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Thread: Obscure and dated references in lyrics

  1. #26
    In the clear white circles of morning wonder
    I take my place with the lord of the hills
    And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured
    In neat little rows sporting canvas frills -- a reference to alleged hippies conforming in dress-style all in blue jean jackets with frills ("discoloured" refers to faded jeans)
    With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention
    While queuing for sarnies at the office canteen -- Sarnies, sub sandwiches
    Saying: "How's your granny?" and good old Ernie -- ERNIE or Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment, part of a lottery-based bond system
    He coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win -- a "tenner" is a £10 note. A "premium bond" is a lottery bond issued by the UK, refers back to ERNIE.
    "And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision."

    Occasional musical musings on https://darkelffile.blogspot.com/

  2. #27
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spellbound View Post
    I don't recall hawkers selling newspapers by shouting "Extra! Extra!" but I know they did so because I watched plenty of old movies.
    That was when something big happened and the paper had to print another edition later in the day containing supplemental material.
    The closest thing to that I can relate to was my father coming home with the Boston Evening Globe every day. When I got older I'd see the paper at school or work and come home and the front page would often be completely different. They quit putting out another edition about 40 years ago.

  3. #28
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    That was when something big happened and the paper had to print another edition later in the day containing supplemental material.
    Huh. I never knew that's what it meant. I guess I just always assumed it meant "extra important."
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  4. #29
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    ‘Hippy’ jargon from the late 1960s often subverted everyday words and phrases to give them new meaning. ‘Cool’ has made a comeback. But some of the other phrases and words from that period are also great, including ‘straight’, ‘pale’ and ‘the bag I’m in’.

    On HP Lovecraft’s first album the lyrics go: ‘Missed my connection, I’m straight for work again / Ain’t seen the sunshine since I can’t remember when / They’ll drop the atom bomb the day my ship comes in / You know I just can’t win / ’Cause that’s the bag I’m in.’

    On I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama, Janis Joplin sings in One Good Man: ‘Honey, I love to go to parties / And I like to have a good time, / But if it gets too pale after a while
    Honey / I start looking to find / One good man.’
    The more you know you know you don't know what you know

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    I have no idea who Neon Leon was, but the lyric in LLDOB is "Money - honey - be on - neon."
    I met a bloke named Leon at the Neon bar in Trenton circa NF 2002

  6. #31
    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    Speaking of Leon, there's the song "Dirty Old Man" by the Fugs. The dirty old man appears to identify himself as Leon Trotsky or at least says, "Remember Leon Trotsky." I suppose few not coming of age in the 20s through the 60s would know this Leon.
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  7. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Lopez View Post
    Speaking of Leon, there's the song "Dirty Old Man" by the Fugs. The dirty old man appears to identify himself as Leon Trotsky or at least says, "Remember Leon Trotsky." I suppose few not coming of age in the 20s through the 60s would know this Leon.
    Trotsky is also mentioned in No more heroes.

    Pudding and Gisteren is an obscure reference from Supersister.

    And how about J.O.S. days by Nits?

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by spellbound View Post


    Your Gold Teeth from Countdown To Ecstasy
    That's one of my favorite lyrics ever, and it always makes me smile, because my awareness of Berberian actually predated my love for Steely Dan. #1980svoiceperformancemajor
    David
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  9. #34
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    I'm in the UK but Wolfman Jack is in American Graffiti, of course. And Todd Rundgren also wrote a song about him. So not as obscure as some being mentioned here.

  10. #35
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    ^ I think the point is that kids today wouldn't get it. How many of today's youth have seen American Graffiti? They'd think in terms of the horror movie staple, as Wolfman Jack is not mentioned in the song. Most young people would not recognize him from the voice insertions either. Kinda makes it a "dated" song.
    He did not know that the sword he'd hold, would turn his priceless empire into fool's gold...

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  11. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by The Dark Elf View Post
    In the clear white circles of morning wonder
    I take my place with the lord of the hills
    And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured
    In neat little rows sporting canvas frills -- a reference to alleged hippies conforming in dress-style all in blue jean jackets with frills ("discoloured" refers to faded jeans)
    With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention
    While queuing for sarnies at the office canteen -- Sarnies, sub sandwiches
    Saying: "How's your granny?" and good old Ernie -- ERNIE or Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment, part of a lottery-based bond system
    He coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win -- a "tenner" is a £10 note. A "premium bond" is a lottery bond issued by the UK, refers back to ERNIE.
    You forgot Biggles. But those are cultural references - tenners, sarnies, ERNIE and Premium Bonds are still a thing in the UK.

    Genesis are a goldmine for this sort of thing. Knights of the green shield stamp and shout - Green Shield Stamps disappeared in 1991.

    However, the reference to 'Arabs and the Jews' in Blood on the Rooftops is still depressingly relevant 40-odd years later.

  12. #37
    All Things Must Pass spellbound's Avatar
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    Not only are some kids going to be puzzled by references to Wolfman Jack, but to DJs in general. How many radio stations still feature living disc jockeys spinning the tunes in real time? Who even listens to the radio anymore? Some probably think a DJ is the guy at the turntable at a party or rave, not a broadcaster. In the '70s and '80s, live bands were the entertainment at parties and nightclubs. Now (or maybe not now-I don't get out much any more) it's DJs and records. This is not to trivialize what they do. I have seen modern DJs spend much of the week preparing for a weekend gig. It's not spur of the moment, although good ones can make it appear so while they subtly manipulate the mood on the dance floor. Radio has little influence in the days of internet. I recently heard the same falsehood about a popular world music artist repeated twice in the same day on the radio. It would have taken seconds to find the truth online, but DJs apparently just read what's in front of them, with no proofreading by anyone knowledgeable. Who needs credibility? Who can blame people who never experienced a time when radio mattered and was a source of information? The times they are a-changing.

  13. #38
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Next you're going to be telling me that Jimi Hendrix didn't really sing "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" on Purple Haze. I suppose Bob Weir isn't singing "Flashing my keys down on main street" on Truckin' either, huh?
    I once played with a singer who honestly believed the CCR lyric was "There's a Bathroom on the Right." When he sang that for the first time in front of an audience, they thought he was joking and busted out laughing.

    Quote Originally Posted by spellbound View Post
    Not only are some kids going to be puzzled by references to Wolfman Jack, but to DJs in general. How many radio stations still feature living disc jockeys spinning the tunes in real time? Who even listens to the radio anymore? Some probably think a DJ is the guy at the turntable at a party or rave, not a broadcaster. In the '70s and '80s, live bands were the entertainment at parties and nightclubs. Now (or maybe not now-I don't get out much any more) it's DJs and records. This is not to trivialize what they do. I have seen modern DJs spend much of the week preparing for a weekend gig. It's not spur of the moment, although good ones can make it appear so while they subtly manipulate the mood on the dance floor. Radio has little influence in the days of internet. I recently heard the same falsehood about a popular world music artist repeated twice in the same day on the radio. It would have taken seconds to find the truth online, but DJs apparently just read what's in front of them, with no proofreading by anyone knowledgeable. Who needs credibility? Who can blame people who never experienced a time when radio mattered and was a source of information? The times they are a-changing.
    I remember the days when we could call the local FM station and request they play In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in its entirety....and they would.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

  14. #39
    All Things Must Pass spellbound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist
    I remember the days when we could call the local FM station and request they play In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in its entirety....and they would.
    I recall those days, too. Especially late at night, DJs used side-long songs (LP sides) for bathroom breaks. Before playlists and automated DJs, you could call up a station and ask about something they'd played earlier, and they'd give you as much information as they knew about the artist.

  15. #40
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spellbound View Post
    Especially late at night, DJs used side-long songs (LP sides) for bathroom breaks.
    Yeah, I remember an interview with a local DJ in the '70s where he was asked what he did if he needed to use the bathroom, and he answered "Play 'Layla'!"
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  16. #41
    Member Burley Wright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halmyre View Post
    Genesis are a goldmine for this sort of thing. Knights of the green shield stamp and shout - Green Shield Stamps disappeared in 1991.
    On We're Only In It for the Money in the song Absolutely Free Zappa sings

    "Unbind your mind, there is no time
    To lick your stamps, and paste them in"

    referring to trading stamps (such as S&H Green stamps in the U.S.) which
    were given as rewards for shopping at participating stores and could be
    accumulated and redeemed for merchandise.

  17. #42
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    One of my favorite songs is filled with old-school movie references that might not be easily recognized by the youth of today:

    She came, as in the book, Mickey Spillane
    That Saturday night dark masquerade
    Had filled his friend with lead, the same, sweetheart

    Sam Spade his buddy Archer first to go he got it-he dead
    She spelt it out, how could they know the 'Fatman' got it -he dead

    Citizen Kane came fast and quickly
    Conquerin ol' New York City
    Poking fun at superstition
    Media became television

    Give me Cagney any day
    Or Jimmy Stewart for President

    Or Edward 'G' and all those guys
    Who always shoot between the eyes

    Acting on the silver screen, oh my
    Clark Gable, Fairbanks, Maureen O'Sullivan
    Fantasy would fill my life and I
    Love fantasy so much


  18. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    I once played with a singer who honestly believed the CCR lyric was "There's a Bathroom on the Right." When he sang that for the first time in front of an audience, they thought he was joking and busted out laughing.
    Apparentlyh, when John Fogerty does that song live now, he points to the right when he gets to that line, due the ubiquity of that particular mondegren.

  19. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roth View Post
    One of my favorite songs is filled with old-school movie references that might not be easily recognized by the youth of today:

    She came, as in the book, Mickey Spillane
    That Saturday night dark masquerade
    Had filled his friend with lead, the same, sweetheart

    Sam Spade his buddy Archer first to go he got it-he dead
    She spelt it out, how could they know the 'Fatman' got it -he dead

    Citizen Kane came fast and quickly
    Conquerin ol' New York City
    Poking fun at superstition
    Media became television

    Give me Cagney any day
    Or Jimmy Stewart for President

    Or Edward 'G' and all those guys
    Who always shoot between the eyes

    Acting on the silver screen, oh my
    Clark Gable, Fairbanks, Maureen O'Sullivan
    Fantasy would fill my life and I
    Love fantasy so much
    You remind me of Bettie Davis Eyes. They don't only don't know what "She's got Bettie Davis Eyes" means, kids today probably don't even know who she was.

    Hell, you have to explain things like "Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?", "Mr. McGee, dont' make me angry, you won't like me when I'm angry" and "Shhhh, ancient Chinese secret" to them, never mind explaining 1940's Hollywood allusions.

    And I'm not joking, I actually had to explain the Ferris Bueller thing to one of the assistant managers at work (who was probably something like 26 at the time) because she didn't understand that allusion that our General Manager had used in notice he had put up about whatever.

    Course, my dad didn't understand why that Geico commercial with Peter Frampton in it was so funny, so I guess it can work both ways too.

  20. #45
    How about dated commercial jingle references? I remember “You’ll love it at Levitz!” turning up on a track from Everything Is Different Now (“Old Fish Part.....whatever”). There must be others, but they aren’t coming to mind.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  21. #46
    Member lak611's Avatar
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    "Carmelita" by Warren Zevon

    I hear Mariachi static on my radio
    And the tubes they glow in the dark

    Well, I pawned my Smith Corona
    And I went to meet my man
    He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
    By the Pioneer chicken stand

    Radios with vacuum tubes, typewriters and the Pioneer chicken chain restaurants are all things of the past.

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    Laura

  22. #47
    Member viukkis's Avatar
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    "Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999" doesn't sound as uplifting and forward-looking as it used to.

  23. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by viukkis View Post
    "Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999" doesn't sound as uplifting and forward-looking as it used to.
    That goes as well for songs about 1984.

  24. #49
    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    How about dated commercial jingle references? I remember “You’ll love it at Levitz!” turning up on a track from Everything Is Different Now (“Old Fish Part.....whatever”). There must be others, but they aren’t coming to mind.
    I went to college in the Philly area from 1971 to 1975 and used to hear that Levitz jingle on the radio all the time. If I remember correctly, Levitz was a furniture store.
    Lou

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  25. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by spellbound View Post

    I don't recall hawkers selling newspapers by shouting "Extra! Extra!" but I know they did so because I watched plenty of old movies.
    Just like the A-rabs that would go through the alleys in Baltimore City.
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