April 21, 2019 / 1:13 AM

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6 Artists Who Have Reused Their Lyrics: The Smiths, Bruce Springsteen, and more



A lot of artists get accused of writing the same songs over and over again (AC/DC, the Ramones...), but some artists have literally taken parts of their songs and used them twice. Here are six artists who have recycled their own lyrics.

1. The Smiths

Especially during his days with the Smiths, Morrissey was accused of plagiarizing his lyrics countless times, but one line from 1987's music business bashing "Paint a Vulgar Picture" was actually taken from a previous Smiths song. The line, "you just haven't earned it yet baby," will be recognized by any Smiths fan as the title of another song the band wrote about the music business. Though, as the "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" single was cancelled at the last moment, this recycling could possibly be another purposeful jab at the band's label.

2. The Promise Ring

Though the Promise Ring's 1997 album Nothing Feels Good isn't a concept album, Davey Von Bohlen's recycling of a few lines throughout the album gives it a thematic cohesion. The lyric that the album gets its title from is first heard in the song "Red & Blue Jeans" ("Nothing feels good like you in red & blues jeans..."), but is also the title of another song, as well as the basis for another track title ("How Nothing Feels"). Another lyric, "...not as good as the interstates are/I just can't take you that far" shows up in two songs, "Make Me A Chevy" and "A Broken Tenor."

3. Bruce Springsteen

Like the Promise Ring, Bruce Springsteen reused a line on his 1982 album Nebraska to give the album a sense of thematic unity. On his classic song "Atlantic City," Springsteen sings, "I got debts that no honest man can pay," from the perspective of a man who gets pulled into working for the mafia. Just two tracks later, on "Johnny 99," Springsteen uses the same line to tell the story of a desperate man accused of armed robbery.

4. Tricky

While the other artists on this list reused only single lines, Tricky reused an entire song. As a member of trip-hop group Massive Attack, Tricky sang and wrote the lyrics to the track "Karmacoma," but when Tricky released his debut solo album Maxinquaye the following year, he re-recorded "Karmacoma" as "Overcome," featuring his girlfriend Martina Topley-Bird on vocals.

5. Cap'n Jazz

The best lyric Tim Kinsella ever wrote for Cap'n Jazz was "you can't look at the sky without looking right through it," and he apparently felt the same way, because he used it twice. The line first appeared at the end of 1993's "We Are Scientists!" and then again at the end of 1994's "Puddle Splashers," with the same exact melody as well.

6. Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin were even more notorious song thieves than Morrissey, taking many of its earliest songs from American bluesmen. One of the few times the band covered an old blues song rather than straight-up stealing it was "Traveling Riverside Blues," originally by Robert Johnson, which contains the totally creepy line "squeeze my lemon/'til the juice runs down my leg." Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant would also use this line for Led Zeppelin II's "The Lemon Song," which was another song the band stole.

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