Thursday, February 19, 2009

For What It's Worth . . .

Tripp and I were chatting via GMail and I brought up a fun little notion, which he said would make a good blog post. Possibly. So anyway, I was thinking how much I enjoy those songs whose titles appear nowhere in the song. For the listener, it's great on so many levels:

1. It gives you something extra to ponder, to-wit, the meaning of the song title, and how it ties in with the lyrics.
2. It allows you to assume a position of superiority to those who aren't in the know by either (a) mocking them when they call those song by its most oft-repeated phrase (as I did as a foolish freshman pledge at my fraternity, asking the guy at the stereo to play "Rollaway"**** by the Dead); or (b) asking them to play the song when you know damned well they won't know what song you're talking about by just the title.


So, for what it's worth, my fave is "For What It's Worth," otherwise known to my wife as "Stop, Hey, What's That Sound, Everybody Look What's Going 'Round."

How was that, Tripp?

*****Technically, "Franklin's Tower" does appear in the song. So this doesn't really count, but does do an excellent job of conveying that feeling.


Tripp said...

Lovely Harris, lovely.

Hmmm. Given your two criteria, I think Dupree's Diamond Blues by the Dead wouldn't qualify, as they actually do say all the words, just not together, and you get no feeling of smugness.

Also I was going to mention Big Black's "Things to Do Today," but people will trip up on the band, not the song.

So I am going to go with Immigrant Song which is witty when you consider it.

Harris said...

Immigrant Song is wonderful. As is "Misty Mountain Hop."

Tripp said...

On the "Song" notion, the ideal is of course REM's Pop Song 89. Thinking on titles, what about songs listed as "Untitled?"

Harris said...

You mean,like the one on Green. And does "Untitled" have to be their title? Or does a numbered song count (Blur)? How about undisclosed songs at all that just appear on the CD - I think Tom Petty may have done that?

Tripp said...

Ah, on that last bit, I believe that is the Hidden track, a different phenomenon than the Untitled.

Here is Interpol's Untitled:

The REM song Blog (Pop Songs 08-09) appears to claim that the Untitled song is known as You Are the Everything.

I wonder if this is canon.

Brack said...

Interpol's Untitled is my 4 y.o.'s current fave, closely followed by NYC.

Speaking of TOTBL, does Obstacle 1 meet the Harris criterion?

Tripp said...

Hmm toughie, I think we should allow Harris to comment, but I think that it fits criterion 1, but maybe not the second as the song is best known to people who probably know the title.

Great song choice in any case.

Harris said...

I think "Obstacle 1" certainly fits criterion 1, but agree with Tripp on criterion 2. At first blush, it almost seems part of the "Pop Song 89" genre until you wonder (I guess it doesn't beg the question, right Brack?) whether an "Obstacle" is a song type, and if so what type, and whether Interpol will follow up with other "Obstacles."

Tripp - song 3 on Green is "You Are the Everything," a titled, mandolin-driven ballad. The unitled song is song 11, and I think the track listing just says 11, followed by a blank

Tripp said...

But of course it is, silly me. I always confused the two. Here is what Wiki says about the unlisted:

Track 11, while unlisted on the back cover, and unnamed on the disc, is officially entitled "The Eleventh Untitled Song." It is, however, copyrighted under the title, "11." The song is often referred to as "This World Is Big" among fans

Anonymous said...

Two nominees:

1. "Sympathy for the Devil" has to be the best example.

2. "How Soon is Now?" is a good one because he does everything but say the title. "When you say it's gonna happen now, when exactly do you mean?" My four year old channels Morrisey daily.


Tripp said...


Great call on Sympathy. That is the best so far I think.


Jennifer said...

OK. So I already told Harris this one in chat, but Spirit of Radio by Rush.

Tripp said...

Right, that one works too. Those lyrics are something else. "A companion unobtrusive." Neil Peart sure can write 'em.