Good songs with lyrics that don't rhyme

bottlenecker

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Lyrics don't have to rhyme.

Rennie of the handsome family is a truly great lyricist and this song is a personal favorite of mine. The video is first because lyrics are meant to be heard not read. Lyrics are printed below for reference.




My name I don't remember, though, I hail from Ohio
I had a wife and children, good tires on my car
What took me from my home and put me in the earth
Was the mouth of a deep, dark hole I found behind my barn
We'd been filling it with garbage as long as you could count
Kitchen scraps and dead cows, tractors broken down
But never did I hear one thing hit the ground
And slowly I came to fear that this was a bottomless hole
I went out behind the barn and stared down in that hole
Late into the evening my mind would not let go
So I got out my ropes and a rusty claw-foot tub
And I rigged myself a chariot to ride down in that hole
My wife, she did help me, she fed me down the ropes
And then I sank away from the surface of this world
With the last rope pulled tight, I had not reached the end
And in anger I swung there, down in that dark abyss
So I got out my knife, I told my wife goodbye
I cut loose from the ropes and fell on down that hole
And still I am there falling down in this evil pit
But until I hit the bottom, I won't believe it's bottomless
 

Blue Bill

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Steve Miller had some doozies on Take the money and Run:

This is a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin' better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose
They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso
That's where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie Sue took the money and run

Hoo-hoo-hoo, billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes
Bobbie Sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day

Yikes. IIRC, Rolling Stone recognized him for this song, as the most ridiculous attempt at rhyming lyrics.
 

JIMMY JAZZMAN

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This is totally unrhyming: The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in German.
I listened to that song 10 times and there are no rhymes at all. But maybe the Germans
don't care.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Lyrics don't have to rhyme.

Rennie of the handsome family is a truly great lyricist and this song is a personal favorite of mine. The video is first because lyrics are meant to be heard not read. Lyrics are printed below for reference.




My name I don't remember, though, I hail from Ohio
I had a wife and children, good tires on my car
What took me from my home and put me in the earth
Was the mouth of a deep, dark hole I found behind my barn
We'd been filling it with garbage as long as you could count
Kitchen scraps and dead cows, tractors broken down
But never did I hear one thing hit the ground
And slowly I came to fear that this was a bottomless hole
I went out behind the barn and stared down in that hole
Late into the evening my mind would not let go
So I got out my ropes and a rusty claw-foot tub
And I rigged myself a chariot to ride down in that hole
My wife, she did help me, she fed me down the ropes
And then I sank away from the surface of this world
With the last rope pulled tight, I had not reached the end
And in anger I swung there, down in that dark abyss
So I got out my knife, I told my wife goodbye
I cut loose from the ropes and fell on down that hole
And still I am there falling down in this evil pit
But until I hit the bottom, I won't believe it's bottomless

You're right, it's not bound to any rhyme patterns, but I do see rhymes and near-rhymes in there.

Here's one with fewer:

 

Fiesta Red

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Steve Miller had some doozies on Take the money and Run:

This is a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin' better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose
They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso
That's where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie Sue took the money and run

Hoo-hoo-hoo, billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes
Bobbie Sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day

Yikes. IIRC, Rolling Stone recognized him for this song, as the most ridiculous attempt at rhyming lyrics.
I always thought those were some fairly clever forced rhymes…I don’t understand the Steve Miller hate out there.
 

bottlenecker

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You're right, it's not bound to any rhyme patterns, but I do see rhymes and near-rhymes in there.
I think the rhymes in bottomless hole are not intended as rhymes. They're placed to not feel like rhymes when it's sung. They seemed to go out of their way to avoid a dark abyss/bottomless rhyme at the end. I struggled when covering it to remember not to swap placement of dark abyss and evil pit.

"Rustling around, trying not to make a sound" is curious in your example, because it seems like there's one intentional rhyme.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Steve Miller had some doozies on Take the money and Run:

This is a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin' better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose
They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso
That's where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie Sue took the money and run

Hoo-hoo-hoo, billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes
Bobbie Sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day

Yikes. IIRC, Rolling Stone recognized him for this song, as the most ridiculous attempt at rhyming lyrics.

Yup! Those are some really fun rhymes and near-rhymes. Love it!
 

Charlie Bernstein

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I think the rhymes in bottomless hole are not intended as rhymes. . . .
Coulda fooled me!

Songwriters make liberal and intentional use of rhyme, alliteration, consonance, and assonance. They do it to make the sound of the words themselves musical.

It doesn't have to be obvious. Sometimes it's better if it's not — as in "Bottomless Hole."
 

Charlie Bernstein

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PS - By the way, you're right, it's a terrific song. I like the way he'll only believe it's bottomless if he hits bottom.

It reminds me a little of this tune, the way something strange gets so stuck in your head it becomes an obsession:

 




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