there was an online contest for song titles, then the band just ended up putting a bunch of them together to use as lyrics. However, it seems that no one in the fan community remembers any such thing, so it was probably just written to sound like that was what happened.
- JJ72 - "October Swimmer" especially
- Animal Collective's Feels. All of it.
- Some of King Crimson's works, especially "The World is my Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" which also fits World's salad title wax museum... w...wait...what did I just say?
- That particular song's actually a rather clever sort of word salad— it's a bunch of overlapping phrases, along the lines of Wheel of Fortune's "Before and After" category.
- Yes. For a real treat check out the lyrics for "Tales from Topographic Oceans" by Yes, which starts out: "Dawn of light lying between the silence and sold sources / Chased amid fusions of wonder / In moments hardly seen forgotten / Coloured in pastures of chance dancing leaves cast spells of challenge / Amused but real in thought / We fled from the sea / Whole..." and goes on like that for another 79 minutes or so. Like the R.E.M. example above, this partially comes about because Jon Anderson treated the vocals as another instrument, prioritizing how the words sounded over whether they necessarily made sense.
- This is actually a songwriting technique designed to move a writer's focus away from lyrics which are completely logical but a pain in the neck to easily sing or listen to. It's a way of adding "danceability" and earwormishness.
- One of the best-known songs by Yes is Roundabout, which features the extraordinary lyrics, "In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there"note .. How extraordinary are those words? Well, a history of Progressive Rock, written by Will Romano (available on Amazon) is entitled, "Mountains Come Out of the Sky".
- Roger Dean's cover art for the live Yessongs set actually includes, among other things, images of - you guessed it - mountains coming out of the sky and standing there. Upside down.
- "Close to the Edge" one-ups that. It kicks off with "A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace / And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace....", and carries on in that vein for almost 19 minutes.
- "Yours Is No Disgrace" off their second self-titled album is meant to be a Protest Song about the Vietnam War, although it is a very obtuse one
Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face.
Caesar's palace, morning glory, silly human race,
On a sailing ship to nowhere, leaving any place,
If the summer changed to winter, yours is no disgrace.
- Interestingly, a later lyric in the same song about a "shining flying purple wolfhound" is often singled out as a demonstration of their word salad lyrics, but is actually one of the few lines that make literal sense. A "Purple Wolfhound" is the nickname for a kind of British fighter jet, so it's perfectly reasonable for one to be shining and flying.
- "The Gates of Delirium" has "Power spent passion bespoils our soul receiver / Surely we know!" One has to wonder what Jon Anderson's grocery lists look like.
- Starcastle, a band that built its career on soundling like Yes, took this to its ultimate extreme:
Rolled in velvet crystal
Broken reds with scarlet
Hand-me-down of sundry seas
Melting golden flesh is cracked in garden circles grown
- Yes also influenced the style of neo-prog band IQ, whose songs are equally confusing. (Zero Hour for example,)
Yesterday is up for auction
Souvenirs are in demand
In the rooms where rocking horses
Carried us on moonlit strands
Thunder crash and flash of lightning
Storms of metal raining down
Little hands that cradle ashes
Little eyelids heavy, head run aground
- The Mars Volta embodies this trope, with lyrics like "Trackmarked amoeba lands craft/Cartwheel of scratches/Dress the tapeworm as pets/Tentacles smirk please/Flinch the cocooned meat..."
- And no discussion of TMV's word-salad lyrics is complete without the infamous line "The kiosk in my temporal lobe is shaped like Rosalyn Carter!"
- A lot of Porcupine Tree's early material is like this. "Jupiter Island," the first song on their first real album, starts things off and it stays that way up until "Signify," and even on that album you have songs like "Sever."
- Prog rock group Emerson Lake and Palmer had its fair share of incomprehensible lyrics including "right before your eyes, we pull laughter from the skies and he laughs until he cries, then he dies, then he dies"
- That's when they worked with former King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield.
- Gorillaz songs are usually blunt and poignant, but there's a few incomprehensible doozies in there as well, like the chorus to 19/2000:
"Get the cool~ Get the cool shoeshine (lalalalalalalaaa) Get the cool~ Get the cool shoeshine!"
- "Incense & Peppermints" by Strawberry Alarm Clock.
- They even Lampshade this in the lyrics: "Incense and peppermints, meaningless nouns."
- The lyrics for Brian Wilson's [[Music/Smile SMiLE]] project, written by Van Dyke Parks: "Columnated ruins domino" indeed. One of the main reasons The Beach Boys didn't complete it in 1967 was that Mike Love started complaining that he didn't understand the lyrics, and even got in an argument with Parks over them.
- Most of Van Dyke Parks' lyrics qualify as word salads.
- The Beatles' "I Am The Walrus" is one of the most famous examples of this trope.
- "Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye!"
- "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is another Beatles example, although not quite as nonsensical as "Walrus".
- "Come Together" is another one. One can only speculate as to what are the rules to toe-jam football, although if your early warning tells you you have muddy water, a mojo filter might be a nice thing to have.
- "Glass Onion" is another example, full of Shout Outs to earlier Beatles songs of this type.
- And, of course, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?. And "Sun King".
- You might have noticed all of the above songs were by John Lennon.
- Parodied (like everything else in the Beatles' career) by The Rutles, with such ditties as "Good Times Roll" and "Piggy in the Middle".
- The infamous Mondegreen "Some day monkey won't play piano song."
- "Because" opens with the lyrics "Because the world is round, it turns me on". It only makes less and less sense as the song goes on.
- David Bowie often writes this, sometimes using the Burroughs "cut-up" technique. A prime example of this would be his song "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" from the album Reality.
Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?
- "Life on Mars?" is about the isolation of a young girl who escapes her unhappy home life at the cinema, so the chorus is probably referring, montage-style, to the endless parade of movies she sits and watches to forget reality. "The best-selling show" is just a popular film, and the title phrase can be an extension of how badly the protagonist wants to get away.
- A better example would be "Little Wonder," which Name Drops the seven dwarfs, but otherwise is mostly random nonsense.
- Frank Zappa does this a lot, particularly in a song called "Ya Hozna" which further confuses things by playing all the lyrics backwards.
- It's been pointed out that many of Peter Frampton's lyrics are just a bunch of random lines stuck together with no attempt at a narrative or thematic concept. "Show Me The Way" is a particularly notable offender.
- The Band's "Chest Fever": "'She's stoned' said the Swede/And the Moon Calf agreed/But I'm like a viper in shock/With my eyes in the clock." The lyrics were reportedly made up on the spot.
- "Blinded by the Light" by Bruce Springsteen (or Manfred Mann)
- Paul McCartney was prone to this trope on occasion. His most prominent example is probably "Junior's Farm".
You should have seem me with the poker man
I had a honey and I bet a grand
Just in the nick of time I looked at his hand
I was talking to an Eskimo
Said he was hoping for a fall of snow
When up popped a sea lion ready to go
- If anyone can explain what "Jet" is supposed to mean, I'm all ears.
- Most Oasis songs. As the page quote shows, Noel Gallagher, writer of the majority, has admitted sometimes even he doesn't understand the lyrics. An excerpt of "Champagne Supernova" (which he also doesn't understand) frequently enters lists of Worst Lyric Ever ("Slowly walking down the hall/Faster than a cannonball/Where were you while we were gettin' high?").
- Some other examples include:
"I hope I think I know
If I ever hear the names you call
And if I stumble catch me when I fall
'Cause baby, after all
You'll never forget my name"
- Shakermaker (although intentionally written as a psychedelic/insane kind of song):
"I've been driving in my car with my friend Mr. Soft
Mr. Clean and Mr. Ben are living in my loft
Aaaaaaaaaa-ahhh, Shake along with me"
"The sink is full of fishes
She's got dirty dishes on the brain
All my dogs been itchin'
Itchin' in the kitchen once again"
- Honorable mention goes to "Supersonic", which was written in the half-hour before its recording, so it wouldn't make sense anyway.
- All of the forementioned songs were written by Noel Gallagher while high as a kite, which should make up for an explanation.
- Noel's brother Liam has written a few of his own, including "Wind Up Dream" by his new band, Beady Eye:
"If tonight is all we have
Then make the bed with sheets of glass
Let's take it out for one last laugh, come on, come on
If yesterday's is all we got
We tie our bones in one big knot
Squeeze it out 'til every drop is all gone, all gone..."
- Al Stewart's "Red Toupee" song: "To Catalina in a fishing boat/They call it Henry Cisneros/We got no money but we still stay afloat/The jellyfishes don't scare us...In your Red Toupee".
- Shudder to Think went for this fairly frequently, a couple of the most surreal examples being "Shake Your Halo Down" ("Stick a fish in a tattoo gun/ see what color ink comes out") and "Hit Liquor" ("Party of mouths/ a finger fan courtship / The case of her bones are softer than loose meat"). The latter may just be an incredibly cryptic version of an Intercourse with You song though.
- "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden. Chris Cornell himself admits that have little real meaning...
In my eyes, indisposed
In disguise as no one knows
Hides the face
Lies the snake
The sun in my disgrace
Neath the black the sky looks dead
- Many Soundgarden songs are like this. The lyrics to "Outshined":
I got up feeling so down
I got off being sold out
I've kept the movie rolling
But the story's getting old now
I just looked in the mirror
Things aren't looking so good
I'm looking California
And feeling Minnesota
- The "Willow Farm" portion of the Genesis song "Supper's Ready" definitely qualifies.
There's Winston Churchill dressed in drag
he used to be a British flag, plastic bag, what a drag.
The frog was a prince, the prince was a brick, the brick was an egg,
the egg was a bird.
(Fly away you sweet little thing, they're hard on your tail)
Hadn't you heard?
(They're going to change you into a human being!)
Yes, we're happy as fish and gorgeous as geese,
and wonderfully clean in the morning.
Feel your body melt;
Mum to mud to mad to dad
Dad diddley office, Dad diddley office,
You're all full of ball.
Dad to dam to dum to mum
Mum diddley washing, Mum diddley washing,
You're all full of ball.
- The Whitlams' "No Aphrodesiac"
Forty, shaved, sexy, wants to do it all day
With a gun-totin' trigger-happy tranny named Kinky Renée.
Tired teacher, twenty-eight, seeks regular meetings
for masculine muscular nappy-clad brutal breeding
while his wife rough-wrestles with a puppy
all aquiver on a wine-soaked strobe-lit Asiatic hall of mirrors and a dash of loneliness
There's no aphrodisiac quite like it.
- Sounds hot.
- And then they intentionally tried to top themselves on "Chunky Chunky Air Guitar".
She came from the Cocos Islands
With a limp and a snow-shaker huh
Hocked by a fine Arabian Ginger Monsignor
He said you ain'ts gets nothing
Cause nothin' gets made by Koreans
He had dubbin in his hair
And he played the tamborine.
- "This Is A Call" by Foo Fighters. The chorus is pretty straightforward, but the verses seem to just consist of cryptic wordplay, the strangest line being "Seems that all the cysts and mollusks tend to barter".
- Dave Grohl admitted that most of the lyrics in the album were scribbled 20 minutes before he recorded the songs, and that "a few of them aren't even words".
- Or "All My Life" (on his words, "the middle section is about eating pussy and the verses are kind of vague. That's all you've gotta know!"):
All my life I've been searching for somethin'
Somethin' never comes, never leads to nuthin'
Nothin' satisfies, but I'm gettin' close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope
All night long I dream of the day
When it comes around, and it's taken away
Leaves me with the feelin' that I fear the most
Feel it come to life when I see your ghost
- Dave wrote more intelligible lyrics as time passed, but every now and then (specially after his bassist said "I really like it when you write songs that are silly and mean nothing, too.") he does something like "White Limo".
- Bowling for Soup's "I Gotchoo", especially obvious since their lyrics are generally witty, not that it detracts from the song.
Waves hit rocks and folks get wet,
I was gonna say somethin' but now I forget,
Chocolate covered cherries with the milk on the side,
I'll meet you at the party if I find a ride,
Helicopters fly and birds like to nest,
Elvis or The Beatles,
Who care's who's the best, (the Beatles)
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina,
Peanut Butter sandwich with some Aunt Jemima
- Like a lot of other prog rock groups, Jethro Tull is susceptible to putting out Word Salads. Despite such extended examples as "Thick as a Brick" and "Baker Street Muse", their most egregious example is probably "Cold Wind to Valhalla".
- A lot of songs by Half Man Half Biscuit don't even try to make sense, but most of Four Skinny Indie Kids sounds like the singer randomly flipping through a dictionary.
- Some of 16 Horsepower's early material qualifies. Individual stanzas and verses make sense, but they don't fit together into a cohesive song; the overall effect is like David Eugene Edwards exploded a hymnbook and pasted the page scraps back together at random.
- Every single Guided by Voices side project name (example: the Moping Swans), album title (example: Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia), song title (example: Bright Paper Werewolves) and 80% of the lyrics (example: -from Jabberstroker "Cling to the sides, brain-boy we lost our numb-er selves in jail leaving a groovy wit matter on a sailing sky, alive and jabberstroking"). Bob Pollard lives for Word Salad Lyrics. Must be all the beer.
- Linkin Park's High Voltage pretty much consists of these kinds of lyrics.
I've been digging in the crates ever since I was living in space
Before the rat race
Before monkeys had human traits
I mastered numerology and big bang theology
Performed lobotomies with telekinetic psychology\\
- "High Voltage" was written back when they were a more purely hip-hop group (under the name Hybrid Theory) and Chester Bennington hadn't yet joined the group. The songs they wrote afterward averted this trope.
- In the fadeout of "Seven Stars" by Uriah Heep, David Byron apparently got tired of repeating the numbers 1-7, and started running down the letters of the alphabet.
- Sparklehorse lived on this trope. Example: The Knives of Summertime.
A flock of knives
Cut the sky
And buried in my black eyes
And the clouds they bled
In my head
And autumn rain soaked the dry beds
And the hurricane
Of her eyes
Wailed away the knives
The knives of summertime
- The Doors:
Peppermint, miniskirts, chocolate candy,
Champion sax, and a girl named Sandy.
There's only four ways to get unraveled:
One is to sleep, and the other is travel, da-da!
One is a bandit up in the hills;
One is to love your neighbor 'til...
His wife gets home.
- Christ, it's hard to describe just how weird that song is. For reference, these are the lyrics. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
- As Jim Morrison was a published poet, many of their songs crawl into this territory. Another notable example is Celebration of the Lizard.
- Slow hands: "We spies, intimate slow hands, killer for hire, you know not yourself, we spies, intimate slow hands, you let the face slap around yourself;"
- Narc: "Touch your thighs, I'm the lonely one, remember that last sweat 'cause that was the right one;"
- The Heinrich Maneuver: "How are things on the West Coast? I hear you're moving real fine, you wear those shoes like a dove, now strut those shoes, we'll go roaming in the night;"
- PDA: "Yours is the only version of my desertion that I could ever subscribe to, that is all that I can do, you are a past winner, the last dinner, I'm raping all around me, until the last drop is behind you [...] sleep tight, grim rite, we have two hundred couches;"
- Tom Petty (minus the Heartbreakers, on "Full Moon Fever") in "A Mind With A Heart Of Its Own": "Well the man out to end us had a hurricane business / He'd raise them from babies all by himself / But his teen-age accountant had become surrounded / He drank up the party and everyone left." There's also random mentions of Brooker and Micanopy, are/were two suburbs of Gainesville (Petty's hometown).
- Everything Else's "What Can't Be Seen". Lampshaded with the line "You don't know what I mean."
- Primitive Radio Gods' "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" seems to be trying to say something profound...until the last line of the third verse: "And bathe yourself in zebra flesh".
- The Cardiacs' lyrics were always purposely surreal so as to allow fans to make their own interpretations of each song. I still have no idea what to make of stuff like "The Duck and Roger The Horse" though.
- Pick a Pavement song besides "Cut Your Hair" and you'll run into this. An example from "AT&T"
Someone's gonna save me
My heart is made of gravy
And the laps I swim from lunatics don't count
- Sloan's "Penpals", sort of - it's fairly clear through context that the song has something to do with sending a celebrity fan mail, but most of the lyrics are full of idiosyncratic phrasing (for instance: "I have only 13 years / and I am crazy of you"). The lyrics were actually excerpts from international fan mail sent to Kurt Cobain - the band had access to said letters when they were signed to the same label as Nirvana.
- The Queens of the Stone Age song "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer" has several repetitions of "nicotin, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol" as its lyrics, with the occasional break for "co-co-co-co-co-co-caine!".
- "Anyone for Tennis" by Cream.
Twice upon a time in the valley of the tears
The auctioneer is bidding for a box of fading years
And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice
Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice?
- "Looking Out My Back Door" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
There's a giant doing cartwheels,
A statue wearing high heels.
Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.
A dinosaur Victrola listening to Buck Owens.
- Coldplay mostly deals with inner feelings, love, but can get really cryptic at times.
In my scarecrow dreams
When they smash my heart into smithereens
Be a bright red rose come bursting the concrete
Be a cartoon heart
- Dutch band Treble has several songs in made-up language, including their biggest hits Ramaganana and Amambanda. They sound vaguely like the African songs in The Lion King but they're really just pretty-sounding gibberish.
Lo cala malangalande
A babaia cola via hananda zaeaa
O momo gooido veidi memi zon
Ton no masteka jon donge
- Just about any song by Alt-J, but especially Fitzpleasure.
Steepled fingers, ring leaders, queue jumpers
Rock fist paper scissors, lingered fluffers
In your hoof lies the heartland
Where we tent for our treasure, pleasure, leisure
Les yeux, it's all in your eyes
In your snatch fits pleasure, broom-shaped pleasure
Deep greedy and Googling every corner
Blended by the lights
- Cracker, "Low":
A million poppies is gonna make me sleep
Just one rose and knows your name
The fruit is rusting on the vine
The fruit is calling from the trees
- KMFDM's "Megalomaniac" and the title track of Tohuvabohu.
Catyclismic, and prolific
In the age of super-boredom
Hype and mediocrity
Menace to society
- Much of Fall Out Boy's Folie a Deux qualifies. It may qualify as Fridge Brilliance for a lot of listeners, since a lot of the album is narrated by drug abusers. An example, from "Tiffany Blews":
A long walk to a dark ha-ha-ha-ha-house
A Roman candle keeps us far apart
I've got your body doing alright
Hate me baby maybe I'm a piece of art
- "Whole Day Off" by Oingo Boingo opens with this gem:
Have you seen my girlfriend she lives in a pig pen
Have you seen my girlfriend?
I can't seem to find her perhaps she is hiding
Underneath a blade of grass
- In a rare non-English example, every song by the Italian band Verdena.
- John Lees of Barclay James Harvest is known for writing lyrics with complex multiple meanings which look like this trope until you work them out - which may take years, especially since he rarely explains them. But the line "If music be the food of love, then someone ate the crown" still has fans completely baffled decades after he wrote it, and if it isn't this trope it might as well be.
- About half The Traveling Wilburys' songs. You can ... sort of ... tell what they're about, but a lot of the actual lyrics seem to have been chosen because they fit the meter and rhyme. "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" has a narrative based on the exploits of the eponymous pair involving drug dealing, cross-dressing, possible adultery (though it's never clear if the Monkey Man returned Jan's feelings), and revenge, though what "And the walls came down/All the way to Hell/Never saw them when they standing, never saw them when they fell" means is anybody's guess. And then there's Margarita:
I asked her what we're gonna do tonight
She said "Cahuenga langa langa shoe box soup"
We better keep tryin' till we get it right
Tala mala sheela jaipur dhoop
- A lot of Phoenix's lyrics qualify, but "Trying To Be Cool" deserves special mention, even beyond the baffling line "There is no physical evidence of cannibal boyfriend":
They teach you suffer to resist
Too much intention, presbyterian
Mint julep testosterone
Tell me that you want me
Tell me that you want me
- Many early songs by Incubus, with "Take Me To Your Leader" probably being the most baffling:
What if I was just dreaming?
What if I lived in a pear?
What if my watch read 4:20 every hour, every day?
You can bet your dollar I'd be happy
I forgot to remember
I forgot to remember my pain
Take me to your leader
Or die by the fly guy
- In the whole long career of Leonard Cohen it's hard to think of an example that doesn't fit this trope.