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 Am the Walrus” - The Beatles (1967)

“Yellow matter custard, dripping from the dead dog’s eye”

I am a Beatles fanboy. Not the biggest Beatles fanboy, mind you. That would be my friend Jay. But I’m somewhere in the top 100,000. I have absolutely no problem with most of the more mystically -psychedelic wordplay they explored in the latter half of the 1960s. “Tomorrow Never Knows?” Neither do I, but that jumble of lyrics somehow makes sense to me. One of my favorite tracks is John’s “Cry Baby Cry,” a nursery rhyme full of nonsense that also somehow makes sense as a reference to a gothic past that we have romanticized.

But for me, this “Walrus” lyric simply crosses the line. There have been other intentionally repulsive images in rock songs that have worked, but what exactly is the intention with this one? Of course, people have been asking the same question about “Walrus” ever since it was released.

Lennon said repeatedly that there was no deep meaning. It was just a dream. Random imagery with creative musical accompaniment. That is an acceptable explanation. And it serves to exonerate a lyric like “Semolina pilchard – Climbing up the Eiffel Tower” which comes later.

Most of the lyrics in “Walrus” are of that variety. They engage vague curiosity about who the eggman is or why people seemed pissed off at Edgar Allan Poe. Custard from a dead dog’s eye is the only lyric that moves beyond that sense of curious engagement into outright emeticism. (That may not be a word, but it should be. It would mean “inducing vomiting.”)

Verdict: Bad lyrics