Songs With Historical Errors In Their Lyrics

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by SJB, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. SJB

    SJB Beloved Parasitic Nuisance Thread Starter

    There's a "math errors" thread, let's have one for the social sciences. (A search for thread titles with "historical" didn't show a thread like this one. Apologies if I missed a synonym.)

    A couple of examples for starters. U2, "Pride (In the Name of Love)." Bono sings "early morning, April fourth" while recounting a tragic event that actually occurred in the early evening.

    "Rip Van Ruben," a demo recorded by Andy Partridge as a candidate for the Nonsuch album. The lyric "Dream you're Frank L. Richards and this is the great land of Oz" arose from Andy's misremembering the name of author L. Frank Baum, as he has subsequently recalled with some embarrassment.
    uzn007 likes this.
  2. hutlock

    hutlock Forum Resident

    Cleveland, OH, USA
    Toto - Africa

    Kilimanjaro is really nowhere near the Serengeti.
    Shaddam IV, razerx, DTK and 6 others like this.
  3. MikeM

    MikeM Forum Resident

    Youngstown, Ohio
    "Nashville Cats" – The Lovin' Spoonful

    "And the record man said every one was a yellow Sun record from Nashville."

    Sun Records was/is located in Memphis.
  4. TStewart422

    TStewart422 Forum Resident

    Nashville, TN
    Motörhead - Jack the Ripper. Nearly everything.
    Ignatius likes this.
  5. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    David Johansen, "Swaheto Woman." He meant Soweto.
  6. The original version of Jan and Dean's TAMI Show theme "From All Over the World" mentioned that "The Rolling Stones from Liverpool" would be there. This was corrected to "London town" for the commercial release.
  7. Sheik Yerbouti

    Sheik Yerbouti Forum Resident

    "The Walrus was Paul"

  8. jwis206

    jwis206 Forum Resident

    Massapequa, NY
    Dylan's John Wesley Hardin(g) ;)
  9. Dingo

    Dingo Forum Resident

    " Our shoreline was never invaded, our country was never in flames
    This is the calm we breathe, this is a feeling too strong to contain
    Still it aches like tetanus, it reeks of politics
    Signatures stained with tears, who can remember
    We've got to remember"

    Midnight Oil forgot that during WW2, Darwin was bombed repeatedly by Japanese aircraft with the loss of many lives and great destruction.
    Japanes mini-submarines infiltrated Sydney Harbour with intent to destroy shipping.
    Still, never let history get in the way of a good lyric eh!
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  10. LandHorses

    LandHorses Forum Resident

    New Joisey
    My daddy was a cop on the east side of Chicago
    Back in the U.S.A. back in the bad old days
    Zack, extravaganza and Old Zorki II like this.
  11. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Folknik likes this.
  12. the pope ondine

    the pope ondine Forum Resident

    I recall from another thread lou reeds 'the day john kennedy died' used some artistic license (his university football team ws not playing on tv when the announcement came)
    DTK likes this.
  13. Brian Lux

    Brian Lux One in the Crowd

    Placerville, CA
    Zager and Evans, "In the Year 2525", hopefully everything.
  14. ndoheny

    ndoheny Forum Resident

    Sacramento, Ca
    A Day In The Life - the line about a politician crashing his car while on drugs was from an article about Tara Browne, a Gueniss heir, dying in a car crash. Tara was neither in the House of Lords nor on drugs or alcohol while crashing the car.
    crispi and CBS 65780 like this.
  15. karmaman

    karmaman Forum Resident

    should be "factual errors", no? your first example is "historically inaccurate", the second is not.
  16. ndoheny

    ndoheny Forum Resident

    Sacramento, Ca
    The Band - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

    "In the winter of '65, we were hungry, just barely alive
    By May the tenth, Richmond had fell, it's a time I remember, oh so well".

    Richmond was captured on April 3rd, 1865.
    wayne66, DTK and PonceDeLeroy like this.
  17. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    Well, I think Paich explained that he had never been to Africa when he wrote those lyrics. He probably deserves a pass, just as Sade, who was born in Africa, should probably get a pass for writing “Coast to Coast, LA to Chicago”
    DHamilton, jtw, uzn007 and 4 others like this.
  18. urasam2

    urasam2 A Famous Potato

    The Battle Of New Orleans (Lonnie Donegan )
    Three mistakes- the battle took place in 1815, not 1814 as stated in the song, and the American forces were led by General Jackson, not Packenham who actually led the British forces, and he was a general not a colonel.
    " In 1814 we took a little trip
    Along with Colonel Packenham down the mighty Mississip"
    Brian Mc likes this.
  19. CBS 65780

    CBS 65780 "Could I do one more immediately?"

    Dublin, Ireland
    Paul McCartney claimed that the 'blew his mind out in a car' reference was not about Guinness heir Tara Browne but about a politician whose mind was 'blown' on drugs and didn't move their car in London traffic when the light changed. Lennon's version of the origin was more to do with Tara Browne 'running' a red light at speed resulting in the wreck that killed him. It's a sad story; his girlfriend and co-passenger at the time, Suki Potier, later dated Brian Jones until his death. She herself was killed in another car crash in 1981.
    DTK and ndoheny like this.
  20. crispi

    crispi Vinyl Archaeologist

    Well, you don’t have to go to Africa in order to find out where the Kilimanjaro is in relation to the Serengeti. You just need a map. :)
    Artdob, negative1, scousette and 3 others like this.
  21. SirNoseDVoid

    SirNoseDVoid Forum Resident

    The reggae classic "Ark of the Covenant" by the Congos, where they're actually singing about Noah's Ark ('A pair of everything was saved in the ark').
    PJayBe, uzn007 and Chemguy like this.
  22. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976

    I believe Gordon Lightfoot subsequently changed a particular line in 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' for live shows after it was pointed out to him by the families of the crew who died in that tragedy that his lyric on the studio version regarding an unclosed hatch causing the sinking was inaccurate in all likelihood.

    Does that count...?
  23. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    Some historian shall please correct me if I am incorrect...

    ABBA sings that...At Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender.

    He was defeated at Waterloo, but the surrender was later and somewhere else, was it not?
    Jimmy B., Shak Cohen and Vangro like this.
  24. Rufus McDufus

    Rufus McDufus Forum Resident

    Twickenham, UK
    "Jesus Was A Cross Maker" (Judee Sill).

    Arguable. Many think even the idea he was a carpenter is flawed as the original Greek word "tekton" could easily mean "builder", "stone mason" or even handyman.

    I realise I may be misinterpreting the lyrics here...
    PJayBe likes this.
  25. karmaman

    karmaman Forum Resident

    creative licence rather than an error. the narrator is pointing out that the protagonist is a "heartbreaker" and will eventually have his own heart broken.
    the "cross maker" reference is to make clear the analogy (i.e. jesus was a carpenter but was later crucified). had she said "jesus was a carpenter" the comparison becomes too vague.
    at least that's what i take from the song.
    monotone, El Rich-o, Folknik and 2 others like this.

Share This Page