Kiddo#2’s discovery

Kiddo#2 was singing while I washed dishes, when suddenly she stopped. “Why are all the songs you like about love?”

I honestly cannot remember which song it was she had been singing at the time, but does it really matter? If you’re listening to the current gleanings from pop/light rock radio, you’re going to be surfeit of love songs.

I replied, “Most of the songs out there are love songs.”

Then I returned to washing dishes. A moment or two later, Kiddo#2 ventured, “How about If I Had A Million Dollars?”

I said, “It is. He says ‘if I had a million dollars, I’d buy you love.’

She gave a pensive frown, but fortunately she didn’t dredge up any more samples. Maybe “Life’s Been Good” or “Bicycle Race” (the chorus to which, to my chagrin, the Kiddos can sing even though they’ve never heard the song. Don’t ask.) Or “Mr. Roboto,” which Kiddo#1 used to call “Secret-Secret-I’ve-Got-A-Secret.” He was delighted to realize two of his favorite songs were actually the same song.

I didn’t even touch the crop of failed-love songs (“How the hell’d we wind up like this?” Indeed.) Someday, somehow she’ll realize that American culture glorifies pair-bonding and romantic love to the point of insanity, and it’s quite possible I’m helping her along that primrose path. The Christian rock which makes its way onto my playlists isn’t sufficient to offset the romance songs, but I guess the kid-songs that she hears from Music Together have given her a basic grounding in non-love songs. Jim-Along Josie, anyone? How about Ally-Bally-Bee?

And yes, she knows from my forays into Mozart that you can have really powerful music with no words at all. (This is the same little girl who was barking Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to her stuffed puppy last year, or who inserts her own running monologue into the Ode To Joy and makes it scan.)

The funny thing is, I remember making the same realization as a young girl, that all these people on the radio sang about love, and didn’t they have anything better to talk about?

Kiddo#1, about six months ago, said dreamily, “The songs on the radio are all so unselfish,” causing me and my Patient Husband to choke on our coffee before feebly managing, “How do you figure?”

K#1 replied, “Every single song mentions you.”

Er, yeah: in the context of how YOU can gratify ME. I hardly call that unselfish. But of course, that led to a week and a half of me and the Patient Husband abruptly calling song titles across the house to verify that maybe we’d found a youless song.

Me: Bohemian Rhapsody?
PH: ‘Didn’t mean to make you cry.’
Me: Nuts.
PH: It’s A Kind Of Magic
Me: ‘A bell that rings inside your mind.’
PH: That’s ‘your.’
Me: Does that count?
PH: Well, maybe.

Yes, we are sick and have too many wasted brain cells.

If you’re curious, “Come Sail Away,” though addressed to someone offstage and filled with you-understood, never actually uses the word “you.”


  1. xdpaul

    I may be off, but I believe “Lost in the Supermarket” by the Clash is purely pseudobiographical. Not a “you” in it. I’ll have to give it a listen to be sure.

    However, I can’t think of a single Elvis Costello song that doesn’t have “you” in there somewhere, and I think the only reason “Hang On St. Christopher” by Tom Waits doesn’t have a “you” in it is because it was written by a grammar mangler.

    What is really irritating about this game you’ve started is that there are a fair number of songs that you have to sing in your head, all the way through, and then the last line will toss one in for no good reason. “Pictures of Lily” by the Who made me nuts.

    Thanks for passing this disease on.

  2. Ivy

    Tell me about it. I finally got one. When Giants Walked. It’s filk, not popular music, and it’s amazing.

  3. philangelus

    In all fairness, we have something called the Internet where you can google up the lyrics to anything you want.

    It’s addictive, though, isn’t it? Eventually someone will put up a website called youless-dot-com and catalog all these lovely discoveries.

  4. xdpaul

    Oh, sure, you can look up the lyrics online, but you haven’t got the truth until you hear it croaking through the throat.

    Youless-dot-com is a brilliant idea.

  5. Ivy

    Jane, you’ve started a meme. We could do this as and it will draw an unreasonable amount of people (think lolcats) and soon DJs will be announcing Mariah Carey’s latest “youless hit”.

  6. Ivy

    Ha! Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. This is addicting.

  7. Ivy

    Does thee/thou count? If not we have America the Beautiful.

    The word “you” does not appear in any version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme songs, not the 1987 version, the Flash Forward version, nor any of the 2003 versions, of which there were, I think, three variations.

    This has been fun, but I think I’m done now.

  8. philangelus

    Thee and Thou would count as “you,” yes. Sorry.

    As for the TURTLE Power song, sorry:

    When you stand for what you believe in
    And find the strength to do what’s right
    That’s Turtle Power


    Call April O’Neill in on this case and you better hurry up
    There’s no time to waste

    Unless you’re talking about a different song? That’s from the first movie version.

  9. karen =^.,.^=

    um, ok, this probably won’t count, but how about odd little jingles that get stunk in your head at random times? like those silly things you learn when you’re a kid and they never go away? take this one for instance:

    OH – i wish i was a fishie in the sea
    oh i wish i was a fishie in the sea
    i’d go swimming in the nudie
    without a bathing suitie
    OH – i wish i was a fishie in the sea!

    no “you” there (though perhaps a blatant cry for help!)

  10. mercurial scribe

    Dang it! Now I’m going to be playing that game with the Husband for days…

  11. philangelus

    Sorry, Mercurial. I re-infected myself with this game. I keep scanning songs on the radio to find the youless ones.

    I thought I had one with “Leader of the Band,” but in the last stanza he addresses his father directly. So that’s out.

    Narrative songs seem to be the most likely candidates, but I did find another one: “The Freshmen” by the Verve Pipe is youless.

  12. karen =^.,.^=

    i did find an actual real song without “you” in it today. it’s by nightwish and called “for the heart i once had”. it’s very sad, and i think it’s about either a girl losing her true love or a mother losing her son – either way, it’s heartwrenching and without hope. but it is beautiful in lyrics and vocals are amazing. and it is “youless”. we listen to weird music around here. my teens are most distressed that i like symphonic metal as much as they do.

  13. philangelus

    Got another one: Crazy Little Thing Called Love, by Queen.

  14. CricketB

    I hear what you mean, about “you” songs, and too much love and broken love. Most of the ones I liked enough to find lyrics for don’t emphasize them.

    Found some!

    Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, by Green Day

    If I had a hammer — not a single You!

    Puff the Magic Dragon

    Almost Youless:

    Blowin in the Wind
    – How many roads must a man walk down
    – Before you call him a man?

    The Unicorn

    Unwritten, by Natasha Benningfield. (spelling) Not purely “youless”, but not about romantic love. I see it as, “I am your life. I can’t live myself for you — you have to do it yourself. So go do it!” That’s good for the person. Although, if the life is anthropomorphized that much, then maybe it can also be selfish and want to be made better.

    Ordinary Day, by Vanessa Carlton. Close.
    – You’d swear those words could heal.
    – Live while you can

    Ordinary Day, by Great Big Sea.
    – It’s up to you now if you sink or swim,

    All My Life’s a Circle.
    – But I can’t tell you why;

    Today (While the Blossom’s Still Cling to the Vine)
    – You’ll know who I am by the songs that I sing
    – I’ll feast at your table, Ill sleep in your clover

    Up, Shania Twain
    – Things like that can make you cry

    Casual Viewin’, By 54-40

    Blackbird singing in the dead of night, John Lennon & Paul McCartney

    With A Little Help From My Friends, Joe Cocker

    Bird On A Wire, Leonard Cohen