Song Lyric Sunday — Paisley Underground

This week’s theme for Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday is Paisley Underground, yet another genre of music I have no familiarity with, at least by that designation. So, once again, everything I know about Paisley Underground music is what I learned on Google. According to an article in the Guardian, “Back in the early 80s, Los Angeles saw a sudden spurt of young bands all influenced by the psychedelia of the late 60s, and all taking different elements of it. The result was bands that all sounded different, but all of a piece – from the intense, droning, tough Velvetsy rock of the Dream Syndicate, to the sunshiney Beatles pop of the Bangles, to the Byrds-indebted Long Ryders.

As I looked at the different groups that are categorized as Paisley Underground, the only one I’d ever even heard of was The Bangles. And of their recordings, the only one that sounded even vaguely familiar was “Walk Like an Egyptian.”

“Walk Like an Egyptian” was recorded by the The Bangles. It was released in 1986 as the third single from the album Different Light. It was the band’s first number one single, and became Billboard’s number-one song of 1987. The song was written by Liam Sternberg, who said he got the idea when he was on a ferry boat and saw people struggling to keep their balance. The way they held out their arms and jerked around reminded Sternberg of the depiction of human figures in ancient Egyptian tomb paintings. Their movements made it look like they were doing Egyptian poses, and if the boat moved suddenly, they would all topple over.

“Walk Like An Egyptian” gave The Bangles a new level of notoriety, but not the kind they wanted. Formed in 1981, they wrote their own songs and were a big part of the Los Angeles Paisley Underground movement. The band quickly became recognized for their ‘60s sound with lots of clever, well-constructed songs written by their guitarists, Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson.

But then “Walk Like an Egyptian,” a goofy romp written by an outsider that the band didn’t think would get released as a single because it was “too weird,” was released, shot to the top of the charts, and became a sensation. And the group’s rock pedigree took a hit. Suddenly they were known for this quasi-novelty song instead of their own compositions.

Here are the lyrics to “Walk Like an Egyptian.”

All the old paintings on the tombs
They do the sand dance don't you know
If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
They're falling down like a domino

All the bazaar men by the Nile
They got the money on a bet
Gold crocodiles (oh whey oh)
They snap their teeth on your cigarette

Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian

Blond waitresses take their trays
They spin around and they cross the floor
They've got the moves (oh whey oh)
You drop your drink and they give you more

All the school kids so sick of books
They like the punk and the metal band
When the buzzer rings (oh whey oh)
They're walking like an Egyptian

All the kids in the marketplace say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian

Slide your feet up the street bend your back
Shift your arm then you pull it back
Life is hard you know (oh whey oh)
So strike a pose on a Cadillac

If you want to find all the cops
They're hanging out in the donut shop
They sing and dance (oh whey oh)
Spin the clubs cruise down the block

All the Japanese with their yen
The party boys call the Kremlin
And the Chinese know (oh whey oh)
They walk the line like Egyptian

All the cops in the donut shop say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian
Walk like an Egyptian

9 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Paisley Underground

  1. Irene January 8, 2023 / 3:30 am

    I loved the Bangles back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 8, 2023 / 10:12 am

      Other than this song, I wasn’t really familiar with this band.


  2. Maggie January 8, 2023 / 5:43 am

    My daughter and her friends did a pantomime of this song in grade school. I always liked the catchy best and lyrics. I had never heard of the origin of the song so thanks for sharing the backstory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newepicauthor January 8, 2023 / 6:36 am

    Fame comes with a price, you get the financial benefits but if that comes at the price of selling your soul, will you be happy in the end. I love this song, especially the “Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh” part of it. Thanks for joining in again Fandango.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango January 8, 2023 / 10:55 am

      The only one I’ve heard of.


      • pensitivity101 January 8, 2023 / 11:45 am

        They had a few other hits, but this is probably their biggest and most familiar. I had to pass this week.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nope, Not Pam January 8, 2023 / 3:07 pm

    Great choice 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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