The Most Famous Song Lyrics

atkins bookshelf musicLike movies, songs provide a global shared experience, as people listen, dance, or sing to their favorite tunes. The greatest songs not only endure because of this shared experience, they also contribute to the English lexicon, providing words and phrases that evoke an era as well as succinctly express certain feelings, situations, or complex issues. Some song lyrics are so well known, that people use them who have never heard the original song. Consider these famous lyrics: “You can check out any time you like / But you can never leave” from Hotel California by The Eagles; “You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes you might find /
You get what you need” from You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones); or “Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you’ve got / ‘Til it’s gone / They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot” from Big Yellow Taxi by Jon Mitchell, to name just a few.  The editors of Sputnik Music got together and compiled a list of the “100 Greatest Song Lyrics.” Like any list it has some glaring omissions; nevertheless, below are the top 50 from that list (artist, album title, followed by lyric). What lyrics are they missing?

1. Neil Young, My My, Hey Hey: It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.

2. Bob Dylan, Blowin’ In The Wind: How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry? Yes, and / how many deaths will it take ‘til he knows that too many people have died?

3. The Beatles, All You Need Is Love: All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.

4. John Cougar Mellencamp, Minutes To Memories: An honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind.

5. Bo Diddley; Creedance Clearwater Revival; Eric Clapton, Before You Accuse Me: Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.

6. Bob Dylan, Its Alright, Ma: Bent out of shape from society’s pliers, cares not to come up any higher, but / rather get you down in the hole that he’s in.

7. Fleetwood Mac, Oh Well: Don’t ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to.

8. Semisonic, Album: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

9. Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes: Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart.

10. Frank Sinatra, My Way: For what is a man? What has he got? If not himself – Then he has naught. / To say the things he truly feels And not the words of one who kneels.

11. Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall: Heard ten thousand whispering and nobody listening. Heard one person starve, / I heard many people laughing. Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter.

12. Rush, The Pass: All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer by the stars.

13. Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer: All lies and jest, still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

14. The Beatles, The End: And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

15. Woodie Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land: This land was made for you and me.

16. 2 Pac, Me Against The World: Even the genius asks questions.

17. Kool Moe Dee, Knowledge Is King: Evil feeds off a source of apathy, weak in the mind, and of course you have to be. Less than a man, more like a thing, no knowledge you’re nothing, knowledge is king.

18. Led Zeppelin, The Battle Of Evermore: The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath.

19. Wilco, Ashes Of American Flags: All my lies are always wishes.

20. Rush, Freewill: If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

21. Ramones, Got a Lot to Say: I got a lot to say, I got a lot to say, I got a lot to say. I can’t remember now, I can’t remember now, I can’t remember now.

22. mewithoutyou, Oh, Porcupine: And all I ever want to say for the rest of my life, Is how the light is GOD! / And through I’ve been mistaken on this or that point,That light is God.

23. Boston, Peace of Mind: I understand about indecision, but I don’t care if I get behind. People living in competition, all I want is to have my peace of mind.

24. Bob Dylan; The Byrds, My Back Pages: I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

25. Simon and Garfunkel, El Condor Pasa: I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.

26. Anthrax, Schism: If we were blind and had no choice, would we hate each other by the tone of our voice?

27. Bob Seger, Feel Like a Number: Im not a number damnit. I’m a man.

28. Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here: We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl.

29. Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Jefferson Airplane, Wooden Ships: If you smile at me I will understand, cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.

30. The Eagles, Desperado: Freedom, well, that’s just some people talking. Your prison is walking through this world all alone.

31. The Righteous Brothers, Rock and Roll Heaven: If you believe in forever, then life is just a one night stand. If there’s a rock and roll heaven, well, you know they got a hell of a band.

32. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fortunate Son: It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no Senator’s son, son. It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one.

33. Misery Signals, In Summary Of What I Am: And all the great things that I will never do.

34. Janis Joplin, Me And Bobby McGee: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. Nothing ain’t nothing, but it’s free.

35. U2, Zooropo: Get your head out of the mud, baby. Put flowers in the mud, baby.

36. Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’: You better start swimming or sink like a stone, cause the times they are a-changing.

37. Eric Clapton, Tears in Heaven: Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees.

38. The Moody Blues, The Best Way To Travel: Thinking is the best way to travel.

39. Marvin Gaye, What’s Goin’ On: War is not the answer, because only love can conquer hate.

40. La Dispute, New Storms for Older Lovers: I guess love?s a funny thing, the way it fades away without a warning and when it’s gone oh it’s gone. It aint ever coming back.

41. Pink Floyd, Time: Then one day you find, ten years have got behind you. / No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

42. Bob Dylan, I and I: The swift don’t win the race. It goes to the worthy, who can divide the word of truth.

43. Simon and Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence: The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.

44. The Rolling Stones, Far Away Eyes: The preacher said, you know you always have the Lord by your side. And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran twenty red-lights in his name.

45. Elvis Presley, Can’t Help Falling in Love: Take my hand, take my whole life too, but I can’t help falling in love with you.

46. Radiohead, There, There: Just because you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there.

47. Misery Signals, Ebb and Flow: In dreams, I’ll promise you’ll never be alone, how much I wish your voice could send me home.

48. The Who, Baba O’Riley (“Teenage Wasteland”): The exodus is here the happy ones are near, / let’s get together before we get much older.

49. The Yardbirds, Spoonful: It could be a spoonful of diamonds, could be a spoonful of gold. Just a little spoon of your precious love satisfies my soul.

50. Golden Earring, Twilight Zone: Where am I to go, now that I’ve gone too far?

Read related posts: Famous Love Quotes from the Movies
Most Famous Movie Quotations
Most Famous Movie Catchphrases

Best Academy Award Quotes
How Many Music Genres Exist?

For further reading:

The Mythology of Racism

alex atkins bookshelf culture“I recognize that the mythology we have in which racism is something that happens to bad people is destructive and false, and it allows us to think racism is gone because bad people from history are gone. If I recognize that you can be a good person and that racism is in the oxygen we breathe, it allows me to have a lot of compassion to let them metabolize that racism differently. There’s a false mythology that in the days of segregation, the majority of white people were bad, evil people and no one today could hold that position if they were fed the same images and stories of why black people deserved it. … Where did Southerners get the belief that there was something so wrong with black children that they shouldn’t drink from the same water fountain? It wasn’t inner malevolence; it was images and messages that justified black people’s lower position in society. I think it’s important we let individuals who are brave enough to say they want to be a better American understand that our entire society sets them up to accept a lot of negative stereotypes of people of color…

Social scientists know that bias against people with darker skins is widespread, and yet we haven’t had a conversation about what to do about that. People of good conscience haven’t led a good conversation about that… White people want to choose a side; they want to be on the right side of history. But we’ve lost the muscle to work through the reality of our distance from one another and the pervasiveness of unconscious bias…

The first thing to do [to help reduce racism] is [to] exit the denial phase… and then take it as a national imperative for us to create a shared sense of history, to acknowledge the sins of our past that still structure economic policy… enroll people of all races in this project out of a sense of patriotism that America’s greatness comes from our diversity. But we’ll only be fulfilled if we do the hard work to find the human capacity within all of us across races.”

From an interview with Heather McGhee, president of Demos, a progressive public policy organization that advocates for equality, on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal show (air date: August 21, 2016).

Read related posts: The Wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr.
How People Recover From Trauma
The Search for Meaning of Our Existence
What are the Most Common Personal Projects?

For further reading:

What is the Longest English Word Without Repeated Letters?

atkins bookshelf wordsWord lovers (also known as logophiles, logophiliacs, workaholics, word fanatics, word nuts, logolepts, or verbivores) enjoy mining the vast English lexicon of almost 1 million words to find those that set word (pun intended) records — the longest words, the shortest words, the words with letters in alphabetical order, etc. Many times, the words that break word records are everyday words, for example “almost” is the longest English word with all letters in alphabetical order; however, the longest word in the dictionary is a rare medical term: “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” (45 letters).

The longest word in the English language without repeating any letter is “subdermatoglyphic,” a medical term, containing 17 letters. There are two words that contain 15 letters: “uncopyrightable,” and “misconjugatedly.”

Read related posts: What is the Longest Word in English Language?
Words with Letters in Alphabetical Order
Word Oddities: Fun with Vowels

What is an Abecedarian Insult?
Difficult Tongue Twisters
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What Rhymes with Orange?

For further reading: Making the Alphabet Dance by Ross Eckler St. Martin’s Press (1996)
Crazy English by Richard Lederer, Pocket Books (1989)

Doublets: The Uses of a Book

atkins bookshelf quotations“I like a thin book because it will steady a table; a leather volume because it will strop a razor; and a heavy book because it can be thrown at a cat.”

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910), American writer and humorist.

Read related posts: Doublets: Love
Doublets: Genius
Doublets: Youth and Maturity
Doublets: You Cannot Run Away From Yourself
Doublets: The Lessons of History
Doublets: Reading a Great Book
Doublets: Tolerance
Doublets: The Role of Religion
Doublets: Things Left Unsaid

The Origins of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola

atkins bookshelf triviaCoca-cola was invented by Atlanta Georgia pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton on May 8, 1886. Pemberton created a unique blend of syrup with carbonated water to create a soda fountain drink that was “delicious and refreshing.” In those days, a glass of Coca-Cola cost only five cents. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson came up with name Coca-Cola, believing that “the two Cs would look well in advertising.

In 1890, a few states over, in North Carolina, another pharmacist, Caleb “Brad” Bradham, was inspired to create a fountain soda for his customers. Initially, Brad called his soda Brad’s Drink, described as being “exhilarating, invigorating, and full of pep.” Eight years later, Bradham officially registered the name of his soda as Pepsi-Cola.

Little did these two southern pharmacists know that they created sodas that would eventually become multi-billion dollar empires. In 2016, the Coca-Cola brand was worth $80.3 billion; while Pepsi-Cola was worth $19.4 billion.

Read related posts: Most Popular Candy Bars
Top Ad Slogans of All Time

The Origin of Nike’s Just Do It Slogan

For further reading:

How People Recover from Trauma

atkins bookshelf quotationsTraumatic events destroy the sustaining bonds between individual and community. Those who have survived learn that their sense of self, of worth, of humanity, depends upon a feeling of connection to others. The solidarity of a group provides the strongest protection against terror and despair, and the strongest antidote to traumatic experience. Trauma isolates; the group re-creates a sense of belonging. Trauma shames and stigmatizes; the group bears witness and affirms. Trauma degrades the victim; the group exalts her. Trauma dehumanizes the victim; the group restores her humanity. 

Repeatedly in the testimony of survivors there comes a moment when a sense of connection is restored by another person’s unaffected display of generosity. Something in herself that the victim believes to be irretrievably destroyed — faith, decency, courage — is reawakened by an example of common altruism. Mirrored in the actions of others, the survivor recognizes and reclaims a lost part of herself. At that moment, the survivor begins to rejoin the human commonality.

From Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence — From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Lewis Herman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School, and an expert on trauma and PTSD.

What is a Thumb Bible?

atkins-bookshelf-booksA thumb Bible is an abridged version of the Bible printed in miniature form to appeal to children who were not old enough to read the full-length Bible. The bibles were typically less than three inches tall and containing 100-300 pages, and often containing simple woodcut engravings. The term was coined by British publisher Longman and Co. in 1849, referring to the midget Tom Thumb (actual name, Charles Stratton) who was part of P.T. Barnum’s circus show.

An Agnus Dei, written by John Weever, was the first thumb Bible published in verse form in London in 1601. Weever’s bible was truly miniature, measuring 1.1 by 1.3 inches, containing 128 pages of six lines of verse. Biblia or A Practical Summary of ye Old & New Testaments published in London in 1727 was the first thumb Bible written in prose. This edition measured 0.9 by 1.4 inches, containing 300 pages. The earliest known thumb Bible printed in America was American Thumb Bible (1765) written by John Taylor. Taylor summarizes the intent of all thumb Bible writers: “With care and pains out of the Sacred book, / This little Abstract for thee have took: / And with great reverence have I cull’d from thence, / All things that are of Greatest consequence.”

Thumb Bibles were very popular in Europe and continued to be printed throughout the nineteenth century. Book experts estimate that there are more than 300 editions existing today. Recently a collection of 500 miniature books from the Lilliput Oval Saloon of Tokyo are being put up for auction. The various editions are estimated to fetch from $600 to $1,500 each.

Read related posts: What was the First Bible Printed in the United States?
The Most Expensive American Book
Most Expensive Books Sold in 2012
Most Expensive Book in the World
Rarest Book in American Literature

For further reading: Miniature Books: 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures by Anne Bromer and Julian Edison (2007)


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