Gibberish Alert


It was twenty years ago today … we were driving down the 5 ("the 5" is the California way of saying I-5), on a stretch in Orange County where the Pacific Ocean kisses the highway, a persistent, teasing beauty. Well, except for the San Onofre nuclear reactor. We were arguing over the lyrics to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Nevermind -- maybe the last truly great piece of rock art -- had just come out. Grunge had shown up on the scene wearing a dirty flannel shirt and mumbling. The debate was whether Cobain was singing, "here we are now/give us taters." He wasn't. But it did sound that way to some of us, and one could dream up a crazy world where those lyrics would work just fine.

The list of misheard rock lyrics is long and honorable: "there's a bathroom on the right," "'scuse me, while I kiss this guy," "then I told you about our kid/how he's not a tomato." Early critics of rock decried nonsensical or puerile lyrics. That "It was twenty years ago today" opening line to this post is obviously cribbed from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club." The Beatles' lyrics were usually clear, but not always. Bob Dylan thought that in "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" the Beatles were singing "I get high." Apparently, that mattered a lot at the time. Lennon corrected Dylan, telling him that the lyrics were actually "It's such a feeling, that my love/I can't hide/I can't hide." Dylan's response? Those lyrics make no sense. Why hide your love? Lennon later wrote a song that sort of answered that question. The point is that even the best writers are capable of descending into gibberish. This weekend's Wall Street Journal furnished examples of anti-Beatles criticism over the years, including insults from Noel Coward, William F. Buckley, and even James Bond. Most of those criticisms now seem as nonsensical as the lyrics they attacked.

Please see full article below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Dechert LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Dechert LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.