by carl wilson

Famous Songs Rewritten as Limericks

Tickled by the link Bookninja (and Boing Boing) posted this morning to "Famous Poems Rewritten as Limericks," I realized you could do the same with songs, so I whipped up the two examples below. They both kinda make the same joke, but I didn't try very hard to cure their lameness because I figured their very imperfection might prompt a competitive spirit.

Stairway to Heaven
There's some lady who's going to the stars,
Via stairs, road, or wind, not by car.
I would say if I could
If she's evil or good,
But it's all drowned out in loud guitars.

Teenage Riot
Discord and confusion are looming
While a youth revolution is brewing:
Though its programme's unclear,
There'll be leather and beer,
And a lot of creative detuning.

Later: All right, another:

Norwegian Wood
Once J.L. met a girl with good floors,
Upon which they proceeded to score.
She had work (so she's legal,
Which was rare for a Beatle),
But he still treated her like a whore.

General | Posted by zoilus on Monday, July 23 at 3:54 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (74)



Here's why I avoid topless places:
I stopped in to sip some cervezas
I stared at her cheek
But she made me feel weak
When she bent down to tie my shoelaces.

Posted by rob s. on August 2, 2007 1:13 AM



With our singers of such ghastly pallor
British culture's been getting much duller
So if you'd be so kind
Could you pop out and find
Those obligatory people of colour?

He made a fine living from carrion
'til he shot at an octogenarian
He was given a curse
And he's feeling much worse
'cause it forced him to turn vegetarian!

He's preached since the dawn of creation
Whilst trying to hide his frustration
Though he's always been poor
He demands nothing more
Than a sliver of appreciation

I took part in a radio discussion
T'was so tedious I wished for concussion
"These lefties are lame
I regret that I came
To the Deer Park, I'd rather be rushin'!"

The magazine writer's palaver
Would make him sensational, but rather
His comedic taste
Shows a talentless waste
(Can you even imagine his father?)

The mad kid knew not what to do
As he tried to bid winter adieu
"While I may have discovered
The entrance uncovered
The exit's around on side two!"

When all your excitement has died
And the world leaves you empty inside
The favoured response
Is to show nonchalance
And take a swift step to the side

Intellectuals who lure paparazzi
With their left-wing opinions so artsy
I know they mean well
But I can't stand the smell
So I'm telling you: they make the Nazis!

I awoke with my trembling right hand
Pointing to runes on the nightstand
T'was an omen, for sure
So I booked us a tour
And that's why the Fall went to Iceland

The old feelings come back for the kill
No fucking respite for us still
There's just one more song
So let's stretch it out long
We've the rest of the hour to fill!

Posted by Peter E. on August 2, 2007 12:04 AM



Jason, that was awesome. I need a smoke.

Posted by zoilus on August 1, 2007 6:01 PM



Once I started, I couldn't stop myself. Here's the entire "Side two" medley from Abbey Road:

You never give me your pillow
Any-jobbers drive lorries yellow
But sweet dreams came true
In a limousine, too
And heaven's where all good kids go.

I hear crickets - The Sun King comes hence
The revelers laugh in their tents
"Mi amore de felice"
"Tanta mucho, cake and eat" - hey,
What's all this Italian nonsense?

There once was a Mean Mr. Mustard
Whose sister Pam was a shop hustler.
He spied the old Queen
Shouted something obscene
And Her Highness was royally flustered.

Polythene Pam was a looker
Who some might mistake for a hooker
She caused quite a scene
In her bag polythene
And the News of the World called to book her.

Her loo-window entrance was bold
She worked fifteen clubs, so I'm told
She could steal, but not rob
So I quit my cop job -
One sec - I've got Tuesday on hold.

"There once was a way to get home..."
Now I find myself scratching my dome.
Despite my best tries,
I just can't limerick-ize
When the song has five lines like my poem.

To carry that weight with great ease
You mustn't just lift with your knees
No, here is the thing:
It will help if you sing
And the first tune becomes a reprise.

And so ends this long serenade
The record you're glad to have played.
With Ringo a-bashing
And three guitars thrashing
Love taken is equal to made.

(for full effect, wait twenty seconds before reading further...)

Her majesty's quite a nice chick
She's quiet, but I know the trick.
I'll ply her with wine
And soon she'll be mine.
The Beatles' breakup makes me sick!

Posted by Jason on August 1, 2007 3:19 PM



When life gets you down in the dirts
And you dream of slit wrists and blood spurts
Just spin this here song
Sing along and "hold on"
Cuz as Mike Stipe knows, everyone hurts.


It's the end of the world as we know it
Try to sing along - each time I blow it
There's too much to rhyme with,
My lips can't keep time with
A verbose and high-speed-singing poet.

Posted by Jason on August 1, 2007 12:11 PM



Thanks for the party, Carl. What a fab bunch of limericks from everybody!

Posted by john on July 31, 2007 9:35 AM



geez. Think I have Limerick writer's block.

Posted by jks on July 29, 2007 9:42 PM



OK, *one* more ... they were playing the Sirius 60s channel at the water park today:

If you find yourself in the Bay Area,
In your hair please include a wisteria,
Or peonies or roses,
Cause as everyone knowses,
This was just the fake hippie histeria.

Posted by John on July 28, 2007 10:11 PM



Fantastic work on that Ragtime Band limerick, John - very Rosenesque, hmm? To jump ahead 78 years...

It's a long hot summer again (hit it!),
But don't let that fog up your brain (don't quit!).
As for crackers latterly (whoa!)
Enshrined in philately? (yo!)
Motherfuck them and John Wayne (fight shit!).

Posted by zoilus on July 28, 2007 7:19 PM



A 1911 smash hit that quotes a 19th century smash hit:

The "new" music moves with a quiver,
It wobbles and jolts like a flivver
When that Alexander
Starts leading his band (ear-
ly Irving) in rag "Swannee River."

And this, in honor of John Ashbery's birthday.

It can be all comfy and cozy
Like kids playing Ring-a-Round Rosie
And then get unnervin'
When things start to swerve in
John Ashbery's oblique, odd poesy.

Posted by john on July 28, 2007 6:42 PM



The classical image of Zoilus
Is someone who's carping and joyless
But here it's good-timing
With all of this rhyming.
(And I can't leave my last line envoi-less.)

Posted by john on July 28, 2007 1:39 PM



i really agree with Jody about this being addictive...
a few more additions to the hip-hop/r&b; category:

Busta Rhymes - Who-Hah!! Got You All In Check

When I step in the place, it's correct
So you'll nod until you break your neck
Move around if you need
Bogle Dance; Pepperseed
"Woo-hah:" I've got you all in check

k-os - Sunday Morning

Every day's Saturday eve
But deep in my heart I believe
That I love Sunday morn
For that's when I watch porn
And enjoy it until I'm relieved

Rihanna - Umbrella (en Français)

Écoute maintenant - j'ai déja dit
Que nous restons ensemble ici
En dépit de pluie qui commence
On y dance
En dessous de mon parapluie

Posted by Jason R. on July 28, 2007 12:36 PM



There was once a fellow in jail
Who envied those ridin' the rail
He said, "I'd be eatin'
Like a filthy rich cretin
If not for that Reno detail."

Posted by Jake on July 28, 2007 11:24 AM



Here's one about an album.


That maid with the harp art a poet.
Lo, she shalt ensure that thee know it,
Thrusting quill, cowing critics:
“Frenzy coiling flush.” “Fain.” “Inchoate.”

Posted by Jody on July 28, 2007 8:19 AM



It really is getting quite late, sir,
And your last Beatle lim'rick is great, sir --
But I want to know, sir,
If you could please show, sir,
Just why'd Beatles skip Two through Eight, sir?

Posted by john on July 28, 2007 2:33 AM



A minstrel song that's been passed down to us as a children's song.

Is railroad work really a pastime?
Will Dinah blow horn in a fast time?
And who's in that kitchen?
I hope that they pitch in
With fee-fie-fiddl'-eye-oh like last time.

Posted by john on July 28, 2007 2:22 AM



One more, because I'm reading Daniel J. Levitin's (hugely fun) This is Your Brain on Music, which names Revolution #9 as the song you would *not* mention if you were trying to explain the Beatles:

When they first loved, John and Yoko
Entertained notions rococo:
Blending Fluxus with pop!
But the fucking mop-tops?
Oh no, they thought they'd gone loco.

(Personally, I suspect that track did more for experimental music than John Cage's whole career, in terms of sheer influence.)

Posted by zoilus on July 28, 2007 1:43 AM



(As cheat-rhymes go, would "brownstone" have been better than "condo"?)

Posted by zoilus on July 28, 2007 1:02 AM



Because I haven't pitched in (so to speak) in a while. No title necessary, I suspect.

If you are coming to town, bro',
Without the dough for a condo,
There's a spot you can squat,
Get three squares and a cot,
And work out your cock (on the down-low).

Posted by zoilus on July 28, 2007 12:59 AM



Yeah Carl, good ol' Marshall Mathers. This is fun!

Posted by Jason R. on July 28, 2007 12:40 AM



Ah! Of course. I've heard that one but I don't own it.

Posted by zoilus on July 27, 2007 10:43 PM



Carl - Jason's last is "Cleanin' out my closet" (Eminem). A goody. (Is that the one you were asking about?)

Posted by Misha on July 27, 2007 9:57 PM



Good calling me out on the "legitimate" thing, John (Shaw, that is - there are more Johns in here than a whorehouse!) - what I meant is a non-novelty-song, non-joke song - taking the narrative of the limerick somehow in earnest as song material.

Posted by zoilus on July 27, 2007 9:52 PM



OK one more (which I said 12 hours ago too...)

I was born in the US, it's true
And I don't mind the red, white and blue
But it's kind of pathetic
That they made it anthemic
When the meaning, they haven't a clue

Posted by John on July 27, 2007 9:11 PM



re: Carl's new suggestion

Now please do not think I'm a nitwit
If I can't keep up with the lit-wit.
I need me some learning
'Cause I ain't discerning
'Tween what is il- and what's legit'mate.

Posted by john on July 27, 2007 8:44 PM



Another whole possibility for competitive play, now that we've got a few capable songwriters among us: Take a traditional limerick, preferably a dirty one, and turn it into a full, legitimate song.

Posted by zoilus on July 27, 2007 7:10 PM



The bar just keeps getting pushed up.

What was that last one of yours, Jason? (I'm sure if I were more of a head it would be obvious but even for me it tugs at strings of recognition.)

Thanks to one John for bringing the other John over, to (besides dish out a wicked punchline) bend the format. It hints at a whole other genre, which is "musicians' entire careers in limerick form," although I kind of like (a) sticking to parameters and (b) smuggling the biographical/critical perspective into the envelope of the limerick-as-single-song.

Posted by zoilus on July 27, 2007 7:08 PM



OK, this is a little addictive - just two more:

Night driving doesn't get better
The moon's pink and I'm loving the weather
My message, though traffic
(To the 'hip' demographic)
Is 'Please buy the Volkswagen Jetta'


Shall I get you a drink, Maggie May?
Though I'm used, I don't care what they say.
While you're older (and how)
Please enjoy my youth now
'Cause 'Hot Legs' is just five years away.

Posted by John on July 27, 2007 6:43 PM



My intention is not to be mean
But you've mistreated me since my teens
Yes you've been a bad mom
So I'm saying through song
That I'm giving my closet a clean

Posted by Jason R. on July 27, 2007 6:25 PM



T.I. - Big Shit Poppin'

Nowadays I be popping big shit
And the little shit, well, I've stopped it
I ball on you all
I'll ball til I fall
I live it, I don't just talk it

Posted by Jason R. on July 27, 2007 6:14 PM



Our chambers total thirty-six
That's from kung-fu flicks and Shaolin myth
Once I step in the room
Prepare for the boom
For our clan is not one to fuck with

Posted by Jason R. on July 27, 2007 6:10 PM



urged on by jks, I think I'll try my hand:

any late-period Happy Mondays song
I feel like I'm starting to peak.
it's been like this more than a week.
Manchester is drab,
but the cocaine is fab.
Utter gibberish comes out when I speak.

Posted by JD on July 27, 2007 4:50 PM



re: Jody's Sadie & Britney entries

Well, Jody's enjambment is tricky.
It hurts the trad. beat's ricky-ticky.
But hey, that's OK, an'
Don't mind what I'm sayin' --
His stuff makes me feel limericky.

His rhymes are baroque and ingenious.
They bloom like a bunch of gardenias.
And who could abhore a
Labia minora?
Such pleasures are puckish and keen, yes?

Posted by john on July 27, 2007 3:53 PM




That runaway 'merican dream,
is never as cool as it seems.
Though I sing 'em like hymns,
and invoke "velvet rims"
my car references run out of steam...

Posted by David M. on July 27, 2007 3:03 PM



OK one more - I'm surprised no one's done this yet:

Never thought that I’d end up a killa
So goodbye Mom, I’m leaving the villa
Vocal choirs heroic
Left me feeling quite stoic
But who the hell is this Bismillah?

Posted by John on July 27, 2007 2:29 PM



I go driving round Boston pre-dawn
And I must make a Stop and Shop run
Modern music sounds great
Out on 128
I'll always keep the radio on

Posted by John on July 27, 2007 2:13 PM



Lucidkid's got a passel of them coming in (some in this thread, some not) over here:

Posted by zoilus on July 27, 2007 1:22 PM



You're cookin', sfp. It took me a minute to get it, mainly because I never really remember the lyrics to Smoke on the Water, which are this strange mix of banality, self-indulgence and mushmouthed articulacy. And the Suzanne one was *classic*.

Jody has demonstrated one key truth of the limerick form: It's all about the feminine rhymes. Masculine rhymes, despite their name, are for limerick wimps.

Posted by zoilus on July 27, 2007 1:05 PM



I really should be very miffed:
This moron who smoked too much spliff,
Burned down our hotel,
In Montreux. Oh well,
We got this incredible riff!

Posted by sfp on July 27, 2007 12:49 PM



A Tom Waits Pair:

Tom croaked like he was dead,
'bout a murder in a barn that was red,
There was blood on his axe,
There were possums in packs
So I put on "Rain Dogs" instead.

Alone, Tom mulled and he milled
Until one day, he was thrilled
When his strangest neighbor
stole his saw and his shaver
And Tom asked, "What's he going to build?!"

Posted by Ted on July 27, 2007 12:48 PM



New York is where all misfits run
Don't be shocked man, bite your tongue
Identity's fluid
Anyone can do it
Doo doo doo, the negresses sung

Posted by austin on July 27, 2007 10:49 AM



Sexy Sadie, The Beatles

Sadie is such a bitch! See, she
Made fools of my friends and me. She
Played us, betrayed us.
(And made us chant Vedas -
You see, her real name's Maharishi.)

Posted by Jody on July 27, 2007 9:46 AM



OK, one more - take it DeeDee:

Third Avenue and 53rd
I stand without saying a word
Where once I turned tricks
Stabbed a guy just for kicks
Now it's luxury condos ... absurd!

Posted by John on July 27, 2007 9:31 AM



Though the clicking revolver won't shoot,
Jack and Lily pursue a doomed suit
Among card-playing killers.
Meanwhile, the wall-drillers
Don't quite get away with their loot.

Posted by Douglas on July 27, 2007 2:22 AM



Suzanne's kinda crazy they say;
Drinks shitloads of tea every day,
And mumble's 'bout Jesus--
But what the hell, she's a
Totally great fucking lay.

Posted by sfp on July 27, 2007 1:05 AM



My limerickal flow can't be fucked with, people...

Bootylicious, Destiny's Child

Beyonce is sure that her fella
Only has eyes for her jella'.
But the sky's rent by thunder.
The rain pours. Fie! Hov's under
Another young lady's "Umbrella."

Posted by Jody on July 26, 2007 7:10 PM



There once was a way to get home
Smiles awaiting, you won't be alone
Got your eyes all filled, rest up and lay still
A lullaby lays a lightly built tone.

Posted by Chris Cruthers on July 26, 2007 5:54 PM



The Mountain Goats "Wild Sage"

I'm like a prisoner breaking out of jail,
It's like a bounty hunter's on my tail.
I thought about these,
and more similies,
then tripped behind a highway safety-rail.

Posted by jks on July 26, 2007 5:28 PM



Altho I love Let's Dance.

Posted by zoilus on July 26, 2007 4:51 PM



Everyone, especially Nate & John: Fiyah.

Posted by zoilus on July 26, 2007 4:50 PM




Stevie Ray brought his Strat to the jam
When DB said "I'm through being glam.
"I'll no longer be soulful,
"'Sperimental, or doleful,
"So Let's Dance and cash in. Where's my gram?"

Posted by John on July 26, 2007 4:47 PM



kanye west "stronger"

lifted this sample from my buddies daft punk
at a loss for words, true lyrical funk
the beat was so hot
no one gave second thought
to my faster, harder, stronger junk

Posted by geoff on July 26, 2007 4:17 PM



the mountain goats "this year"

cathy and i drank scotch with a pout
a step-father's anger without shadow of doubt
so i drank and drove
bitter and clean in my nose
and from this year, i still am not out.

Posted by geoff on July 26, 2007 3:55 PM



There once was a man made of iron
Who lived in a hostile environ
An immobile brute
Or a zombie deaf-mute?
No -- and revenge is transpirin'.

Posted by Nate P. on July 26, 2007 3:54 PM



Hi dere prepare for the Idolator-led flood (or just me). Anyway:

There once was a song called "Soon"
Some people said it had no tune
Yet the 'ums' and the sighs
Caught a few by surprise
(Since then I've been branded a loon.)

Posted by Ned Raggett on July 26, 2007 3:09 PM



Since U Been Gone

With this song I bid him my a-dieu
Abandoned, but ego is renewed
What I want I get
It's finished, but yet--
Wait. They don't love you like I love you.

Posted by Karen O. on July 26, 2007 4:10 AM



Jody emailed me this one:

"My friend Alana challenged me to write one for Britney's "Overprotected":

Overprotected, Britney Spears

Poor cosseted Brit once yearned for a
Taste of Sodom and Gommorah.
Now she's scalped, drowned in drink -
If you click on this link,
You can download her labia minora.

Posted by zoilus on July 25, 2007 5:16 PM



We celebrate your date of birth
In cheery song, rife with mirth
This line uses your name
Otherwise it's the same
As for simian stench, you've no dearth.

Posted by anon on July 25, 2007 11:10 AM



Having seen a few - I think these are a lot nicer when they're not a guessing game.

So... mine (above) is "Work it" by Missy Elliott.

Posted by Misha on July 24, 2007 8:02 PM



Yeah, Carl, I'll definitely take your "merest gyration" suggestion. I'll tell the Norton Anthology people to make that change.

Here's another, with clunky meter but what the hell. This is addictive, btw.


Trapped in the Closet, Chapters 1-12

In the cupboard, Kelly cowers.
The song seems to drag on for hours.
There are cuckolds, gays, midgets
There's a triflin' ho, Bridget -
But for once, no teens or golden showers.

Posted by Jody on July 24, 2007 7:47 PM



Nicely amended jks!
Jody, bravo! (I can't decide if the two "every"s are a flaw or a good rhythmic device, but "Baila, reina! Forsooth" - !)

Posted by zoilus on July 24, 2007 7:33 PM



Hips Don't Lie, Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean

The pop charts of every nation
Quake with her every gyration.
Baila, reina! Forsooth,
Her hips tell the truth -
But will someone please muzzle the Haitian?

Posted by Jody on July 24, 2007 7:11 PM



Ah, drat. How about:

There once was a girl who was felled
by the high expectations she held.
Went too far, lost the sun,
and then came undone,
which for some reason Randy misspelled.

Posted by jks on July 24, 2007 5:52 PM



I was going to complain about the unorthodox rhyme scheme, jks, but with that last line all was forgiven!

Posted by zoilus on July 24, 2007 5:22 PM



There once was a girl who went crazy
due to high expectations she held.
Went too far, lost the sun,
and then came undone,
which for some reason Randy misspelled.

Posted by jks on July 24, 2007 5:08 PM



I'm embarrassed that I didn't get it - it's because I don't know the verses so well, but also because I mis-read line 3.

33 1/3 editor David Barker sends along this "attempt at How Soon Is Now, from the perspective of a club full of hedonists":

On account of his criminal shyness
Young Steven would tend to revile us
He would stand on his own
Then go home alone
Leaving us to our cocks and vaginas.

Posted by zoilus on July 24, 2007 4:50 PM



Nice one, Misha! I got it right away, but only because I happen to own the record.

Posted by Jamie on July 24, 2007 4:01 PM



Carl, not telling.

(Because I think it's pretty eminently figure-outable).

I'll email you the edit.

Posted by Misha on July 24, 2007 2:22 PM



Misha, what the hell song was that!? Have mercy on the slow-witted. (PS - If you email me your edits I can make the changes for you.)

Posted by zoilus on July 24, 2007 2:11 PM



(aw.. now I want to edit mine...)

Posted by Misha on July 24, 2007 2:11 PM



Do you got what it takes to fulfill me?
I've lost weight. Chinese boys can thrill me.
Mad-dog, dnalabmit
Desrever si siht
My chocha's not shaved but it will be.

Posted by Misha on July 24, 2007 2:02 PM



There once was a girl from Ohio
Who returned and her city was gone
With all gone away
She has this to say
Oh oh oh oh oh Ohio

Posted by CK on July 24, 2007 10:17 AM



I'll play:

Her smile, eyes, and hair are divine
She helps me my safe place to find
The song hath bestowed a
Most transcendent coda
Where do we go, sweet child of mine?

Posted by Jamie on July 24, 2007 6:53 AM



I doubt whether this counts as a famous song, but it's the first doggerel that came to mind:

"I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing"
Take that tired old English reserve
And gently footsie it to the kerb.
Of course this is delight
But I just thought I might
Ask: does my exuberance unnerve?

Posted by chris randle on July 23, 2007 10:41 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson