It means utter nonsense talk, and there’s no shortage of that – at work, home, in law, and especially in politics right now, but where does the word come from and how used in song lyrics? The word actually has an unknown origin, other than appearing in the early part of he 20th century, either in the US or UK,. Its first official appearance by the American cartoonist TDelA Dorgan in 1922, titled Indoor Sports, ridiculing lawyer speak:
Malarkey, sometimes with various spellings, is now in common usage, more for slang, and also sometimes refers as much to the act of messing about, mischief or tomfoolery as nonsense, as well as a vague generalisation (all that malarkey). Senator and former ex-vice president Joe Biden also used it to describe the words of an opponent - more polite perhaps than calling it bullshit.
Musically, however it’s wonderful to sing or speak. Here are a few examples in lyrics. Feel free to add your own:
Deltron 3030, aka Del Tha Funky Homosapien (with producer Dan The Automator), uses it to perhaps parody the nonsense of hip-hop flow in Time Keeps Slipping, from the eponymous album of 2000.
Imitations getting penetrated in free simulations
In my MC's training class remain in mass
Never get liquidated convert energy
Into matter instantly, with a pen and pad
Calculate the sinograph, heat the centre of gravity
Abolish apathy graphically packing three eighty's
With body heat sensitive bullets you need safety
Fest on your face and neck
Mental armoury levitate legs for my monarchy
No malarkey my flows embarking …
Then there’s the prolific British-American rapper MF Doom, aka Viktor Vaughn, mischievously turning things inside out with self-reference and parody on A Dead Mouse (possibly referring to the producer Danger Mouse with whom he has collaborated) on his album, Vaudeville Villain (2003). The song is also on a compilation titled Ugly Mac Beer Invasion!
And then tell him a rhyme for the hell of it to demonstrate
They know who's the renown beat critic
Do a street lyric like that's a neat trick
Off on a tangent
He ain't got a cent
Supposed to go to management and spent it getting bent
I had enough of your malarkey
For one don't mark me and who you calling darky
Agitate in the dark …
Then, in a different genre, the disco-funk punk band known as !!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk) from Sacramento, with I Feel So Free (Citation Needed), from 2015’s album As If.
I feel so free
I feel so
Free, malarkey, you know what I'm talking about …
Meanwhile former Dire Straits guitarist and bluesy growler Mark Knopfler uses the word as a surname, in his song Cleaning My Gun, from 2009’s Get Lucky. Is it from the point of view of a possibly paranoid or cautious former soldier, living a mundane life, either a British or Vietnam veteran, referring to former Irish terrorism, or gangsters, or just dodgy goods suppliers? You decide.
I keep a weather eye on the horizon, back to the wall
I like to know who's coming through the door at us all
It's the old Army training, kickin' in
I'm not complaining
It's the world we live in
Blarney and Malarkey, they're a devious firm
They'll take you to the cleaners, let you burn
The help is breaking dishes in the kitchen
Thanks a lot
We hired the worst dishwasher
This place ever got
Hidden below the radar, they want to spoil our fun...
In the meantime, I'm cleaning my gun …
So then, feel free to add your own malarkey references below, in song or from other sources.
Want to suggest other examples of this word in song lyrics, or other unusual words or contexts? Does this song make you think of something else? Then feel free to comment below, on the contact page, or on social media: Song Bar Twitter, Song Bar Facebook. Song Bar YouTube. Please subscribe, follow and share.
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