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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“Close to the Edge: The Solid Time of Change” - Yes (1972)

“A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace
And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace”

Ah, prog rock. I didn’t want to pick on any one genre too much so it came down to Yes vs. King Crimson. “Pictures of a City” (“dream flesh love chase perfumed skin – greased hand teeth hide tinseled sin”) was kind of begging for inclusion. But I felt I could not leave Jon Anderson out of this discussion.

“Roundabout” was the first prog rock song I ever really fell in love with. But even as a kid, I somehow recognized that “in and around the lake – mountains come out of the sky and they stand there” was virtually meaningless. I mean, had he given the mountains some action – some movement – that might have been incongruously intriguing. But I digress. I didn’t come to talk about “Roundabout.”

In the first piece of their “Close to the Edge” suite, that opening line is average. “Depths of your disgrace” is the kind of line that could go either way. Will it lead to inventive self-reflection or to cliched wallowing? That second line offers another option. Meaningless gibberish.

In just nine words, Anderson manages two awkward and impenetrable phrases. I don’t know what “solid mental grace” is. But I suppose it is preferable to a rearranged liver, which sounds both meaningless and rather unpleasant. And to think, we waited through four minutes of musical introduction to reach these opening words.

I have read that Anderson – especially early in his career – gave little thought to the meaning of his lyrics, opting instead for words that fit his sonic landscape. I would humbly suggest that Queef Jerky is the only band I know to have made “liver” fit into a sonic landscape.

Verdict: Bad lyrics