The other day I was trying to play “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine).” As I gasped for breath and desperately tried to spit out the words (without literally spitting on the table), my mind turned to other songs that are absolutely jammed with words. Songs in which the singer sounds like he or she can barely keep up (or breathe) and may just faint. Here’s what I came up with in chronological order.
Note that I didn’t include hip hop since the very essence of hip hop is jamming a lot of words into a song).
Spotify playlist (minus “Sam,” which isn’t on Spotfiy, at https://open.spotify.com/user/123150692/playlist/74BXBt0No1v3x7AvojTqkh.
- 1955: “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard
- 1962: “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Hank Snow (a cover of an originally Australian song – if you want to hear the Australian version, click here)
- 1965: “Subterranean Homesick Blues” by Bob Dylan – The template for many of the songs that follow below
- 1967: “Goin’ Down” by The Monkees
- 1974: “Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)” by Re-union
- 1975: “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith
- 1978: “I Wanna Be Sedated” by The Ramones
- 1979: “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band
- 1980: “Pay to Cum” by Bad Brains
- 1987: “Why Can’t I Be You?” by The Cure
- 1987: “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M.
- 1991: “Give It Away” by Red Hot Chili Peppers – This definitely pushes the line with hip-hop since Anthony Kiedis is barely singing here.
- 1991: “Sam” by The Meat Puppets
- 1995: “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette – Pretty much everything she sang early on was packed with words but this one makes the list for the venom with which the lyrics are delivered.
- 1998: “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies – Like “Give It Away,” this one pushes the limit on spoken word.
- 2011: “KMAG YOYO” by Hayes Carll – Very much in the tradition of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “It’s the End of the World,” and one of the best Gulf War songs written. (Oh and it means “Kiss My Ass Guys, You’re On Your Own”.)
- 2013: “Hopeful” by Josh Ritter