Eight classic rock songs with problematic lyrics

Do these classic rock songs have great lyrics or not?
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin / Michael Putland/GettyImages
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I wanted to title this piece “Tomato Plus Lime Equals Mustard.” Tell me the truth – would you have stopped to click on something like that? You see, we think a lot here about what to entitle our posts, striving to be both honest and catchy. We hope whatever we choose will capture your interest for a little while.

I eventually decided “Tomato Plus Lime Equals Mustard” would not do that, so you get the title you see above. But I’m still just a wee bit torn about this. You see, “Tomato Plus Lime Equals Mustard” may sound nonsensical when you first see it.

But if you frequent webpages devoted to the mixing of colors, which for some unknown reason I do, then it makes perfect sense. Because if you take a dollop of tomato red paint and blend it together with another dollop of lime green, guess what you get? That’s right. A lovely mustard brown.

These rock songs have problematic lyrics

See, it’s all about context. With that in mind, let’s check out some classic song lyrics and ask ourselves, are they just plain stupid, as they may appear at first blush? Or do they genuinely convey a deeper meaning in some sort of ineffably poetic manner?

I’ll warn you upfront – you may not agree with my opinion. It has been known to happen before. Sometimes many times in a single conversation. But I’ll give it to you nonetheless, with a brief attempt at explaining the origin of that opinion.

For instance, were I to choose something simple – oh, I don’t know – let’s just say something like this:

“Someone left a cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake
And I’ll never have that recipe again”

Now I ask you, is that a good lyric or a bad lyric? The song is “MacArthur Park.” It was written by Jimmy Webb. The same Jimmy Webb who wrote “Wichita Lineman,” one of the most achingly beautiful songs in all of country music, along with dozens of other excellent songs.

“Macarthur Park” is not one of them. That chorus is inane. There’s nothing wrong with using baked goods as metaphors, but the execution here is utterly trite. I mean, who exactly left the cake out there in the rain when we are led to believe, the cake was a creation of the narrator himself?

And, come on – I know he’s saying he won’t have the recipe again in reference to the “ingredients” required for a love affair, but, it’s a freakin’ cake. Duncan Hines introduced cake mix in a box back in 1951. Webb wrote the song in 1968. He could have baked another cake. Or come up with a better metaphor.

OK – that’s just an example. Now we begin. Here are eight other song lyrics that strive toward poetry and achieve…. Let’s find out, shall we?