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

Song Lyric Sunday — Two Car Garage

This week’s theme for Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday is garage rock. Garage rock is a genre of rock that started in the late 50s and early 60s. As Jim pointed out, garage rock has a unique sound that is characterized by piano riffs that were sometimes distorted through a fuzzbox, as well as aggressive lyrics with growling vocals. The garage rock song I’m going with is “Dirty Water” by the Standells, which is now considered a classic of the garage rock genre.

“Dirty Water” was a song by the American garage rock band The Standells, written by their producer Ed Cobb. First issued in late 1965, the song reached number 11 on the Billboard singles charts in June 1966. It was the band’s first major hit single.

Cobb wrote “Dirty Water” on a visit to Boston that turned ugly. He was with a girl when two guys tried to mug them, but they ran away. Cobb said, “So when I got back to the hotel, I wrote the song.”

Standell’s drummer, Dick Dodd, who was once on The Mickey Mouse Club, handled lead vocals on this track. His spoken lines and interjections (“I’m gonna tell you a story…” “Have you heard about the Strangler?”) he made up in the studio.

The guy in the song, whose home is in Boston, is happy to live in this gritty city among the “muggers and thieves.” The line, “Frustrated women have to be in by 12 o’clock” refers to the curfew observed by Boston University co-eds at the time.

While the song was a pretty big hit when it was released in 1966, it didn’t gain its mystique until 50 years later, when the Boston professional sports teams adopted it. The Boston Red Sox baseball team was the first to use it, playing it after home wins in 1997. The Celtics basketball team and Bruins hockey team followed suit, making it the song most associated with Boston sports, and thus the city as a whole.

Interestingly, “Dirty Water” has become a Boston anthem and a source of pride for the city, but it was written and performed by guys from Los Angeles, who didn’t have any good tidings toward the city of Boston.

Here are the lyrics to “Dirty Water.”

I'm gonna tell you a story
I'm gonna tell you about my town
I'm gonna tell you a big fat story, baby
Aw, it's all about my town

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
(Aw, that's what's happenin' baby)
That's where you'll find me
Along with lovers, muggers, and thieves
(Aw, but they're cool people)

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home
(Oh, you're the number one place)

Frustrated women (I mean they're frustrated)
Have to be in by twelve o'clock (oh, that's a shame)
But I'm wishin' and a-hopin', oh
That just once those doors weren't locked
(I like to save time for my baby to walk around)

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home (oh, yeah)

Because I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home (oh, yeah)

Well, I love that dirty water (I love it, baby)
I love that dirty water (I love Boston)
I love that dirty water (Have you heard about the strangler?)
I love that dirty water (I'm the man, I'm the man)
I love that dirty water (Ow)
I love that dirty water (Come on, come on)

Song Lyric Sunday — Are You Talking To Me, Punk?

This week’s theme for Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday is punk songs. I’ve never been a fan of punk rock, so this is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone. According to Wikipedia, punk bands rejected the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock music. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often shouted political, anti-establishment lyrics.

One of the bands associated with punk is The Clash. I looked up songs by The Clash, and the only one I recognized was “Rock the Casbah.” I don’t know if that is, indeed, a punk song, but that’s what I’m going with.

“Rock the Casbah” was a song by the English punk rock band The Clash, released in 1982. It was released as the second single from their fifth album, Combat Rock. It reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S., and was the band’s only top 10 single there.

The song was composed by the band’s drummer, Topper Headon, based on a piano part that he had been toying with. Finding himself in the studio without his three bandmates, Headon progressively taped the drum, piano and bass parts, recording the bulk of the song’s musical instrumentation himself. Interestingly, Headon had been fired from the group because of drug problems by the time the song became an enormous hit in the U.S.

Headon’s original lyrics were a filthy ode to his girlfriend. Band member Joe Strummer characterized the lyrics as “really pornographic.” Strummer then rewrote the lyrics to make the song about a Middle Eastern king and the king’s efforts to enforce and justify a ban on rock music. It also focused on protests against the ban by holding rock concerts in temples and squares (“rocking the casbah”). This culminates in the king ordering his military’s fighter jets to bomb the protestors. But after taking off, the pilots ignore the king’s orders and instead play rock music on their cockpit radios, joining the protest and implying the loss of the king’s power. The lyrics were loosely based on an actual ban on Western music, including rock music, enforced in Iran since the Iranian Revolution.

When this song became a hit, Strummer considered leaving The Clash. He couldn’t justify singing rebellious songs when the band was rich and successful. In their early years, when they were struggling, their music was sincere, but he felt they were becoming a joke. The band did break up in 1985.

The U.S. military used this song as a rallying cry when they invaded Iraq in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. Strummer was irate over the song being one of the most requested on American radio because of the misunderstanding that it was anti-Iraq in sentiment.

Here are the lyrics to “Rock the Casbah.”

Now the king told the boogie men
"You have to let that raga drop"
The oil down the desert way
Has been shaken to the top
The Sheik he drove his Cadillac
He went a-cruisin' down the ville
The Muezzin was a-standin'
On the radiator grille, ow

Shareef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
The Shareef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah

By order of the Prophet
We ban that boogie sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy Casbah sound
But the Bedouin they brought out an electric camel drum
The local guitar picker got his guitar pickin' thumb
As soon as the Shareef had cleared the square
They began to wail

Shareef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
Shareef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah

Now, over at the temple
Oh, they really pack 'em in
The in-crowd say it's cool
To dig this chanting thing
But as the wind changed direction
And the temple band took five
The crowd caught a whiff
Of that crazy Casbah jive

Shareef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
Shareef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah

The king called up his jet fighters
He said, "You better earn your pay
Drop your bombs between the minarets
Down the Casbah way"
As soon as the Shareef was chauffeured outta there
The jet pilots tuned to the cockpit radio blare
Soon as the Shareef was outta their hair
The jet pilots wail

Shareef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
Shareef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah

Shareef don't like it, he thinks it's not kosher
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
Shareef don't like it, fundamentally can't take it
Rockin' the Casbah, Rock the Casbah

Shareef don't like it, you know he really hates it
Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
Shareef don't like it, really, really hates it

Song Lyric Sunday — Mersey Beat

This week’s theme for Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday is songs with a Mersey Beat, or Mersey Sound. Mersey Beat was a British popular music genre that developed, particularly in and around Liverpool, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The genre melded influences from American rock and roll, rhythm and blues, traditional pop, and music hall. It features a basic lineup of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums.

It took some time for me to decide which Mersey Beat song I wanted to go with. First I decided on the group, Gerry and the Pacemakers. The song I chose was not the obvious “Ferry Cross the Mersey.” Instead, I chose, “How Do You Do It?”

“How Do You Do It?” was the debut single by Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers. It was written by British songwriter Mitch Murray. The song was initially issued in the US and Canada in the spring of 1963, but it wasn’t until after the group had several charting singles in North America that the track was reissued in the summer of 1964. It eventually reached number nine in the U.S. and in the UK, the single reached number one on the charts, staying there for three weeks in total.

The song is about a guy who is smitten by a girl who doesn’t feel the same way about him. He asks her what the secret of her charms are, as he wants to use that to make her fall for him.

Gerry Marsden, the lead singer of the group, co-founded Gerry and the Pacemakers with his brother, the band’s drummer, Freddie. Gerry died in January 2021.

Here are the lyrics to “How Do You Do It?”

How do you do what you do to me
I wish I knew
If I knew how you do it to me, I'd do it to you
How do you do what you do to me
I'm feelin' blue
Wish I knew how you do it to me but I haven't a clue

You give me a feeling in my heart
Like an arrow passing through it
Spose that you think you're very smart
But won't you tell me how do you do it

How do you do what you do to me
If I only knew
Then perhaps you'd fall for me like I fell for you

You give me a feeling in my heart
Like an arrow passing through it
Spose that you think you're very smart
But won't you tell me how do you do it

How do you do what you do to me
If I only knew,
Then perhaps you'd fall for me like I fell for you
When I do it to you

Thursday Inspiration — Heaven’s Gate

For Jim Adams’ Thursday Inspiration prompt this week, we can use the prompt word heaven, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘Pump It Up,’ or by going with another song by Elvis Costello, or anything else that you think fits.

I think the perfect fit for both the word “heaven” and for the picture is Bob Dylan’s song, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

Dylan wrote the song for the 1973 Western film, “Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid.” It was written from the perspective of a dying sheriff and plays while Sheriff Colin Baker is dying from his gunshot wounds. The song features two short verses, the lyrics of which comment directly on the scene in the film for which it was written: the death of a frontier lawman who refers to his wife as “Mama.”Dylan cameos in the movie as the character, Alias.

The song was released as a single two months after the film’s premiere, it became a worldwide hit, reaching the Top 10 in several countries. The song became one of Dylan’s most popular and most covered.

Mama, wipe the blood off of my face
I can't see through it anymore
I need someone to talk to in a new hiding place
Feel like I'm looking at heaven's door

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can't shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is comin' down
I feel like I'm knockin' on heaven's door

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

Note: corrected lyrics.