The Red Pen of Doom shoots up Train’s DRIVE BY

Here is an interesting song, and I mean “interesting” in a tragic, train-wreck sort of way.

Because it’s a decent melody by a good band with some of the WORST LYRICS EVER.

And the music video itself isn’t horrible at all. It’s fine. The words, though, they hurt me.

And I say this as a fan of Train, a man who has some of their songs and believes MEET VIRGINIA has creative lyrics for a pop song.

First up: the video, which I hope the evil known as VEVO lets you watch.

See? The song isn’t bad. The video is fine.

It’s the stupid lyrics.

Let the red ink flow.

DRIVE BY by Train

On the other side of a street I knew
Stood a girl that looked like you
I guess thats deja vu
But I thought this can’t be true
Cause you moved to west L.A or New York or Santa Fe
Or where or ever to get away from me

(OK, so far, this is alright. Nothing great, nothing horrible. The horribleness is hiding and saving its strength for an ambush.)

Oh but that one night
Was more than just right
I didn’t leave you cause I was all through
Oh I was overwhelmed and frankly scared as hell
Because I really fell for you

Oh I swear to you
I’ll be there for you
This is not a drive by

(I believe the singer — or whoever wrote these lyrics — is trying to say, “This isn’t infatuation, or a one-night stand, but something longer lasting and meaningful, possibly leading up to a white dress, a white picket fence and three years of white Pampers.” This phrase means, “A gang murders that utilizes one driver and one or more shooters, who send a wall of lethal lead at the homicide victim while making a rolling getaway from the crime.” So the message is kinda-sorta mixed. People hear this and don’t think of happy love. They think of Glocks and funerals.)

Just a shy guy looking for a two ply
Hefty bag to hold my love

(Because the only thing more romantic than a drive-by shooting is the leading national brand of garbage bags.)

When you move me everything is groovy
They don’t like it sue me
mmm the way you do me

(The bad pop trifecta: a word from the ’60s that needs to be retired, a reference to litigation and a crude reference to sex.)

Oh I swear to you
I’ll be there for you
This is not a drive by
On the upside of a downward spiral

(If he were definitely referring to NINE INCH NAILS, he’d get bonus points, but he’s not, so he doesn’t.)

My love for you went viral

(A tiny bonus point for not completing the cliche by name-dropping Facebook or Twitter.)

And I loved you every mile you drove away
But now here you are again
So let’s skip the “how you been”And 
get down to the “more than friends” at last

(“You didn’t really like me before, and you drove far, far, away, but now that you’re back, please pay attention to me as a boyfriend instead of some man you don’t really care about.” I believe that sums it up.)

Oh but that one night
Is still the highlight
I didn’t need you until I came to
and I was overwhelmed and frankly scared as hell
Because I really fell for you

Oh I swear to you
I’ll be there for you
This is not a drive by
Just a shy guy looking for a two ply
Hefty bag to hold my love
When you move me everything is groovy
They don’t like it sue me
mmm the way you do me
Oh I swear to you
I’ll be there for you
This is not a drive by

(The songwriter got ALL the bad cliches and phrases of this song into one tidy package right there. Bam-bam-bam-bam-bam-bam! Kind of like a emptying the clip during a drive by. I am impressed.)

Please believe that when I leave
There’s nothing up my sleeve but love for you
And a little time to get my head together too

(To woo somebody, it’s not overly bright to hint that you’re not quite right in the head.) 

On the other side of a street I knew
Stood a girl that looked like you
I guess thats deja vu
But I thought this can’t be true
Cause

Oh I swear to you
I’ll be there for you
This is not a drive by
Just a shy guy looking for a two ply
Hefty bag to hold my love
When you move me everything is groovy
They don’t like it sue me
mmm the way you do me
Oh I swear to you
I’ll be there for you
This is not a drive by

(A repeat and recap of all the bad lines from before, in case we hadn’t heard them the first, second or third time.)

Bottom line: A successful band like Train probably has songwriters for some — or a lot — of their stuff. Which is fine. You need to focus on touring, performing and shooting music videos with hot models. None of those are bad things. The words, though, do matter.

They matter as much as the bass line, the lighting on the set and the type of leather jacket worn by the lead singer. Spend a little more time and money on the words, because I used to hear “Train” and think of two good songs. Now, the first two things that pop into my head will be “drive by shootings” and “Hefty bags.” Which is too bad.

Related posts:

###

This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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70 Comments

Filed under 2 Music Video Monday

70 responses to “The Red Pen of Doom shoots up Train’s DRIVE BY

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  39. Susie G

    I thought he was talking about how he bagged her one night and took off on her without getting her number….now he has spotted her and want’s to reconnect. He did the runner because he was so overwhelmed by feelings not because she was a pig…..lame excuse really….

    Like

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  47. Too funny! I love the red pen idea.

    Train has a bad habit of writing a respectable first (and sometimes second) verse, and a (what they seem to think is) respectable chorus, then basically relying on a catchy tune to keep the song intact. Also seen in Drops of Jupiter and Hey, Soul Sister.

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  57. Jen Kreft

    Hilarious. I thought “two-ply” referred to toilet paper, because the sentence seems to end there.

    Like

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  64. annmariegamble

    The 14-year-old just came and shut the door of my study.

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  66. Oh. My. God. (You can tell how much this song irritates me by my excessive use of punctuation).

    It’s just plain awful. The song. The video. The lyrics. After reading this, I just had to find out who did write it. According to about.com, it was “Amund Bjorklund and Espen Lind of the Norwegian songwriting and production team Espionage”.

    They’ve also written for the likes of Beyonce, Jessica Simpson, and Chris Brown.

    The Hefty bag line had me hiding my face at work to avoid being seen laughing, alone in my office.

    Thank you so much for writing about this. I love analysis of bad lyrics!
    You might also want to read The Axis of Ego’s “Narrative Lyrical Analysis” of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA”. Also hilarious :D (here’s the link: http://wp.me/p1h7Sv-4b)

    Like

  67. joeynga

    “Hefty bag to hold my love”? Oh dear! That’s a love song? Love for what? Is the man singing a garbage man? Who else would sing of love for a 2-ply? His girlfriend should feel secure in their relationship, after all, he’s looking obviously for love that lasts (and is hefty, hefty, hefty! not wimpy, wimpy wimpy!)

    Totally craptastic lyrics! Love it!

    I say we get onto analyzing something like the lyrics of Metallica, which not only showcase excellent guitar riffs, but also some pretty kick-ass lyrics.

    Like

  68. Em

    This made me spit coffee onto my keyboard. Very well done, sir. You just earned yourself a new follower. :)

    Like

  69. These lines “Just a shy guy looking for a two ply / Hefty bag to hold my love” are pretty much the best worst lines in a love song ever. So, so wrong.

    Like

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