So last night I heard “Give Me Three Steps” on the radio. Nice to hear some catchy Skynyrd without having to try to get past the whole praise-of-segregationist-governors thing.
Lyrically, the first verse of “Give Me Three Steps” is brilliant:
I was cutting the rug
Down at a place called The Jug
With a girl named Linda Lu
When in walked a man
With a gun in his hand
And he was looking for you know who
He said, “Hey there fellow
With the hair colored yellow,
Watcha tryin’ to prove?
‘Cause that’s my woman there
And I’m a man who cares
And this might be all for you”
The rhyme scheme there — I’m unsure exactly how one writes these things — is something like: AAB, CCB, DDB(ish), EEB. That’s fairly elaborate and very satisfying and generally pretty cool.
Sadly, though, they can’t sustain that through the rest of the song. The later verses are catchy and funny, and the overall story is amusing, but after that audacious beginning, there’s a bit of a let-down that the initial rhyme scheme gets abandoned.
The same thing happens with another brilliant story-song, Prince’s “Raspberry Beret,” which starts off:
I was working part time in a five-and-dime
My boss was Mr. McGee
He told me several times that he didn’t like my kind
‘Cause I was a bit 2 leisurely
Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing
But different than the day before
That’s when I saw her, ooh, I saw her
She walked in through the out door, out door …
That first stanza has the same rhyme scheme as the beginning of “Three Steps,” then varies a bit, and the latter verses, again, wander even further from that initial AAB, CCB pattern. It’s also a great song all the way through, but there’s that same tiny let-down as it strays from the exhilarating opening rhyme scheme.
So anyway, here’s my question: Are there any pop songs (rock, country, rap, Broadway — any genre) that sustain this AAB, CCB rhyme scheme from start to finish? It seems like Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin, Gilbert & Sullivan or Irving Berlin ought to have pulled that off at some point, but I can’t think of any examples just now.
The closest thing I can come to this is “Blinded by the Light,” in which a young Bruce Springsteen sets out to channel Bob Dylan and winds up, instead, channeling Lewis Carroll:
Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
With a boulder on my shoulder feelin’ kinda older I tripped the merry-go-round
With this very unpleasing sneezing and wheezing the calliope crashed to the ground
Some all-hot half-shot was headin’ for the hot spot snappin’ his fingers clappin’ his hands
And some fleshpot mascot was tied into a lover’s knot with a whatnot in her hand
And now young Scott with a slingshot finally found a tender spot and throws his lover in the sand
And some bloodshot forget-me-not whispers daddy’s within earshot save the buckshot turn up the band
I couldn’t begin to chart out the rhyme scheme of that song, and it’s not entirely consistent — varying between three and four internal rhymes per line — but its sustained for the entire song. Sure, it’s easier to stick to a rhyme scheme when you’re rattling off cryptic nearly nonsense lines like:
In Zanzibar a shootin’ star was ridin’ in a side car hummin’ a lunar tune …
But it’s still a dizzying and dazzling feat to keep that up for four verses without sliding into utter nonsense.
And but so anyway, can anyone think of other songs in the “Three Steps”/”Raspberry Beret” mode? And are there any that keep that rhyme scheme all the way through?