And Great Lyrics Quiz Rock Roll The

March 21st, 2008

I saw an item today on Kyrie O’Connor’s blog at the Houston Chronicle that’s a lot of fun. Take the words of a classic rock song, put them and alphabetical order, eliminate duplicates, and then try to recognize the song. It’s harder than it sounds, but it’s fun too. Spoiler warning: if you want to play the game yourself, first go to The Morning News and play the game there, then come back here and read on. (And yes, I stole their page title for this blog post. It was just too good to pass up.)

Some songs have a real economy with words and are hard to recognize. For example, what classic song is made of these 31 words?

always at be by can’t doin’ don’t ever free girl going got i i’m know me night no now oh really see set side sleep so wanna what yeah you your

Yeah, it’s The Kinks and “You Really Got Me“. Easy right?

A key word or two can make a song easier to recognize even if the word count is short. For example, I recognized these 29 words:

a ain’t all and but caught classed cryin’ dog friend high hound just lie mine never no nothin’ of rabbit said that the they time was well when you

Hound and rabbit can only be Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog“.

Some of the giveaway words are even more distinct, but you have to hunt for them:

a albino always an and are assured at been best blessed bored bring contagious dangerous denial dirty do end entertain feel find for forget found friends fun gift group guess guitar guns hard has hello here hey how i i’m it it’s just know less libido lights little load lose low makes me mind mosquito mulatto my never no now oh our out over pretend self she’s smile solo stupid taste the this to until up us we well what whatever why will with word worse yay yeah your

Buried in those 89 words are a mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, and my libido, which grunge fans will recognize as part of the chorus to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit“. (And for that matter, I can’t think of any song that uses even one of the words mulatto, albino, mosquito, or libido. Dead giveaways, they are.)

And then there’s the songs with such vivid imagery that they’re impossible to miss, like these 178 words:

9 a all american amusement an and are at baby back be beach beyond bold bones born boulevard boys break broken but cages can ’cause chrome-wheeled comb come could ’cross day death die don’t down dream dreams drive drones drop engines everlasting everybody’s feels four friend from fuel-injected get girl girls glory go gonna gotta guard hair hands hard hemi-powered heroes hide highway highway’s how huddled i i’ll i’m if in is it it’s jammed just kids kiss know last-chance left legs let like line live lonely look love machines madness mansions me mirrors mist my n never night no of oh on one ooh out over palace park place power rap real really rearview ride rider rims rips rises road ’round run runaway sadness scared scream so someday soul sprung stark steppin’ strap streets suicide sun sweat that the their then there’s these this three through till to together tonight town tramps trap try two us velvet visions walk wanna we we’ll we’re wendy were when where while whoa wild will wire with wrap you young your

So, focus on boulevard, chrome-wheeled, engines, fuel-injected, hemi-powered, highway, rims, road, and streets. On just those words alone you should recognize Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run“. (For me the word Wendy is a giveaway too.)

Here’s another one, a bit shorter at 176 words:

a ahead air alibis all and any are at away back be beast before bell bends boys bring but california called calling calls can can’t candle captain ceiling chambers champagne checkout colitas cool corridor could courtyard dance dark desert device dim distance door doorway down face far feast find for forget friends from gathered got grew had hair haven’t he head hear heard heaven heavy hell her here highway hotel how i ice in is it just kill knives last leave light like lit livin’ lot lovely man master’s me mercedes middle mind mirrors mission my myself never nice night nine nineteen of on or our own passage pink place please plenty pretty prisoners programmed receive relax remember rising room running said saw say she shimmering showed sight since sixty smell so some spirit stab steely still stood stop such summer surprise sweat sweet that the their them then there they thing thinking this those thought through tiffany-twisted time to up voices wake warm was way we welcome were what wind wine with year you your

Hmm… alibis, california, champagne, colitas, mercedes, mirrors, and tiffany-twisted? That can only be “Hotel California” by the Eagles. (On these last two songs, it would have been a bit tougher if the puzzle author had split up the hyphenated words like chrome-wheeled and tiffany-twisted. But I think I still would have recognized them.)

Then there’s a few that are so short and devoid of key words that they’re next to impossible. Try these 32 words on for size:

and arms can’t do feel good got harm hey hold i in knew know like love me my nice no now so spice sugar that when whoa whoa-oa-oa won’t would wrong you

I suppose that if you notice “whoa-oa-oa”, you might recognize this as “I Feel Good” by the late great James Brown. But I didn’t.

And who on earth is going to recognize these 32 words?

“and as blue could crazy crying day did do feeling for hold i i’m in knew leave let lonely long love love-ing loving me my myself new oh so some some-body that the then thinking trying wanted what why wondering world worry you you’d”

That’s Patsy Cline’s “Crazy“. I doubt if even Willie Nelson, who wrote those words, would recognize them like that. I’m glad Patsy Cline didn’t sing them that way.

One Response to “And Great Lyrics Quiz Rock Roll The”

  1. LAH Says:

    You’d recognize Hotel California just from “colitas”!