Chattanooga Now Mind Coffee: Too much sugar? Try some musical mental floss

Chattanooga Now Mind Coffee: Too much sugar? Try some musical mental floss

July 11th, 2018 by Staff Report in Chattnow Music

From April 4 through April 24, 1976, the No. 1 song in the country was Johnnie Taylor's "Disco Lady."

Never heard it? Go to iTunes. Listen to it. I did. Forgot how bad it was.

Shawn Ryan

Shawn Ryan

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

Pop music has never been a diamond mine of Mensa-level intelligence. Some seem to make a distinct effort to be brainless. Take "Work" by Rihanna and Drake, a No. 1 in 2016: "You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work / You see me do me dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt." Makes you feel kind of feel dumb, dumb, dumb.

Or "MacArthur Park" from 1968, considered by some to be the worst lyrics of all time: "Someone left the cake out in the rain / I don't think I can take it 'cause it took so long to bake it." Who wants to eat soggy lyrics?

But you know what? There are artists out there with lyrics that don't suck the IQ points right out of your skull, and they're not stalwarts such as Bob Dylan, Carole King, Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Jackson Browne or Mary Chapin Carpenter.

» Turnpike Troubadours. While their songs are as catchy as all get out melodically, it's the lyrics that make you come back. On "1968," for instance: "And when the rounds were fired that April, you were on the balcony / When 10,000 tear drops hit the ground in Memphis, Tennessee / You were a prideful rebel yell among a million marching men / And you've been a long time gone / Good to see you my old friend."

» Del Amitri. Where to begin? Let's try "Kiss This Thing Goodbye": "All those times our lips were kissing, our tongues were telling lies." Pretty visual, huh?

» Blue Rodeo. Some of the Canadian band's lyrics float by in what appears (and probably is) a mushroom-induced haze, most of those written by vocalist Greg Keelor. But lyrics by vocalist Jim Cuddy tend to focus on adult themes. Take "Bulletproof": "But we're so scared of the silence and the tricks that we use / O, we're careful and we're cunning, but we're easily bruised / I don't want to lie about it, I'm not bulletproof."

» Paul Thorn. The son of a Pentecostal preacher expresses a universal truth that many of us should keep in mind in "You Might Be Wrong": "Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Jews / Got their own version of the truth / There's a line in the sand / There's a war goin' on / They forgot to remember / You might be wrong."

Now, there's nothing wrong with a bit of mindless musical sugar, but if that's all you get, it rots your teeth. Try a little mental floss to wash away the plaque.

Contact Shawn Ryan at

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315