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Great Songs with Great Puns
August 10, 2014 6:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm making a playlist of great songs that include great puns and I need help!

These are songs that are not intentionally funny (except for the pun), making the pun a bit unexpected and surprising, something you might only catch if you were listening closely to the lyrics. Both the song and the pun have to be good: so high quality music. (I'm not looking for Weird Al, parody songs, or forgettable stuff.)

Here's an example:

From Neil Young's "Ambulance Blues"--
Oh, Mother Goose,
she's on the skids
Shoe ain't happy,
neither are the kids.
She needs someone
that she can scream at
And I'm such a heel
for makin' her feel so bad.
posted by sallybrown to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Elvis Costello has a lot of these.
posted by Mchelly at 6:23 PM on August 10


Likely not the style you're looking for, but I still like this line from Drake's "What's my name": "the square root of 69 is 8 something"

Anything for numeracy.
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:29 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Benny Bell's Shaving Cream from 1946. maybe not great, but I like it.
posted by rudd135 at 6:32 PM on August 10


Rosie by Jackson Browne

Chorus:
But Rosie, you're all right
You wear my ring
When you hold me tight
Rosie, that's my thing
When you turn out the light
I've got to hand it to me
Looks like it's me and you again tonight, Rosie


When I first heard it I thought that "Rosie" was his girl, but later learned, Rosie is his hand and he's singing about jerking off.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:42 PM on August 10


If I Had A Million Dollars by the Barenaked Ladies

And if I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
Well, I'd buy you some art
A Picasso or a Garfunkel


(The pun being, of course, that Art Garfunkel is a person.)
posted by mekily at 7:59 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


There's a band I love, The Lucksmiths, that have a bunch of these. Although, maybe they aren't quite puns?

Some lines I like from The Art of Cooking For Two:
We've eaten and eaten
Until it hurts
Given a whole new meaning
To just desserts
I've got my suspicions
That the pudding's where the proof is
And you know how sweet my tooth is
And the chorus from Beer Nut:
There's many a slip between lager and lip
Conversation gets average and mean
Half asleep and seeing double
It's time for me to leave
Then there's Rue Something, both about regret and a street in France.
posted by maryr at 8:04 PM on August 10


(You don't really want Rue Something for this, it's heartbreaking, but it's a damn good title.)
posted by maryr at 8:10 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


If you have a reasonably strong stomach, Frank Zappa's lyrics are full of this kind of stuff. (From "Jewish Princess": "Lonely inside? Well, she can swallow my pride.")

I've always liked the line "We're all here 'cause we're not all there", from Aerosmith's "Fever".
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 8:59 PM on August 10


Wet Dream is full of them. Dr. Demento to the rescue.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:26 AM on August 11


I'm not sure if the music is good enough for you. Give it a listen.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:31 AM on August 11


Ben Sidran's Back Nine is the only song I know that mixes puns from the worlds of Jazz and Golf.
posted by rongorongo at 12:55 AM on August 11


2nding Elvis Costello (very complete songs wiki with lyrics) he does this in so many songs.

"Cos the high heel he used to be has been ground down
and he listens for the footsteps as they follow him around" - Man Out of Time

Perhaps the song 'High Fidelity' is one his best examples of an extended pun/metaphor:
"Even though you're nowhere near me
And I know you kiss him so sincerely now
Even though the signal's indistinct
And you worry what silly people think
Who just can't wait to feel so frozen out
I bet he thinks that he was chosen out of millions
I suppose he'll never know about"

Also:
"The long arm of the law slides up the outskirts of town
...
The right to work is traded in for the right to refuse admission
Don't pass out now, there's no refund
Did you find out what you were missing
The crowd is taking forty winks minus ten percent
You barely get required sleep to go lingering with contemptment" - Clubland

"You were the spice of life
The gin in my vermouth
And though the sparks would fly
I thought our love was fireproof
Sometimes we'd fight in public darling
With very little cause
But different kinds of sparks would fly
When we got on our own behind closed doors" - Indoor Fireworks

"Hear silver trumpets will trill
In the Arabic streets of Seville
Oranges roll in the gutter
And you pick them up
And pull back the skin
To the red fruit within

But the flavour is...
Tart
Is it something you crave?
And you say that you only feel bitterness
When you know it's a lie" - Tart
posted by Joeruckus at 2:08 AM on August 11


Not a funny example, but I've always found Adele's Someone Like You to contain some intriguing wordplay. Is she conveying a wistful sense of regret, tinged with hope, when she says "Never mind I'll find someone like you" to mean she'll eventually move on to another lover? Or does she callously dismiss her former lover as ordinary by implying that it would be easy to find someone like them?

Bonus points should be awarded for the line "You know how the time flies" to remind us of "Time flies like an arrow"; another sentence with dual meanings.
posted by El_Marto at 4:45 AM on August 11


BNL also has Pinch Me:
I could hide out under there...
I just made you say "underwear"

posted by soelo at 8:03 AM on August 11


There's a fair amount of wordplay/puns in NOFX lyrics.

For example, Leaving Jesusland includes:

They got a mandate, they don't want man-dates
They've got so many hates and people to despise
...
No longer svelte, they gotta punch new holes in the Bible belt
They've blown out the fire under the melting pot,
the red blood of America is starting to clot
posted by Twicketface at 12:15 PM on August 11


George Hrab is very punny, and deserves much more fame. B3
posted by ambulocetus at 3:40 PM on August 11


Thanks all! If anyone else is looking, I find John Prine does this a lot.

And I'll never hear "Rosie" the same way again...
posted by sallybrown at 4:00 PM on August 11


"She Doesn't Work Here" by the under-heard The Balancing Act has two in the first verse:

There was a girl behind the counter
Who would give away her smile
Your could stand and watch her from the stationery aisle
I found myself returning every day after awhile
For the comfort that I knew would be in store

posted by Karlos the Jackal at 12:45 AM on August 12


The Old 97s' Barrier Reef contains numerous puns.
posted by ITheCosmos at 4:59 PM on August 22


I don't know if it's technically a pun, but I think this line from Aimee Mann's* The Fall of the World's Own Optimist is an incredibly clever bit of word play:

Well, I could have objections
Which you could override
But what's the point
We're only flogging the horse
When the horseman has up and died


It's just such an action-packed couplet, starting with the breaking of the listener's expectations ("wait, shouldn't that be over-ruled?", and then explaining the dissonance disappointingly for a split second ("oh, she just needed to force a rhyme...") with a second half that finally makes you go back to the beginning and re-evaluate whole thing, with override now having two meanings.

I can see how people could find it a bit too precious and self-aware, but it always impresses me for some reason. If you like it, this kind of thing is pretty common in Aimee Mann's work. Ted Leo (and the previously multi-recommended Elvis Costello) are my other go-to artists when I'm in the mood for this sort of thing.


*to give full credit, the original version of the song was co-written with Elvis Costello, although it lacked this particular verse.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:11 PM on August 30


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