Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To


Time again for the Best Comment Section On The Innertubes™ to weigh in. (And I mean that: you wonderful people are the opposite of the YouTube or–even worse–the comments under any article in a local newspaper’s website.) The question, as always, centers around the wild and wacky world of rocking and rolling, and it is this:

What is the best song in which the title is not in the lyrics?

Obviously, there are some rules:

  1. No Dead songs. Wharf Rat, The Other One, Weather Report Suite, The Eleven, etc.: we will take these as assumed.
  2. No instrumentals. I shouldn’t have to say that, but I feel like you are all some clever-ass motherfuckers who will think you are getting away with foolishness, and I will brook no foolishness.
  3. Classical music isn’t a song, even if it’s got lyrics. Do not be nominating the Ode To Joy or any opera bullshit.

I will start with something meatheaded and long:

An underrated deep track from the mighty Zep, Carouselambra is about something, but it is not about a carouselambra. Partially because “carouselambra” is a made-up word. What is the tune about? You tell me:

Sisters of the way-side bide their time in quiet peace
Await their place within the ring of calm
Still stand to turn in seconds of release
Await the call they know may never come
In times of lightness, no intruder dared upon
To jeopardize the course, upset the run
And all was joy and hands were raised toward the sun
As love in the halls of plenty overrun

Robert Plant’s best lyrics were the ones you couldn’t quite understand. (Led Zeppelin has a bunch of songs that would qualify: The Immigrant Song, and Achilles Last Stand, and Black Dog, and Four Sticks, and the list goes on and on.)

And here’s a little (barely over two minutes) nugget from Bruce’s first record, when he was still doing his Dylan imitation.

Okay, your turn. Whatcha got?


  1. Baba O’Reilly. Rainy Day Women #13 and #35.

  2. elderly woman behind the counter in a small town

  3. Sticking with Zeppelin – Over The Hills And Far Away…

  4. Bohemian Rhapsody is high on this list, but my vote probably goes to Smells Like Teen Spirit

  5. Bohemian Rhapsody!

    (The sound of mic dropping….even though we don’t do that anymore)

  6. How ’bout Pretzel Logic?

  7. drink all day and rock all night

    March 13, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Zep is the gift that keeps on giving … Travelling Riverside Blues! (via Robert Johnson, who of course also gave us “Walkin’ Blues,” which, uh, does have the title in the lyrics, but also some pretty good Brent solos on occasion).

  8. ReadingDoonesbury took my first thought of Rainy Day Women #12 & #35 which I now claim dominion on because I have the title correct. Just kidding it was probably a typo. Now bereft of any choice, this made me think of a couple other Dylan cuts that should fit the criteria and the train kept a rolling. Before posting this I made sure there were no doubles, so how about some more choices besides Bohemian Rhapsody & Smells Like Teen Spirit:

    Ballad of a Thin Man

    2nd Dylan Choice would be Positively 4th St,

    Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles was my second major thought. A Day in the Life would be another. Both are great lyrics that never mention their titles.

    Because YouTube takes down anything Beatles I will go more obscure with Love’s The Red Telephone. Led Zeppelin ripped them off mercilessly so I will name that one. It also has the names Bill & Phil in it. Here are the first couple of verses:

    Sitting on a hillside
    Watching all the people die
    I’ll feel much better on the other side
    I’ll thumb a ride
    I believe in magic
    Why because it is so quick
    I don’t need power when I’m hypnotized
    Look in my eyes
    What are you seeing (I see)
    How do you feel?
    I feel real phony when my name is Phil
    Or was that Bill?

    The Dead were recording their first couple of records in LA, so it would not surprising that the two rival bands ran into one another. I have been listening to this album regularly since I was 12 years old in 78 and have never once thought about the Phil & Bill line being possibly related to the Dead until this moment.

    In fact many of the songs from Love Forever Changes album have song titles that are never mentioned once in the song.

    -The Daily Planet
    -Maybe the People Would be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale
    -The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
    -Live and Let Live
    -You Set the Scene

    Even “A House is not a Motel”, “Bummer in the Summer” & “Old Man” only reference one word of the title so I guess that would disqualify them. Way better record than Sgt Pepper’s, but then again I like Their Satanic Majesties Request better. They apparently recorded it in 64 hours on 8 track in 67 with Arthur Lee singing the string & horn parts to the arranger. His weird dystopian LSD vision of LA still resonates today. This copy has been on YouTube for years and Warners seems fine with all Love material being out there as it sells their records. To me it is one of the most brilliant records ever recorded.

    Speaking of the Stones, I really tried to think of any of their songs that didn’t have the title ever mentioned it. I actually thought about this over a gravity bong hit and could only come up with Gomper from the aforementioned Their Satanic… and Memo From Turner(actually a Mick Jagger song credited as Jagger/Richards though Keith never plays on any version I know of). That would be a better challenge, Come up with a Stones song that was actually a hit that doesn’t ever mention its title in the whole song. I tried for 15 minutes and could only come up two of their more obscure songs. This seems like a great time for Memo from Turner if for nothing else the great slide guitar played by Ry Cooder. Sorry if the lyrics offend anybody, but the Stones were always a bit offensive. Certainly not as offensive as Brown Sugar, but the veiled homosexuality in Memo From Turner are really well composed for the late 60’s:

    I am writing this totally baked, but no restrictions were placed on amount of choices plus everybody just loved Bohemian Rhapsody & Smells Like Teen Spirit anyways. I always go maximal in these type of endeavors. My first Zeppelin pick would be Achilles Last Stand. I love its obscure lyrics and awesome musical composition. The meathead pick would be Trampled Under Foot mainly because I loved it as a 9 year old. It’s a great title that is never uttered one time in a 7 plus minute song:

    Black Sabbath Supernaut pretty much rules as a lyric and never mentions its title. Geezer Butler is one of the greatest unsung lyricists in my book. Kind of like Kierkegaard on coke. Though Zeppelin is obviously far more consequential, I love Sabbath way more. Paranoid would be another possibility:

    This detour in my life started out with Ballad of a Thin Man so I will end with another all time favorite Ballad that never mentions its title. Alice Cooper The Ballad of Dwight Fry The lyrics are really stupid in the most awesome way. It describes schizophrenia in such a real way…I wanna get out of here, I wanna get out of here:

  9. Mike’s Song

  10. The Ballad of John and Yoko.

  11. There is none better than “Peace Frog ” by The Doors..

  12. Train in Vain – Clash

  13. Talking Heads – Life During Wartime

    Dogs – Pink Floyd

    The Rover – Led Zeppelin

    Radiohead – National Anthem

  14. One of my fav Zep songs, The Rover

  15. The Weight.

  16. Luther Von Baconson

    March 13, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    a slight rip off of the Statler Brothers’ classic……

    “Pick it Luther”

    • Mike & Gloria Gonna Be My Name

      March 13, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      I think we already have a winner, but I’ll add some:

      “For What It’s Worth”

      “Astronomy Domine”

      “D’yer Make’r”

      You folks are right; Zep is easy, Stones are difficult. I would say “Cocksucker Blues” if “cocksucker” is a compound word distinct from “cock.” ToTD- can I get a ruling?

  17. Stunned, STUNNED this hasn’t made the list yet. The only correct answer:

    Astronomy Domine

    btw: Any Dylan song feels like cheating.

  18. Meryl Shakedown Streep

    March 13, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Suite: Judy Blues Eyes

  19. Frank Costanza

    March 13, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Queen Bitch – Bowie
    Pyramid Song – Radiohead
    Inca Roads – Zappa
    Sympathy for the Devil – Stones
    Supper’s Ready – Genesis
    Country Feedback – R.E.M.

    I would absolutely listen to that mixtape

  20. A Quick One While He’s Away

  21. Astral Weeks

  22. Mod Lang by Big Star
    Maybe not the best but effin great and needs to be heard

  23. SmokingLeather

    March 16, 2018 at 2:05 am

    Space Oddity

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