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You're listening to an album by one of your favorite bands, and you can't help but notice that this one line (or phrase) has popped up before. Maybe it's from a song earlier in the album, or maybe it was from another album entirely (maybe it's even the title of another song) but the point is that the songwriter--for whatever reason--has recycled their lyrics.

Related to Arc Words, Album Title Drop, Author Catchphrase, Lyrical Tic, and Running Gag. Often used in a Concept Album. Not to be confused with Looped Lyrics.

Examples of Recycled Lyrics include:


  • Arcade Fire's third album, The Suburbs, does this for multiple phrases, including (but not limited to):
    • "The suburbs"
    • "Living/live in the shadows of your song"
    • "Suburban war"
    • Slightly modified version: "The Suburbs" has "In the suburbs I/I learned to drive/And they told me we'd never survive/So grab your mother's keys, we're leaving", whereas "Suburban War" (another example!) has"In the suburbs I, I learned to drive/People told me we would never survive/So grab your mother's keys, we leave tonight".
  • Radiohead included the line "I don't know why I feel so tongue-tied/I don't know why I feel so skinned alive" in two songs. The first to use it was "Cuttooth", a popular b-side to their album Amnesiac; the second song, "Myxomytosis", is on Hail To The Thief, released after Amnesiac.
    • The phrase "staring up inside of me" is used in "Inside My Head" (a b-side to "Creep") and "Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was".
    • "Optimistic" has the line "dinosaurs roaming the earth", while "Where I End And You Begin" has the slight variation "the dinosaurs roam the earth".
  • The Smiths are fond of this trope as well.
    • "The sun shines out of our behinds" is sung both on "Hand in Glove" and "Pretty Girls Make Graves".
    • The "lyric as different song title" variant is used for "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet Baby", which is also a line from "Paint A Vulgar Picture".
  • They Might Be Giants:
    • "Hotel Detective": "Come on and swing with me/Hotel Detective/From the top of a tree/Hotel Detective/And make me feel like a bee."
    • "So To Be One Of Us" (from the Return to Neverland soundtrack): "We swing on limbs of trees/Till we wake up the bees..."
    • "Careful What You Pack": "Shaking up the bees/Swinging from that tree..."
  • Switchfoot: "Red Eyes", the final track from Hello Hurricane, ends with the chorus of the album opener, "Needle and Haystack Life.
  • Rhapsody of Fire do this a lot, along with Title Drop. Makes sense, too, since they're telling a fantasy story throughout their whole discography, and different songs often make references to the same event.
  • Marillion's album Fugazi contains several references to "The Sentimental Mercenary".
    • Likewise, former Marillion lead singer Fish's first studio album, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors, includes numerous references to "The Hill", a metaphor for material acquisitions.
  • Modest Mouse, with every album a concept album, are notorious for this. They also have plenty of cross-album references.
    • Ice on the Sheets reuses lyrics from several other songs.
    • "People talk in soda pop/They talk it quite a lot/The opinions that i don't give/are the opinions i don't got" from "White Lies Yellow Teeth", and the slightly more gramatically correct version inserted into "Spitting Venom".
  • Hawkwind's song "Who's Gonna Win the War" includes the line "Already weeds are writing their scriptures in the sand", taken from their much earlier song "We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago".
  • The phrase "between the altar and the door" appears in two of Casting Crowns' songs in their album (what else) "The Altar and The Door."
  • "So far away" pops up in a lot of Dragon Force songs.
  • Hammerfall has "At The End Of The Rainbow" that drops this title, and "No Sacrifice, No Victory", that uses the same phrase.
  • The Beatles' "Glass Onion" is filled with shout outs to other songs of theirs:
    • I told you about strawberry fields...
    • I told you about the walrus and me, man...
    • Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet,yeah...
    • I told you about the fool on the hill...
    • Fixing a hole in the ocean....
  • Janelle Monae's album The Archandroid does this a bunch, being the Concept Album that it is:
    • "Faster" has the lines "like a schizo", referenced later in "Come Alive", and "electric sheep", referenced later in "Make the Bus".
    • "57821" references the earlier "Sir Greendown".
    • "Babopbyeya" references the title of the earlier track "Neon Valley Street", which is also a Non-Appearing Title.
  • Happens with pretty much the complete output of The Olivia Tremor Control. References to the "Cubist Castle," "the bark and below it," and "black foliage" abound.
  • "The Shattered Fortress" by Dream Theater is made up entirely of these -- all the lyrics are taken from previous songs in the "AA Suite" series of songs.
  • Frank Zappa was very fond of this, as part of what he called "conceptual continuity". Common examples in his lyrics include references to poodles named Fido, muffins, the mythical groupie/singer Suzy Creamcheese, and the term "conceptual continuity" itself. Of course, he started his career with what some consider to be the first concept album ever. Note that Suzy even has her own article on the other Wiki.
  • Coldplay use this with the phrase "now my feet won't touch the ground".
  • Fleetwood Mac has the following lines (or at least very similiar lines) appear in both "Illume [9/11]" and "Destiny Rules" on the album "Say You Will":

 I like the coastal cities, I like the lights

I like the way the city blends into the ocean at night

It's like living on a working river; the coastline is glittering

Like a diamond snake in a black sky

  • In a Nico Nico Chorus of Vocaloid 's Daughter of Evil, someone sings an extra line from the song's sequel, Servant of Evil, before being cut off by a guillotine.
  • Beastie Boys have reminded us that they are known to let the beat... drop in "The New Style" and "Intergalactic".
  • U2 tends to mention being on their knees (or crawling) in a number of their songs.
  • Manu Chao does this all the time.
  • The Killers reputedly chose "Day and Age" as the title for their fourth album because it appeared in two of the album's songs.
  • Sting does this, usually near the end of a song:
    • "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" (from the album The Dream of the Blue Turtles) has phrases from "Every Breath You Take" (which he performed with his old band The Police).
    • "We'll Be Together" (from Nothing Like the Sun) has "If you need somebody" and "If you wanna keep something precious" from "If You Love Somebody Set them Free".
    • The title track from Soul Cages has lyrics from "Island of Souls" (from the same album).
    • "Seven Days" (from Ten Summoner's Tales) has lyrics from "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". Sting seems to really like this specific passage of lyrics, since they were also reused in a different Police song, "O My God".
  • Some of the the lyrics from the song "Something There" from Beauty and the Beast were actually reused from the earlier song "Belle."
  • Several songs by Keith Urban use some variation on "The sun is shining".
  • Pavement have done this a couple of times: "Embassy Row" has "A for effort, and a b for delivery" while "Cherry Area" has the very similar "You needed 'A' for effort \ But I give you a 'b' for delivery, my friend". "Carrot Rope" has "Harness your hopes to the folks" while "Harness Your Hopes" has "Harness your hopes to just one person". "Harness Your Hopes" was released as a b-side from Terror Twilight, the same album "Carrot Rope" was on, even though it was actually an outtake from their previous album; it sort of seemed like they were deliberately calling attention to the fact that they reused that lyric.
  • Beck's "Diamond Bollocks" and "Erase The Sun" have several identical lines: "Offices and fountains that they named for you", "Hari-karis spinning 'round the golden looms"[1], and "choice cut meats from derelict boulevards". Also, both "Erase The Sun" and "Static" mention "delinquent hygienes". "Erase The Sun" was written before either of the other songs, but wasn't released (as a B Side) until later.
    • "Sexx Laws" and "Debra" both have the line "I'm a full grown man but I'm not afraid to cry", although this seems to be more of a Call Back because one's the first song on Midnite Vultures and the other is the last.
  • "All my life" and "All of my life" seem to be placeholder phrases for Phil Collins - they appear frequently both in Genesis songs and in his solo records.
  • Jim Steinman: "Godspeed! Speed us away!" in "Bad For Good" and the Fire Inc version of "Nowhere Fast". Also "I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday" in "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" and "Love And Death And An American Guitar".
  • Electric Six's Switzerland includes two references to going bananas ("Night Vision" and "Rubber Rocket") and two references to shooting to kill ("Germans In Mexico" and "Mr. Woman"). While it's arguably more of an example of Author Vocabulary Calendar, it's worth noting that this is the same band that named an album Fire because they realized nearly every song mentioned fire.
  • The Lonely Island's "Like A Boss" and "After Party" both include the passage "Black out in a sewer / Meet a giant fish / fuck his brains out". Since both are list songs that rely on Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick, they probably reused the line in "After Party" as a Lampshade Hanging on the fact that they already wrote a song with the same lyrical formula.
  • Franz Ferdinand intentionallly (after all, it is a Concept Album) recycles "No You Girls" in "Katherine Kiss Me".
  • Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar has a few examples of this due to being a Concept Album: "Cryptorchid" and the title track both have the passage "Prick your finger it is done \ the moon has now eclipsed the sun \ the angel has spread it's wings \ the time has come for bitter things". "Kinderfeld" and "Wormboy" both have "Then I got my wings and I never even knew it \ when I was a worm, thought I wouldn't get through it". "Astonishing Panorama Of The End Times" also shares a lyric with "Kinderfeld" ("This is what you should fear / you are what you should fear") - "Astonishing Panorama..." wasn't released until a couple of years after Antichrist Superstar, but was written around the same time.
  • Vampire Weekend uses the lyric "This feels so unnatural/Peter Gabriel, too" in both "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and "Ottoman".
  • The Spill Canvas uses "it's like a/one thousand papercuts soaked in vinegar" in "Drunken Ballerina Waltz" and "Battles".
  • Tegan and Sara: "Not Tonight" and "Terrible Storm" both have the lyrics "in the back of your car I feel like I have traveled nowhere".
  • Arguably, Weezer's "Crab" and "Take Control" - one has "She won't be comin' back 'round here no way", while the other has "I won't be comin' back 'round here no more".
  • Cracker's "Big Dipper" and Camper Van Beethoven's "Long Plastic Hallway" both start with the phrase "cigarettes and carrot juice" - David Lowery, who fronts both bands, has said that cigarettes and carrot juice were the typical diet of college students he knew in Santa Cruz, CA. There's also the case of Cracker's Forever having the phrase "guarded by monkeys" turn up in four different songs: This originated as an in-joke between Lowery and Mark Linkous about making fans question one's sanity by mentioning monkeys in every song on an album.
  • The opening lyrics of metal band Threshold's Wounded Land reappear somewhere in their third album, Extinct Instinct.
  • Pixies recycle 'A white moon's hot, the other side's not' from "Brick Is Red" for 'when one side's hot, the other side of the moon is not' in "All Over The World", two albums later. And the chorus from early versions of "Subbacultcha" (We're having fu-un!) was recycled for "Distance Equals Rate Times Time"[2] (from looking into the su-un!).
  • Andrew W.K.'s "Party Hard" and "Your Rules" both prominently include the lines "We will never listen to your rules/We will never do as others do".
  • Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper" and "Open All Night", both from Nebraska, have certain lyrical parallels to each other: Both include the couplet "in the wee wee hours your mind gets hazy / radio relay towers lead me to my baby", and "State Trooper" has "Radio's jammed up with talk show stations", whereas in "Open All Night" the radio is "jammed up with gospel stations" instead.

Notes

  1. Well, actually in "Erase The Sun" it's "hairy fairies", although the song mentions hari-karis too
  2. which is a line from Space (I Believe In) - "now it occurred to me as he drove away, D equals R times T
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