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Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?

Jason Xion Wang 03 Nov 14 - 09:05 PM
Jason Xion Wang 03 Nov 14 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,Gerry 03 Nov 14 - 09:38 PM
BrooklynJay 03 Nov 14 - 10:25 PM
Bill D 03 Nov 14 - 10:54 PM
Jason Xion Wang 03 Nov 14 - 11:25 PM
Jason Xion Wang 04 Nov 14 - 12:21 AM
Sandra in Sydney 04 Nov 14 - 01:13 AM
Bert 04 Nov 14 - 02:15 AM
Jack Campin 04 Nov 14 - 03:31 AM
Rob Naylor 04 Nov 14 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,Ed 04 Nov 14 - 04:48 AM
Rob Naylor 04 Nov 14 - 05:08 AM
Musket 04 Nov 14 - 05:51 AM
Acorn4 04 Nov 14 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,AndyT 04 Nov 14 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,HiLo 04 Nov 14 - 11:17 AM
wysiwyg 04 Nov 14 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Gerry 04 Nov 14 - 05:53 PM
Lighter 04 Nov 14 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,Rahere 04 Nov 14 - 07:33 PM
Jack Campin 04 Nov 14 - 07:58 PM
Jeri 04 Nov 14 - 08:40 PM
frogprince 04 Nov 14 - 08:43 PM
Ed T 04 Nov 14 - 08:55 PM
GUEST,DaveRo 05 Nov 14 - 03:16 AM
GUEST,Eddie (Cookie lost forever) 05 Nov 14 - 03:36 AM
Musket 05 Nov 14 - 03:38 AM
Richard Mellish 05 Nov 14 - 08:24 AM
Jack Campin 05 Nov 14 - 09:04 AM
Musket 05 Nov 14 - 09:37 AM
Vixen 05 Nov 14 - 10:40 AM
Vixen 05 Nov 14 - 11:06 AM
Ed T 07 Nov 14 - 05:21 AM
Alaska Mike 07 Nov 14 - 11:01 AM
Sandra in Sydney 03 Sep 15 - 02:45 AM
GUEST,Gerry 03 Sep 15 - 08:06 AM
Bill D 03 Sep 15 - 10:43 AM
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Subject: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 03 Nov 14 - 09:05 PM

I think it must be kinda creative thing to dig new topics for songs that few people has used before. Some songs have so unique topics that they're refreshing.

For songs - the most common topic, of course, is "Love" - especially between men and women. Here in China, at least 75% of the popular songs are about love affair. The situation in English songs is better, but they still makes up a big percentage.

Other common topics include: family love; patriotism; homesick; religion; friendship; peace/anti-war; environment protection; joy of life; nostalgia. And, especially for folk songs, of course - wanderlust and politics.

What I mean - the songs on common topics can certainly be very impressive and well-written, but it would be easier for songs with unique topics that no one has used before.

However sometimes unique topics can fall common when they are successful - when Leonard Cohen wrote Suzanne, it's a unique character sketch song about a woman. Then Joni Mitchell wrote Marcie, and a lot of that kind of songs came to being. "Anti-war" must have been an unique topic, too, back when someone wrote Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye.

I think Tom Paxton is very good at discovering unique topics for songs. My favorite song on Tom's album Something in My Life is called Oh, Doctor, Doctor, which portrays a man longing for death because of the pain he's suffering from terminal illness. It's the only song about "euthanasia" I've ever known. Very unique topic. Other examples include Thank You, Republic Airlines (it takes 30 years for another guy to write a song on the same topic), Saturday Night, Johnny Got a Gun and Not Tonight, Marie (the only "real-life" love song). John Prine and Bob Dylan can dig very interesting topics, too.

What do you think of this? And... Please tell us some of the unique topics of songs you could think of. (Sorry for my bad English, I'm not a native speaker!)

Jason


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Subject: Chords Add: Oh, Doctor, Doctor (Tom Paxton)
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 03 Nov 14 - 09:15 PM

Here is a link to the song I mentioned. The album wasn't released on CD yet. It was ripped from the LP.


Oh, Doctor, Doctor
(Tom Paxton)

                Eb                      Gm
You told me the sunshine was bound to revive me.
                F                               Gm
You told me the cool breeze was gonna bring me around.
                Eb                   Gm
But something is breaking and moving inside me,
                F                     Gm
And something inside me is tearing me down.


            Eb                            Gm
Oh, Doctor, Doctor, you didn't give me no warning.
                      G                      Gm
You didn't help me get ready - now anybody can see.
                  Eb                     Gm
I can't stand the pity and the sorrowful glances.
                G                   Gm
They all know my body is quitting on me.


            F                         Gm
Oh, Doctor, Doctor, don't let me just lie here,
                  F                                  Gm
Don't let me just wait here 'cause the waiting's too slow.
            F                           Gm
Oh, Doctor, Doctor, please show me some mercy.
             F                      Gm
I'm tired of waiting - please let me go.


                  Eb                         Gm
I want to open my window; I want to feel the sunshine;
          F                   Gm
Listen to children go hurrying past.
                  Eb                           Gm
See the beautiful blackbird settle down in the chestnut.
                F                         Gm
It's a beautiful sunset and I hope it's my last.


            F                            Gm
Oh, Doctor, Doctor, don't let me just lie here,
                  F                                  Gm
Don't let me just wait here 'cause the waiting's too slow!
            F                           Gm
Oh, Doctor, Doctor, please show me some mercy!
             F                Eb    Gm
I'm tired of waiting - please let me go!

Lyrics are printed on the inner notes of the album, and the chords are very simple. The song is originally in Gm.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 03 Nov 14 - 09:38 PM

Tom Lehrer was pretty good at coming up with topics no one else would touch. Just to take one example from each album, see I Hold Your Hand In Mine, Poisoning Pigeons In The Park, and New Math.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 03 Nov 14 - 10:25 PM

Agreed about Lehrer. I'm partial to The Irish Ballad, myself.

Unusual topic for a song? How about Vasectomy by The Limeliters?


Jay


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Nov 14 - 10:54 PM

A topic that was used once at a weekend gathering was "Songs of Dismemberment"... which gets several old ballads and some interesting other things.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 03 Nov 14 - 11:25 PM

Maybe I'll listen to more Tom Lehrer. I've listened to a few of his stuffs and they're mostly hard to understand for me, because they're too topical and "Americana". I was born and grown and still living in China, so it's really hard for me to understand the topical Lehrer stuffs, i.e. "Whatever Became of Hubert".

Jason


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 12:21 AM

One of the Tom Lehrer songs I understand is "Folksong Army"... That's surely a topic nobody else would touch - protest against protest.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 01:13 AM

Jason, how about a song from Australia's late lamented John Dengate?   

Rectal Bleeding Calypso

John wrote many great songs, including songs about his family & the Australian political situation, but 'Solar Melanoma Blues' fits your topic & unfortunately I can't find the words anywhere. It's referred to in several posts on Mudcat & elsewhere on the net, & somehow it missed being published in his 3 books, & is not on his 3 CDs.

I hope to have the words tomorrow

sandra


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Bert
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 02:15 AM

Phallic Fencepost Bert Hansell 2011


There's a fearsome phallic finial on the fencepost in our yard.
We bought it at Home Depot and it's plastic and it's hard.
It stands there like a soldier or a sentry on his guard.
That fearsome phallic fence post in the yard.

I don't know why we bought it, it doesn't make much sense
you can see that it's symbolic, or you're really rather dense;
and it gives a whole new meaning to 'sitting on the fence!'
That fearsome phallic fence post in the yard.

You may wonder what the neighbors think as they are passing by.
There's many a dear old lady gets twinkle in her eye,
and for sheer and utter envy it can make a grown man cry.
That fearsome phallic fence post in the yard.

Every night the neighbors' cats upon their garden wall
insist on entertaining with a dreadful caterwaul
I think that they're complaining that they can't sit at all
on that fearsome phallic fence post in the yard.

There's a fearsome phallic finial on the fencepost in our yard.
We bought it at Home Depot and it's plastic and it's hard.
It stands there like a soldier or a sentry on his guard.
That fearsome phallic fence post in the yard.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 03:31 AM

Adam Macnaughtan's history of the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 04:41 AM

Songwriter "The Beard" (aka Simon) in Axminster wrote a good song about prostate cancer.

I remember years ago a Tom Paxton song about jogging mania: "twenty five laps around the pond will make you tall and slim and blonde" is all I can remember from it though.

The Carrivick Sisters' "Garden Girl" is about the statue of a young girl in a garden in Salcombe, Devon. No huge "message" but a refreshing change from the usual love or protest songs.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 04:48 AM

Rob,

Hand Me Down My Jogging Shoes Today!


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 05:08 AM

Thanks Ed!


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Musket
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 05:51 AM

I always thought MacArthur Park was about as prosaic as it gets...

In the unique verses business as usual topics, I have often wondered, when looking back at traditional ballads, whether we have carried on the tradition of love / yearning / moaning about work or war, or whether we would still be writing about those topics had we not had the precedent?


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Acorn4
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 09:02 AM

I've done a couple on the Male Menopause and Selling Life Insurance -these things can become a bit of a challenge.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,AndyT
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 09:56 AM

Casey's Last Ride, by Kris Kristofferson, is a different kind of love song. It shows the lovers many years later, when they're old and haven't seen each other for a long time. The best version is by Dorothy Hamm, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nd_U8zSAW8


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 11:17 AM

Mrs. Bartolozzi by Kate Bush, it's about a washing machine. Also by Kate, Misty, a woman makes love with a snowman.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 12:13 PM

Warren Zevon's 'My Shit's Fucked Up' about terminal illness.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 05:53 PM

Jason, for "protest about protest", see also "The Sound of Protest (Has Begun To Pay)", as recorded by The Mitchell Trio.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 07:04 PM

The one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people-eater who just wanted to play in a rock 'n' roll band.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9H_cI_WCnE


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 07:33 PM

What you will NOT find anytime in the last 200 years is a Patriotic folksong. The wheels fell off that with the compiler of the first English dictionary of worth, Dr Samuel Johnson, who concluded that Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Oscar Wilde went further, stating that it is the virtue of the vicious. And from what we have seen ever since, they were right: it is the duty of a man to resist such as these. And yes, we are very well aware how difficult that will be in China: from the depths of Pu Yi you have a long way to climb to attain the targets your nation once considered estimable. This is what Hong Kong is about, I guess.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 07:58 PM

Actually, yes you will. They may not be a very likeable genre on the whole, but there are zillions of them, some reaching anthemic levels of popularity (like Orange and Republican songs in Ireland, or Serbian and Croatian nationalist songs).

There are such things as evil folksongs.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Jeri
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 08:40 PM

Zevon's "My Shit's Fucked Up" was recorded in 1999. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2002. He is pretty good at weird songs, though. Monkey Wash, Donkey Rinse:
Hell is only half full
Room for you and me
Looking for a new fool
Who's it gonna be?
It's the Dance of Shiva
It's the Debutantes ball
And everyone will be there
Who's anyone at all

Monkey wash donkey rinse
Going to a party in the center of the earth
Monkey wash donkey rinse
Honey, don't you want to go?


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: frogprince
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 08:43 PM

Dave Carter's "Gentle Arms of Eden", tracing and celebrating biological evolution.

Loudon Wainwright's "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road".


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Ed T
Date: 04 Nov 14 - 08:55 PM

Maybe not creative, unique, or rare-but there are some odd song topics, such as Stompin Tom Connors song about the long distance delivery of a cow patty clock (Margo's Cargo) and Fred Eaglesmith's song, Big Hair (below).


Fred Eaglesmith, Big Hair 


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,DaveRo
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 03:16 AM

Tom Paxton song about jogging mania: "twenty five laps around the pond will make you tall and slim and blonde"

and Loudon Wainwright wrote a song about genetic engineering which will make you "smart, straight, thin, and sane"


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,Eddie (Cookie lost forever)
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 03:36 AM

Tom Paxton is a genius! A couple of years back I was doing a radio programme with clients of Berkshire Women's Aid. Most of the songs were chosen by the women themselves but fortuitously I found this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRn8J3G9GGo with Anne Hills from the album Best of Friends.

I don't think I've ever heard such a powerful song! I still find it very difficult to listen to!

Eddie


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Musket
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 03:38 AM

To my knowledge, considering that if we live to a ripe old age, we might get thrown into a care home... there are so few songs about it.

Elvis Costello broached the subject wonderfully and compassionately with "Veronica"


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 08:24 AM

John Kirkpatrick has done some: for example the one (the title of which I don't recall) set in a launderette, and Belinda Brown, recounting the remarkable consequences of the computer being down.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 09:04 AM

There's a boy across the river with a bottom like a peach -
Alas, I cannot swim.


I'll leave it to Akenaton to track that one down.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Musket
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 09:37 AM

Last seen buying a speed boat


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Vixen
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 10:40 AM

Wow...
I just wrote one a couple weeks ago: What Will Happen to My Skillet When I'm Gone?

John Hartford has a bunch of better ones though...for example:

Good Ol' Electric Washing Machine
and
Here's to Baking Soda

Just my $0.02, for what it's worth--your mileage may vary!

V


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Vixen
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 11:06 AM

Wow again...
How could I forget John Prine, with Dear Abby, Iron Ore Betty, and Lydia, just to name a few?
V


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Ed T
Date: 07 Nov 14 - 05:21 AM

Buddy Knox has a couple of odd songs:


Original Aboriginal 

I think I'm gonna kill myself 


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 07 Nov 14 - 11:01 AM

I've written songs on various topics which might be called unique:

Evil Freddy - about a Mexican bandito.
Little Jim - about a Kodiak fisherman caught in an earthquake and tidal wave.
Iditarod - about the great dog sled race in Alaska.
Carhartts - about a brand of warm, protective clothing.
Back In the Clydesdale - about comparing Guiness to Budweiser beer.
Wilderness Letters - about an Irish immigrant's search for gold in the Yukon.
They Were Different - about our government's atrocities against Native Americans.
First Kill - about a young Scot's experience on a whaling voyage.
Morris the Moose - about a moose that eats junk food and dances to lose weight.
Snowshoe Suffle - about the peace and solitude of snowshoeing in the woods.
Mars Outback - about an Aussie space explorer and what he finds on Mars.
William Wallace - about the Scottish hero of 14th century.
Free Walter - about a King Crab's adventures from the sea to Hollywood to court, etc.

Unique topics are everywhere you look. A song can be written about serious subjects or nothing at all. If my mind can envision it, then I can write a song about it. Sometimes writing a song that other people want to hear is difficult, but it just takes patience and work to make it better.

Alaska Mike's website


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Subject: RE: LYR ADD - Skin Cancer Blues - John Dengate
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 02:45 AM

just before The Big Crash the Big Crash I posted this song & it disappeared into the Great Big Hole & was never seen again.

I just found the words (white paper in a plastic sheet protector - how many of those do I have???) so here it is again & the words below have been pasted from my very own copy.

The Skin Cancer Blues (1994) by John Dengate (aka. Solar Melanoma Blues)

Once I had the skin of a newborn child,
Pure and smooth and undefiled.
My blue eyes sparkled like the morning dew
And on my back, just a freckle or two.
Out in the sun with never a care;
Back and belly and head all bare;
No sunscreen, no shirt, no shoes
And now I'm singing the skin cancer blues.

chorus

Oh, it's no mismomer,
Singing the solar melanoma blues.
Fifty-five summers of Australian heat
And now I'm walking down Macquarie Street;
Clutching my referral ...
Must defer to the medical code.
I'm telling you, without a doubt;
They burn and freeze and scrape and cut them out!


I hope they're not malignant ...
I get indignant if I hear that word.
The doctor says; "Son, you'll be fine,
Those beggars on your back - they're all benign".
Be a sensible chap, though:
Buy yourself un petit chapeau (That's a little hat ...)
If I kick the bucket, don't blame the booze;
Sing me to salvation with the skin cancer blues.

chorus

Oh, it's no mismomer,
Singing the Solar melanoma blues.
Fifty-five summers of Australian heat
And now I'm walking down Macquarie Street:
Clutching my referral ...
Must defer to the medical code.
I'm telling you, without a doubt;
They burn and freeze and scrape and cut them out!


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 08:06 AM

The John Dengate lyrics Sandra posted just earlier go more or less to the tune of Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out.


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Subject: RE: Creative/Unique/Rare Topics for Songs?
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Sep 15 - 10:43 AM

For 40+ years, our folk society has had a monthly "Open Sing" which almost always has an announced theme/topic to stimulate minds. In 500-600 sings, there have been some very unique topics along with the obvious ones like Love, Birds, Sex, Sea Songs, etc....

I have led sings on "The Four Elements..Earth, Air, Water & Fire"
"Oaths, Promises, Threats and Various Imprecations", and several others.
My wife got a rousing reception with "Moxie, Chutzpah, Gall and Effrontery"

I'll try to remember some of the other odd ones.
(Oh... one was called "Oh No, Not Again?" to remind everyone of songs which had been over done until many were sick of them.)


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