Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Songs Without the Title in the Lyrics
September 24, 2008 8:00 AM   Subscribe

What songs don't have the title in the lyrics?

The conversation started when a friend of mine and I couldn't come up with the name of the song with the following lyric:

I'm not sick, but I'm not well
and I'm so hot cause I'm in Hell

The song is Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger, but you won't find those two words in the lyrics. What other songs are like this?
posted by AloneOssifer to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are about 200,000,000 of these, but near the top famous-wise would be Baba O'Riley.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:07 AM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


We can start listing them, but be warned: This isn't rare, or even uncommon.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:07 AM on September 24, 2008


Agreed with above. Curiously though there are some songs that take on completely different meanings when you do finally learn their title, as evidenced not-too-long ago on the blue.
posted by bookwo3107 at 8:11 AM on September 24, 2008


Well, in honor of today's anniversary of the Nevermind release, let's at least list Smells Like Teen Spirit and Territorial Pissings.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:15 AM on September 24, 2008


John Cage's 4'33 comes to mind.
posted by trondant at 8:19 AM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not trying to be an ass, but if you were having any sort of competition to see who could come up with the most than any instrumental would work.

And to give you something more concrete, Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite. It talks about him, it says that this is a benefit for Mr. Kite, but that exact phrasing is never used.
posted by theichibun at 8:22 AM on September 24, 2008


The Clash, Train in Vain
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:24 AM on September 24, 2008


You're either going to see a butt/boat load of answers here, or very few, because there are such a staggering number out there. I suspect the former, given that people seem to music threads with a seemingly infinite number of correct responses.

Flagpole Sitta isn't even a pure entry in the category you're requesting, because they actually do reference the title in the lyrics:

Fingertips have memories
Mine can't forget the curves of your body
And when i feel a bit naughty
I run it up the flagpole and see who salutes
(But no one ever does)

This falls more into the category of songs where the title is (almost) in the lyrics, but isn't central to the chorus. "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters is another good example of this.

Just so I am actually answering the question: "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:26 AM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I never thought of 4'33" as a song, though. More of an unstrumental.
posted by flabdablet at 8:30 AM on September 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm listening to "Australia" by the Shins right now, so I will say: many Shins songs.
posted by emyd at 8:32 AM on September 24, 2008


I'll take any excuse I can get to mention Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby by The Islands. Thanks for providing another such excuse.

Seriously, though, there are a couple gajillion examples of what you're asking for.
posted by owtytrof at 8:32 AM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like others have said, where do you want to start?

Probably Most Obvious - 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen. Personal Favorite - 'Shut Up' by Madness
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:36 AM on September 24, 2008


Pretty big list at Am I Right. You navigate using the letters towards the bottom.
posted by lore at 8:36 AM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bohemian Rhapsody
posted by JaredSeth at 8:38 AM on September 24, 2008


Damn you, symmetry!
posted by JaredSeth at 8:38 AM on September 24, 2008


I personally like the Gorilaz's Clint Eastwood.
posted by mmascolino at 8:41 AM on September 24, 2008


Sympathy for the Devil.

And as everyone said, like a million others.
posted by peep at 8:43 AM on September 24, 2008


The Toadies - Possum Kingdom
posted by bitterkitten at 8:48 AM on September 24, 2008


As everyone has said, there are tons of examples.

One specific example of a band that purposely does this a lot is Liars. Especially on their first album, they made up weird long titles that did not match any of the lyrics in the songs.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:55 AM on September 24, 2008


Instrumentals and 4'33" aren't songs.

"Weighty Ghost" by Wintersleep.
"Snowstorm" by Wintersleep.
"Orca" by Wintersleep.
posted by kidbritish at 8:57 AM on September 24, 2008


I have many in my collection, but by far the most amusing/perplexing one is:

Detlef Schrempf by Band of Horses (slyt)
posted by lovermont at 9:02 AM on September 24, 2008


Almost every song from the past few Of Montreal albums.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:04 AM on September 24, 2008


About 5 billion of Radiohead's songs are like this (Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box, Pyramid Song, Subterranean Homesick Alien.)

As mentioned above, Of Montreal are the masters of this.
posted by Windigo at 9:14 AM on September 24, 2008


Blur "Song 2".
posted by iviken at 9:21 AM on September 24, 2008


As well as Immigrant Song and Pyramid Song just about any song with Song in the title. Except Redemption Song. And The Weeping Song. And, oh never mind. Song 2 works though.

Makers of electronic music love to have long, unrelated names for their songs. A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld by The Orb, for example. Now someone is going to tell me that these aren't songs but tunes...
posted by ninebelow at 9:26 AM on September 24, 2008


Some more obvious examples:
"Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town" and "Yellow Ledbetter" by Pearl Jam
posted by jozxyqk at 9:30 AM on September 24, 2008


Sub-question: what's the earliest example? There are two on the Beatles' Revolver (1966): Love You To and Tomorrow Never Knows.

Primitive Radio Gods - Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand

Seconding that instrumentals aren't technically "songs" so they don't count.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:32 AM on September 24, 2008


SWALABR by The Doors.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:37 AM on September 24, 2008


Most of The Olivia Tremor Control's songs don't have the title in the lyrics, but the title is usually a lyric found in another song, which I think is insanely cool.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:45 AM on September 24, 2008


"Letter to a John" by Ani DiFranco

"Song for the Dumped" by Ben Folds
posted by kristi at 9:51 AM on September 24, 2008


A couple of moldy oldies...

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 - Bob Dylan
For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield
posted by nonliteral at 9:59 AM on September 24, 2008


"Fourteen Black Paintings" by Peter Gabriel.
"Duchess" by Genesis.
"Bad" by U2.
"Good Riddance" by Green Day.*

* They didn't start calling it "Time Of Your Life" until everyone in the world started looking for it under that name to make their graduation-party mix tapes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:05 AM on September 24, 2008


Off the top of my head:
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:08 AM on September 24, 2008


Sub-question: what's the earliest example?

Are we sticking to pop music only? Though I loves me some Revolver, there are Christmas carols predating the Beatles by decades ("The Little Drummer Boy") or centuries ("The Twelve Days of Christmas"). Adding folk music means you can get upwards of half a millenium on this without trying ("King Henry V's Conquest of France")
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:24 AM on September 24, 2008


OK, this song is like "Flagpole Sitta" even more than just the title element...it actually has the following lyric in it:

I'm not sick, but I'm not well
And I'm so hot, 'cause I'm in hell

I'm just sayin'...
posted by Exchequer at 10:27 AM on September 24, 2008


SWALABR by The Doors

SWALABR by Cream.
posted by philip-random at 10:39 AM on September 24, 2008


On preview (pedant alert): yes, S.W.L.A.B.R. is a Cream song, not a Doors song, and it's actually spelled "S.W.L.A.B.R." The song title is referred to in the lyrics somewhat (since it stands for "She walks like a bearded rainbow" [supposed explanation]).

Guided By Voices did it a lot as well: A Salty Salute, (I Wanna Be A) Dumbcharger, The Ugly Vision, A Good Flying Bird, Cigarette Tricks, Pimple Zoo -- and that's just within the first 11 tracks of Alien Lanes. (Robert Pollard is probably still doing it...)
posted by gohlkus at 10:44 AM on September 24, 2008


At least 3/4 of New Order, especially pre-Republic.
posted by fidelity at 10:52 AM on September 24, 2008


OK, this song is like "Flagpole Sitta" even more than just the title element...

Exchequer, I will grant that it's possible you may not know that "Weird Al" Yankovic has arranged polka medleys of snippets of popular songs for, oh, the last 25 years or so.
posted by gohlkus at 10:55 AM on September 24, 2008


It's easier to think of songs like this if you choose an artist and go through their discography.

Stone Temple Pilots:
Big Empty
Plush
Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart
Interstate Love Song
Sex Type Thing
Black Again
Bi-Polar Bear
Transmissions from a Lonely Room
A Song for Sleeping
Heaven & Hot Rods
Pruno
MC5
Atlanta
Ride the Cliche
Kitchenware & Candybars

Results not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
posted by iguanapolitico at 11:11 AM on September 24, 2008


Johnny Assay, El Scorcho does contain those words not as sung lyrics per se but words spoken in the background, a few seconds into the track. So.. that's grey area. :)

What came to my mind: Pretty much everything except "Alligator" on the Grateful Dead's Anthem of the Sun album, as well as their song "The Eleven" which is so-named for its meter.
posted by knile at 11:44 AM on September 24, 2008


"Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls. Title was chosen TOTALLY at random, from what I recall.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:58 AM on September 24, 2008


Just because I like the title so much I have to add "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict."
posted by TedW at 12:01 PM on September 24, 2008


There used to a Wikipedia article entitled List of songs whose title does not appear in the lyrics but it was deleted last year. Here's a mirror.
posted by kyten at 12:02 PM on September 24, 2008


gohlkus, I thought since the "what songs don't have the title in the lyrics" vein was so open-ended, I'd take a stab at the "what other songs are like this (Flagpole Sitta)" question.

Actually, Polka Power! fits both, or is it not really a song?
posted by Exchequer at 12:02 PM on September 24, 2008


A few off the top of my head...

- Fairytale of New York
- Good Riddance by Green Day (commonly known as "Time of Your Life", which means it's normally appended to the title in brackets)
- Song 2 by Blur
posted by saintsguy at 12:04 PM on September 24, 2008


Gravity Rides Everything- Modest Mouse
posted by boyinmiami at 12:06 PM on September 24, 2008


"Everlong" by the Foo Fighters is another good example of this.

Isn't 'everlong' one of the first words in the song?
posted by Adam_S at 12:19 PM on September 24, 2008


Paranoid Android — Radiohead

Although it's worth noting that the robotic voice in the background of the verses is saying "I may be paranoid, but not an android"
posted by Adam_S at 12:21 PM on September 24, 2008


"Colony of Birchmen" by Mastodon, and about 7.2 million other shitty metal songs.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 12:29 PM on September 24, 2008


This was a Casey Kasem trivia question many moons ago that I have never managed to dislodge from my memory: "Young Turks" by Rod Stewart.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:32 PM on September 24, 2008


Song for Guy - Elton John
posted by jontyjago at 12:35 PM on September 24, 2008


Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers..
posted by TheOtherGuy at 12:56 PM on September 24, 2008


This is very common in hardcore; almost an art form in itself. Just look at anything by Norma Jean or The Chariot.

One album by The Chariot -
1. Before There Was Atlanta, There Was Douglasville
2. Someday, in the Event That Mankind Actually Figures Out What it is That This World Revolves Around, Thousands of People are Going to Be Shocked and Perplexed to Find Out it Was Not Them. Sometimes, This Includes Me.
3. Dialogue With a Question Mark
4. Die Interviewer (I am Only Speaking in German)
5. And Then, Came Then
6. The Company, the Comfort, the Grave
7. The Bullet Never Lies, and Time Will Prove All Things (An Allegory of Unfaithful Jerusalem)
8. Yellow Dress: Locked Knees
9. If Wishes Were Horses, More Beggars Would Ride Them
10. Good Night My Lady, and a Forever Farewell

One album by Norma Jean -
1. The Entire World Is Counting on Me, and They Don't Even Know It
2. Face:Face
3. Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste
4. Creating Something Out of Nothing, Only to Destroy It
5. Pretty Soon, I Don't Know What, but Something is Going to Happen
6. The Shotgun Message
7. Sometimes It's Our Mistakes That Make for the Greatest Ideas
8. I Used to Hate Cell Phones but Now I Hate Car Accidents
9. It Was As If the Dead Man Stood Upon the Air
10. The Human Face, Divine
11. Organized Beyond Recognition
posted by relucent at 1:23 PM on September 24, 2008


"Everlong" by the Foo Fighters is another good example of this.

Isn't 'everlong' one of the first words in the song?


Yes. From the original quote:

This falls more into the category of songs where the title is (almost) in the lyrics, but isn't central to the chorus. "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters is another good example of this.

As this question/answer session progresses, that's the topic I find myself more interested in. What songs have non-chorus words as their title? Alas, that question is for another day.
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:45 PM on September 24, 2008


Pretty much every Panic At The Disco song, at least that I can think of
posted by narrativium at 6:03 PM on September 24, 2008


Underwater Still Life in Motion With Ritual Dagger and Cloud.

It's by me, from this album.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:19 PM on September 24, 2008


Suzanne Vega, "Tom's Diner"
R.E.M., "9-9"
posted by kirkaracha at 10:35 PM on September 24, 2008


I dunno if the vast majority of them do it, but the few emo (or quasi-emo) bands I'm sort of familiar with have a propensity for giving completely non-sequitur titles to their songs (including Panic at the Disco). Other than the obvious unwieldiness of some of them, it kinda makes it hard to remember what song is called what. Eg, Fall Out Boy's "Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued."

Ever after countless listens to one of my favorite albums, New Order's best of compilation, I'm still not sure what some of the titles are. Please, musicians of the world, simple and relevant titles are good titles! Save your creativity for the lyrics.

"Everlong" is an interesting example of titles that don't come from the chorus (not to mention my favorite song ever). Then there's something like the Beatles' "If I Fell," which is the shortening of the lyric "If I Fell in Love with You." Which I guess easily could've been the title instead (and looking at the lyrics now, I never realized it makes up only the first and last lines of the song). And there's a big difference between falling in love... and falling.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:39 PM on September 24, 2008


Then there's also Pink Floyd's "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 AM on September 25, 2008


« Older Need help getting Brother MFC-...   |  Stupidly simple math question.... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.