Before I poke fun at any song titles, I should stress that I have vast respect for the artists in question. They, and thousands of other metallists like them, have enriched my existence immeasurably and continue to do so. Below is a list of metal songs with titles so unmetallic that they beggar belief. In true metal form, the list goes up to 11…
1. Saxon – Standing in a Queue
No one likes standing in a queue. If the folk in front have juicy-looking arses it lifts the dullness somewhat, but there are always more productive things one could be doing. My guess is that Biff Byford, he of the vocal chords that must surely be polished silver, was stuck in a particularly slow-moving queue one day, probably behind a bunch of folk with skinny backsides. With a long wait looming and the usual arsegazing pastime out of the question, Biff snapped. Raging at the time lost standing in line, Saxon’s helmsman thought, Eh oop, I’m goin’ t’ put a stop t’ queues…by writin’ a song about t’ futility of queuing. Whether he did so with tongue in cheek is anyone’s guess.
I’m standing in a queue.
I don’t know what to do.
I haven’t got a clue
Why I’m standing in a queue.
2. The Darkness – English Country Garden
A metal variation of a traditional folk song I learned in primary one (and soon bastardised in the playground). Here’s the first verse of the original song.
How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know.
Those that we miss you’ll surely pardon.
Daffodils, heart’s ease and phlox,
Meadowsweet and lady smocks,
Gentian, lupin and tall hollyhocks,
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots
In an English country garden.
In the school playground, my friends and I were soon singing an adapted version with rather different lyrics.
What do ye do when ye cannae find the loo in an English country garden?
Pull doon yer pants and fertilise the plants in an English country garden.
Then ye take a leaf and wipe it underneath in an English country garden.
Keeching is fun underneath a blazing sun in an English country garden.
We added countless rhyming lines to that song: some crude, some awful, some genius.
Now to The Darkness’s adaptation. The title has no metal credibility whatsoever. The Darkness don’t care about that, though. They balance humour, poignance and excellent delivery, ever playful but never quite parody. Their lyrics in this track are – at points – classic. Check out this for an example.
When I saw her pushing that wheelbarrow,
She said, “Have you got a match?”
And I said, “Yes – my cock and Farmer Giles’s prize marrow!”
Full of fun and frolics. To be a true metal version, however, it’d need to tweak the title to something like Carpathian Ruin at Dusk.
3. AC/DC – House of Jazz
Jazz has no place in metal (with the possible exception of Spinal Tap’s Jazz Odyssey, but that’s another story). AC/DC would have been better to call a spade a spade: House of Whores. Or, if they wanted to put a Scottish slant on that and boost its metallic quotient, Hoose of Hoochies (They’ll Suck You Dry for the Price of a Pie).
4. Rainbow – The Shed
I like my sheds, both of them. The larger one contains an ever-present supply of Polyfilla and other invaluable substances, all of which are guarded by a large ginger cat who sprawls on the roof during daylight hours. Although I might write a track called Guardian of the Polyfilla or Orange Hairy Gargoyle about this situation, I wouldn’t consider titling a metal song The Shed. No matter how impressive Ritchie Blackmore’s shed was circa 1980, he must have been having one of his wired-to-the-Moon days (does he have any other type?) when he named a song after it. And if his shed really was that special, why isn’t it mentioned in the song? Doubly puzzling, but – as with all things Blackmore – earthly logic needn’t apply.
5. Hardcore Superstar – Why Don’t You Love Me like Before
Do I need to explain? Really? It isn’t the missing question mark that offends me most (although I’m not happy about it). Why Don’t You Love Me like Before is a synonym for I’m a Self-pitying Whiner Who’s Feeling Sorry for Himself – an unacceptable attitude for a metallist. If she doesn’t love you like before, instead of moaning about it in a ballad, ditch the bitch. Then find a better, filthier woman and write a song about her prowess as a fellatress. That’d be the metal thing to do.
6. Motörhead – Joy of Labour
The song’s lyrics are dark and devilish, its title ironic. Nonetheless, the title makes me think of Mother Mary giving birth to the baby Jesus in a manger, smile on her face, halo glowing around her head, while a baffled Joseph looks on wondering, ‘How did he get in there?’
7. Eternal Tears of Sorrow – Tar of Chaos
Conjures up images of demons dressed in high-visibility yellow jackets and hardhats drinking tea from flasks by a roadside while a steamroller flattens glutinous tar next to a sign that reads Chaos 1 Mile. Not a bad vision, just not a metal one.
8. Bigelf – Counting Sheep
Shagging Sheep would be a metallic title, as would Throwing Sheep at Satan. ‘Nuff said.
9. Halford – The Mower
The Metal God has created some enduring characters: The Metallion; The Painkiller; The Ripper; The Sentinel; The Hellion. Those visceral beasts are mythic and magical to metallists. The Mower, on the other hand, makes me think of an orange Flymo trimming my wee ma’s lawn on a summer’s day. A quaint image but not a metal one.
10. Ozzy Osbourne – Civilize the Universe
As if the world needed any more evidence that Oz has become Americanised, he removes all doubt by using the ‘z’ spelling (civilize) rather than the English ‘s’ one (civilise). That’s his prerogative, but stop a moment to reflect on the song title and its intention. Keep in mind that this is the same Ozzy who bit the head off live doves (a stunt for which I’d have snapped him in two); he was supposed to set the doves free from their cage after signing a solo record deal with Jet Records: a symbolic celebration of his freedom from Black Sabbath. This is the same man who bit the head off a bat thrown onstage by a fan (although, admittedly, Oz thought that one was a rubber toy). It’s also the same man whose drunken, drug-fuelled debauchery has become legend. I have immense admiration for Oz as a musical artist, even though he’s a compassionless mentaloid where animals are involved. Were I to list the least civilised folk who spring to mind, he’d be near the top. There’s unintentional irony in the lyrics of Civilize the Universe, which plead for peace (an admirable sentiment) but also lambast hypocrisy and implore us to be civilised (this from the man who, in his recent autobiography, claimed that he enjoyed his job at a slaughterhouse). So an individual who gained pleasure from killing beautiful sentient beings then wrote a song begging folk to be more civilised. That’s like a porn actress writing an anti-fucking anthem. Put the hypocrisy to one side, though, and consider the title; heavy metal was never meant to be civilised. Desecrate the Universe would be a good death-metal title. Defecate a Universe would make an excellent black-metal title. Diary of a Madman – that was a perfect metal title from Oz, and one without a glimmer of hypocrisy.
11. UFO – Dance Your Life Away
Strange left-field subject matter for a UFO song: a man and woman who take part in foxtrot competitions. I put the whole thing down to the gargantuan amounts of drugs Moggy and co were doing at the time. The idea probably felt like an epiphany. I’d love to have witnessed the conversation that led to this track’s creation. It must have been more Spinal Tap than Spinal Tap.
That’s it for now. Watch this space for my next all-the-way-to-eleven list: Album Covers That Changed My Life (complete with lovely full-colour pictures).
Don’t say I’m not good to you.
Until then, keep your heads in the clouds and your feet on the ground.