Rock music has produced its fair share of deathless poetry — precious little of which features in Crap Lyrics, a book by British writer Johnny Sharp. As the tome’s title suggests, Crap Lyrics finds Sharp humorously taking apart various songs for their lyrical inadequacies. Thus, Culture Club’s “The War Song” (Sample lyric: “War, war is stupid/And people are stupid/And love means nothing in some strange quarters”) is rightly hailed by Sharp as “political pop boiled down to its supremely banal bones.” He also derides The Police’s Lolita-referencing “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” as a song that betrays Sting’s “utter determination to tell the world that he has read some clever books.” And he predictably, but no less winningly, takes Jennifer Lopez to task for “Jenny From the Block.”
I’m going to take exception to some of his choices. Yes, Bob Dylan’s co-penned “Hurricane” contains possibly rock’s most tortured rhyme (“We’re gonna put his a– in stir/We’re going to pin this triple mur…/…der on him, he ain’t no gentleman Jim!”). But no one’s going to convince me that there’s much wrong with his “Ballad of A Thin Man.” Critiquing “Ebony and Ivory,” meanwhile, just seems overly mean-spirited, even by this book’s standards. (It should also be noted that this is a very U.K.-oriented work which covers egregious numbers by such fairly-unknown-here artists as PJ & Duncan and The Fall.)
Remind yourself of both “The War Song” and “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” below, and tell us if you agree with Sharp’s assessment. Or weigh in with your own favorite “crap” lyrics!