Quote Unquote

Here’s a collection of some lyrics I find memorable…

Barry, Jeff, Ellie Greenwich & Phil Spector

I remember when I brought you home / I remember what my mama said / When I told her that I loved you so / She told me I was out of my head / Oh no we’re not too young / Young to get married . . . What kind of difference can a few years make? / I gotta have you now / Or my heart will break

— “Not Too Young to Get Married” (recorded by Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans)

The night we met I knew I needed you so / And if I had the chance I’d never let you go / So won’t you say you love me, I’ll make you so proud of me / We’ll make ’em turn their heads every place we go.

— “Be My Baby” (recorded by the Ronettes)

Cash, John R. & Roy Cash Jr.

At my door the leaves are falling / A cold wild wind will come / Sweethearts walk by together / And I still miss someone / I go out on a party / And look for a little fun / But I find a darkened corner / ‘Cause I still miss someone

— “I Still Miss Someone”

Cohen, Leonard

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me / Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free / Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes / I thought it was there for good, so I never tried.

— “Famous Blue Raincoat”

Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.

— “Anthem”

Cole, Lloyd

Well, you have absolutely no common sense / Yes, I know that’s your charm / You spend the whole day on the phone / You say, well, it helps you stay calm / You cling to my arm / Yes, I know that’s your charm / … We’re living four flights up / But I swear right now it feels like underground

— “Four Flights Up”

Costello, Elvis

. . . I heard you let that little friend of mine / Take off your party dress / I’m not gonna get too sentimental / Like those other sticky valentines / ‘Cause I don’t know if you are loving somebody / I only know it isn’t mine.

— “Alison”

Crystals, The

Downtown he’s just one of a million guys / He don’t get no breaks and he takes all they got to give, ’cause he got to live/But then he comes uptown where he can hold his head up high…the world is sweet, it’s at his feet when he’s uptown

— “Uptown,” written by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil


We sang and cracked the sky with laughter / Our breath turned to mist in the cold / Our years put together counted 30 / But our eyes told the dawn we were old / And who’s going to be the one / To say it was no good what we done? I dare a man to I’m too young / For I’m going to try for the sun

— “To Try for the Sun”

Duritz, Adam; David Bryson; Ben Mize; Daniel Vickrey; Charles Gillingham; Steve Bowman; Matthew Malley

When I look at the television I want to see me staring right back at me / We all want to be big stars, but we don’t know why and we don’t know how / But when everybody loves me, I’m going to be just about as happy as I can be / Mr. Jones and me, we’re gonna be big stars…

— “Mr. Jones,” performed by Counting Crows

Dylan, Bob

What looks large from a distance close up ain’t never that big.

— “Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love)”

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

— “Subterranean Homesick Blues”

She’s got everything she needs / She’s an artist, she don’t look back / …She can take the dark out of the nighttime and paint the daytime black… / You will start out standing / Proud to steal her anything she sees / But you will wind up peeking through her keyhole down upon your knees

—”She Belongs to Me”

They’re selling postcards of the hanging / They’re painting the passports brown / The beauty parlor is filled with sailors / The circus is in town / Here comes the blind commissioner / They’ve got him in a trance / One hand is tied to the tightrope walker / The other is in his pants

—”Desolation Row”

All the people we used to know / They’re an illusion to me now / Some are mathematicians / Some are carpenters’ wives / Don’t know how it all got started / I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives / But me, I’m still on the road / Headin’ for another joint / We always did feel the same / We just saw it from a different point of view / Tangled up in blue

— “Tangled Up in Blue”

Forbert, Steve

I’m glad to be so young / Talkin’ with my tongue / Glad to be so careless in my way / Glad to take a chance and play against the odds / Glad to be so crazy in my day

— “Goin’ Down to Laurel”

It’s often said that life is strange / oh yes, but compared to what?

— “January 23–30, 1978”

Gentry, Bobbie

That nice young preacher Brother Taylor dropped by today / Said he’d be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh by the way / He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge / And she and Billie Joe was throwin’ somethin’ off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

— “Ode to Billie Joe”

Gibson, Don

They say that time heals a broken heart / But time has stood still since we’ve been apart.

— “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (recorded by Ray Charles)

Goffin, Jerry and Carole King

Tonight you’re mine completely / You give your love so sweetly / Tonight the light of love is in your eyes / But will you love me tomorrow? / Is this a lasting treasure / Or just a moment’s pleasure? / Can I believe the magic of your sighs? / Will you still love me tomorrow?
— “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” (recorded by the Shirelles)

Goodman, Steve

Just give me one good reason / And I promise I won’t ask you anymore / Just give me one extra season / So I can figure out the other four.

— “Blue Umbrella”

Guthrie, Woody

As I went walking I saw a sign there / And on the sign it said ‘No Trespassing’  / But on the other side it didn’t say nothing / That side was made for you and me. / In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people / By the relief office I seen my people / As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking / Is this land made for you and me?

—from full version of “This Land Is Your Land”

Henley, Don

Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac / A little voice inside my head said, “Don’t look back. You can never look back” / I thought I knew what love was, What did I know? / Those days are gone forever, I should just let ’em go

—”The Boys of Summer”

Hiatt, John

She came onto him like a slow movin’ cold front / His beer was warmer than the look in her eyes / She sat on a stool, he said, “What do you want?” / She said, “Give me a love that don’t freeze up inside.”

— “Icy Blue Heart”

Jagger, Mick & Keith Richards

Honey, is there any place that you would like to eat? / I know a coffee shop on Fifty-Second Street / And I don’t need no fancy food and I don’t need no fancy wine / And I sure don’t need the tears you cry / Till the next time we say goodbye . . . I’ll be thinking of you

— “Till the Next Goodbye” (recorded by the Rolling Stones)

Men, they build towers to their passing yes, to their fame everlasting / Here he comes chopping and reaping, hear him laugh at their cheating / And time waits for no man, and it won’t wait for me / Yes, time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me / Drink in your summer, gather your corn / The dreams of the night time will vanish by dawn

— “Time Waits for No One” (recorded by the Rolling Stones)

Johansen, David & Sylvain Sylvain

You call that love in French but it’s just Frenchette / I’ve been to France, so let’s just dance . . . You come on like it’s all natural, darling / But you know, oh it’s really only naturalette / It’s just like all of your leathers, darling, they don’t scare me / I know it’s really only leatherette

— “Frenchette” (performed by David Johansen)

King, Ben E., Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller

When the night has come / And the land is dark / And the moon is the only light we’ll see / No, I won’t be afraid / Oh, I won’t be afraid / Just as long as you stand, stand by me

— “Stand By Me” (recorded by Ben E. King)

Kuperferburg, Tuli

Monday, nothing / Tuesday, nothing / Wednesday and Thursday, nothing / Friday for a change / a little more nothing / Saturday once more nothing

— “Nothing” (recorded by the Fugs)

Lennon, John

I don’t believe in Beatles / I just believe in me, Yoko and me, that’s reality / I was the Walrus, but now I’m John / And so dear friends, you’ll just have to carry on / The dream is over


Lightfoot, Gordon

If I could read your mind, love / What a tale your thoughts could tell / Just like a paperback novel / The kind the drugstores sell / When you reach the part where the heartaches come / The hero would be me / But heroes often fail / And you won’t read that book again / Because the ending’s just too hard to take

—”If You Could Read My Mind”

Madera, John & David White

You don’t own me / Don’t try to change me in any way / you don’t own me / Don’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay.

— “You Don’t Own Me” (an early statement of women’s liberation, recorded by Lesley Gore)

Mann, Barry & Cynthia Weil

Saturday night at the movies / Who cares what picture you see? / When you’re hugging with your baby / in the last row of the balcony.

— “Saturday Night at the Movies” (recorded by the Drifters)

Maresta, Ernie

Oh yeah, I’m the type of guy that likes to roam around / I’m never in one place, I roam from town to town / And when I find myself a-fallin’ for some girl / I hop right into that car of mine and drive around the world

—”The Wanderer” (recorded by Dion)

Marr, Johnny & Morrissey

And if a double-decker bus crashes into us / To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die / And if a 10-ton truck kills the both of us / To die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine.

—”There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (recorded by the Smiths)

McVie, Christine

You can take me to paradise / And then again you can be cold as ice / I’m over my head / Oh but it sure feels nice

—”Over My Head” (recorded by Fleetwood Mac

Meltzer, Tom

Well I had an aunt and she was in a coma / So we loaded up her bed and we took her up to MoMA / We got through the door, you wouldn’t believe what began / She sat up and started screaming, “Hey, where is that Paul Cezanne?”

—”Paul Cezanne,” performed by Five Chinese Brothers

Miller, Roger

Well, ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd / Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd / Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd / But you can be happy if you’ve a mind to / All ya gotta do is put your mind to it / Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it.

—”You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd”

Murphy, Elliott

Oh won’t you be my night connection / I’ll give you true highway affection / Please don’t ask where we’re goin’ / I’m tryin’ to race the light / And we can drive all night / ‘Cause we got what’s left and we got what’s right.

—”Drive All Night”

Nelson, Willie

How’s your new love? I heard that he’s doin’ fine / I heard you told him / That you’d love him till the end of time / Now that’s the same thing that you told me / Seems like just the other day / Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away.

— “Funny How Time Slips Away”

Petty, Tom

It was kind of cold that night / She stood alone on her balcony / She could hear the cars roll by out on 441 / Like waves crashin’ on the beach / And for one desperate moment there / He crept back in her memory / God it’s so painful, something that’s so close / And still so far out of reach

—”American Girl”

Phillips, John

I used to live in New York City, everything there was dark and dirty / Outside my window was a steeple / With a clock that always said 12:30

—”Twelve-thirty” (recorded by the Mamas & Papas)

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray./ I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day / I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A. / California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

—”California Dreamin’,” recorded by the Mamas & the Papas


It’s been seven hours and fifteen days / Since u took your love away / I go out every night and sleep all day / Since u took your love away

—”Nothing Compares 2 U,”  recorded by Sinead O’Connor

Prine, John

There’s a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes / Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose.

—”Sam Stone”

Reed, Lou

It’s hard being a man, living in a garbage pail / My landlady called me up, she tried to hit me with a mop . . . I live with 13 dead cats / A purple dog that wears spats / They’re all out livin’ in the hall / And I can’t stand it anymore.

— “I Can’t Stand It”

Candy says, “I hate the quiet places that cause the smallest taste of what will be”  / Candy says, “I hate the big decisions that cause endless revisions in my mind.”

—”Candy Says” (recorded by the Velvet Underground)

I’m beginning to see the light / Wine in the morning and some breakfast at night.

— “Beginning to See the Light” (recorded by the Velvet Underground)

Reid, Keith & Gary Brooker

The room was humming harder / As the ceiling flew away / When we called out for another drink / The waiter brought a tray / And so it was that later / As the miller told his tale / That her face, at first just ghostly / Turned a whiter shade of pale

—”A Whiter Shade of Pale” (recorded by Procol Harum)

Robinson, Smokey, William Moore & Marvin Tarpin

People say I’m the life of the party, because I tell a joke or two / Although I might be laughing loud and hearty, deep inside I’m blue/ So take a good look at my face / You’ll see my smile looks out of place / If you look closer, it’s easy to trace / The tracks of my tears

—”The Tracks of My Tears” (recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles)

Seger, Bob

Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.

—”Against the Wind”

I awoke last night to the sound of thunder / How far off I sat and wondered / Started humming a song from 1962 / Ain’t it funny how the night moves / When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose / Strange how the night moves / With autumn closing in.

—”Night Moves”

Shindell, Richard

Though I know it’s hard to tell / I hope that what’s-his-name treats you well / I still maintain that he’s a bum / But it’s your money — have some fun.

—”Are You Happy Now?”

Simon, Paul

I can gather all the news I need on the weather report

—”The Only Living Boy in New York”

In my little town I never meant nothing / I was just my father’s son / Saving my money, dreamin’ of glory / Twitching like a finger on a trigger of a gun.

—”My Little Town”

I was 21 years when I wrote this song / I’m 22 now but I won’t be for long / Time hurries on / And the leaves that are green turn to brown.”

—”Leaves That Are Green” (Great line—at least until you realize that if he was 21 when he wrote the song, it doesn’t make sense that it would contain a lyric saying he’s 22 now.)

Smith, Don & Cyril Vetter

She loved me so long and she loved me so hard / I finally passed on in her front yard / It wasn’t wine that I had too much of / It was a double shot of my baby’s love.

—”Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” (recorded by the Swingin’ Medallions)

Springsteen, Bruce

When the whistle blows, girl, I’m down on the street / I’m home, I’m out of my work clothes / When I’m out in the street, I walk the way I wanna walk

—”Out in the Street”

It was out at the crossroads, down ’round Willow Bank / Seen a Buick with Ohio plates, behind the wheel was Frank / Well I chased him through them county roads till a sign said, ‘Canadian border 5 miles from here’ / I pulled over the side of the highway and watched his taillights disappear.

—”Highway Patrolman”

Now those memories come back to haunt me / they haunt me like a curse / Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true / Or is it something worse?

—”The River”

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack / I went out for a ride and I never went back / Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing / I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

—”Hungry Heart”

Sometimes I sit up in the darkness / And I watch my baby as she sleeps / Then I climb in bed and I hold her tight / I just lay there awake in the middle of the night / Thinking’ ’bout the wreck on the highway.

—”Wreck on the Highway”

Stewart, Rod

I could be home in time for Christmas If you want me to be / There’s a plane leaves here at midnight, arriving at three / But I’m a bit financially embarrased I must admit / To tell you the truth my honey, I haven’t a cent

—”Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight”

Turtles, The

Elenore, gee, I think you’re swell / And you really do me well / You’re my pride and joy, et cetera

(The Turtles reportedly intended “Elenore” to be a parody of their earlier hit “Happy Together”; the deliberately cliched lyrics were apparently a dig at the group’s record label, which had been hounding the Turtles for another “Happy Together.” But “Elenore” was a Top Ten smash despite its inane verse.)

Tyson, Ian

If I get there before the snow flies, and if things are goin’ good / You could meet me if I sent you down the fare / But by then it would be winter / There ain’t too much for you to do / And those winds sure can blow cold way out there

—”Four Strong Winds”

Waits, Tom

Outside another yellow moon / Punched a hole in the nighttime, yes / I climb through the window and down to the street / Shining like a new dime / The downtown trains are full / With all those Brooklyn girls / They try so hard to break out of their little worlds.

—”Downtown Train”

Whitfield, Norman & Barrett Strong

Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by / I say to myself you’re such a lucky guy / To have a girl like her is truly a dream come true / Out of all the fellows in the world she belongs to me / But it was just my ‘imagination running away with me.

—”Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” (recorded by the Temptations)

Young, Neil

Talk to me, my long lost friend, tell me how you are / Are you happy with your circumstance, are you driving a new car? / Does it get you where you wanna go, with a seven- year warranty / Or just another 100,000 miles away from days that used to be?

—”Days That Used to Be”

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