1-2. Led Zeppelin, “The Lemon Song”
Robert Johnson, “Traveling Riverside Blues”
For some reason, lemons are the go-to fruit for nutsack metaphors. (Seems big, doesn’t it?) It may have begun with Robert Johnson, who allegedly sold his soul in exchange for lyrics like “You can squeeze my lemon ’til the juice run down my leg,” from “Traveling Riverside Blues.” And if it was good enough for the most influential bluesman in history, it was plenty good for the blues lovers in Led Zeppelin, who first covered the song, then interpolated it (and brought the line to mass popularity) into “The Lemon Song,” and either grossed out or intrigued a nation of young ladies. Maybe some from column A, some from column B.
3-6. The Sultans, “Lemon Squeezing Daddy”
Bumble Bee Slim, “Lemon Squeezing Blues”
Sonny Boy Williamson, “Until My Love Come Down”
Charlie Pickett, “Let Me Squeeze Your Lemon”
Of course, lemons can be breasts as well: The Sultans, a mostly forgotten doo-wop outfit from the ’50s, brought the world “Lemon Squeezing Daddy,” a song mostly content to state that “I’m a lemon-squeezing daddy and I just got back in town.” So look out, lemon trees—these guys are back from California, where apparently the lemons are bigger. Bumble Bee Slim was a bit more direct, pleading, “Let me squeeze your lemons baby, until my love comes down.” That sounds a lot like Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Until My Love Comes Down”—though it’s hard to say who did it first—where the legendary Chicago harmonica player asks “Let me be your lemon squeezer, Lord, until my love comes down.” Williamson likes his lady’s other fruity assets too: “I like your apple on your tree / I’m crazy about your peaches too / I’m crazy about your fruit baby / ’cause you know just how to do.” How to do what? It, presumably. Charlie Pickett offered a slight variation on “Lemon Squeezing Blues” that’s worth hearing for its obvious influence on Jack White.
7. 112, “Peaches And Cream”
When applied to the female form, the term “peaches and cream” has traditionally referred to a fresh, glowing complexion, but in 2001, R&B quartet 112 took the phrase to a decidedly less platonic realm with this Grammy-nominated single. “And I can feel it all around / In the front, in the back of you / Ooh I love the taste of you / Girl you know what I’m talking about,” sings “Q” Parker, and just in case you don’t know what he’s talkin’ bout, girl, Daron Jones goes on to explain further: “Wanna taste it in the morning when I’m waking up / Like peach cobbler in my stomach when I eat it up / Got your legs around my neck so I can’t get up.” While the boys in 112 certainly deserve credit for their commitment to, um, eating, their insistence that “It’s even better when it’s with ice cream” portends a particularly sticky, messy experience for all involved.
8. Beck, “Peaches And Cream”
It’s hard to decipher the meaning of most Beck songs, but since “Peaches & Cream” comes from his 1999 album Midnite Vultures, it’s safe to assume it’s about sex. “Peaches and cream / you make a garbage man scream” croons Beck on the chorus, right before he compliments the fruit-symbolized subject on her sweater and “aluminum crutch.” And then there’s this beauty: “Give those pious soldiers another lollipop / ’cause we’re on the good ship ménage a trois.” It’s cockeyed come-ons like that that help make “Peaches & Cream” a winner on an album already stuffed with them, even if the “white-guy-does-ironic-R&B” thing usually sounds about as fresh as a bag of moldy tangerines.
9. Prince, “Peach”
All things considered, Prince could’ve made “Peach,” a new song he attached to a hits compilation in 1993, much dirtier and more direct. (He’s not particularly known for sexual subtlety.) As it stands, the halfway-decent blues-influenced song—which includes a sample of a woman moaning that’s thought to be Kim Basinger—delivers just one killer line: “Her hot pants can’t hide her cheeks / She’s a peach.”
10. Steve Miller Band, “The Joker”
Steve Miller has been called a lot of things: space cowboy, gangster, even Maurice. But the man behind classic-rock jukebox staple “The Joker” is also an allegorical fruit lover, telling the presumed woman in that same song, “Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree.” Certainly enough songs—and quotable Nicolas Cage Face/Off lines—have used peach-eating to allude to oral sex. But Miller, by invoking the woman’s “tree,” one-ups things. Who wouldn’t want to have their proverbial tree consensually shaken by the man who invented the word “pompatus”?
11. The Presidents Of The United States Of America, “Peaches”
Power-pop trio The Presidents Of The United States Of America seems innocuous enough on the outside. But dig a little deeper into “Peaches,” the band’s minor hit from 1996, and there’s some hanky-panky going on. At first, leader Chris Ballew seems to be extolling the succulent virtues of peaches, the fruit. Things take a juicier tone, though, when he sings, “Squished a rotten peach in my fist / And dreamed about you, woman / I poked my finger down inside.” It’s a good thing that Ballew focuses on making children’s music nowadays. Or maybe not.
12. The Stranglers, “Peaches”
Lewd, slinky, salacious, and sly, The Stranglers’ 1977 song “Peaches” unveiled the sleazier side of punk: While contemporaries like The Clash and The Sex Pistols got political, The Stranglers got perverted. Full of profanity and double entendres—including a word that could be either clitares, a French bathing suit, or, you know, something similar—the song is a showcase of frontman Hugh Cornwell’s leering celebration of “Walking on the beaches / Looking at the peaches.”
13. Warrant, “Cherry Pie”
Here’s a reason to celebrate Warrant’s one big contribution to popular music, to offset the many reasons not to celebrate it: The lyrics do not make direct metaphorical correlations between “cherry” and virginity or “pie” and vaginas. People unfamiliar with the song probably think it does those things, but mostly it celebrates the entire woman—her experience level unknown—as a tasty baked good. The grossest line isn’t even that gross: “I mixed up the batter and she licked the beater.” Okay, it’s pretty gross.
14. Unrest, “Cherry Cream On”
Back when indie pop was much more comfortable with perversion and subversion, Unrest cornered the market by making songs that were cloyingly saccharine on one side and creepily sexy on the other. “Cherry Cream On” is one of the many highlights of the band’s 1992 classic Imperial f.f.r.r., and the titular double entendre is not meant to be subtle: “Cherry cream / Cherry suck on / Cherry cream on / Cherry girl,” croons Mark Robinson over an immaculately jangly riff, “Cherry cherry / I want to get inside her.”
15. ZZ Top, “Cherry Red”
No one has ever expected ZZ Top to be subtle. That goes double for “Cherry Red.” The Texas legends’ 1994 song is a squealing, overripe blues-rock number that serves as a dirty-old-man confessional. “I’m addicted to the feel of her cherry red,” rasps Billy Gibbons, and there’s no doubt as to what he’s singing about—or how young the owner of that “cherry red” probably is.
16. Jeannie Reynolds, “The Fruit Song”
“Ooooh, I didn’t know you like cherries, baby / If I’d known you like cherries, I would have bought a great big bunch for you.” So begins “The Fruit Song,” a lightly disco-inflected R&B crooner that doesn’t entirely hold together as metaphor. The meaning of “cherry” as a sexual symbol is pretty well-established, and not exactly compatible with a lover bringing her partner a whole big pile of them. Similarly, she later says, “Good God, I like bananas, they’re so good to munch / and I want you to buy me a whole durn bunch.” So this is one of those giant virgin-orgies we’ve all heard so much about? Reynolds’ song fails Innuendo 101, in that it only really works because of the sexy, breathy leer she puts into her description of those cherries, “ripe and ready and they’re going fast,” and not because the double entendre actually works both ways. Then on the other hand, maybe we just have dirty minds, and she’s actually singing about eating healthy and making sure she’s getting her RDA of potassium, while guaranteeing her cherry-poppin’ daddy is getting the vitamin C he needs.
17. Ray J, “Bananaz”
If his sex tape with Kim Kardashian weren’t proof of it already, “Bananaz” reiterates that Ray J likes to get busy. While initially the song uses the fruit as a Rachel Zoe-style metaphor for over-the-top excess, later it takes a turn for the grocery aisle as Ray J sings, “The sex is bananas, and you like getting fruit.” One can only assume that Ray J is comparing the size of his manhood to the size of a banana. And good for him.
18. Bo Carter, “Banana In Your Fruit Basket”
Mississippi bluesman Bo Carter had a way with not-so-subtle extended metaphors. But the writer of “My Pencil Won’t Write No More” and “Pin In Your Cushion” outdid himself with “Banana In Your Fruit Basket,” which reels off one sexual metaphor after another, the title-bestowing call to “Let me put my banana in your fruit basket” among them. Carter also needs a woman to “burn [his] bread” and one to help him “churn, churn, churn until the butter come.” But there’s something about that banana that sticks in the mind in a way the other metaphors don’t. Maybe it’s the obviousness, or maybe it’s the way he sounds so worried that his banana will get spoiled if it doesn’t get where it needs to go.
19. Rick Ross, “Diced Pineapples”
After Rick Ross had a seizure in 2011, his doctor told him to eat more fruit. Because Ross is nothing if not health-conscious, he started eating so much pineapple that he began to imagine the fruit as an integral sentient being involved in his life. Hence “Diced Pineapples,” a song about the fruit and/or woman that’s always there for him. Both Drake and Wale guest on the track, but it’s Ross’ verses that really get the sexy fruit message across, as he raps “Shorty so fine, pussy so fresh / Diced pineapples that my baby tastes the best,” later elaborating that he’s “trying to eat,” but “we don’t need a spoon.”
20. Maroon 5, “Kiwi”
Maroon 5’s Adam Levine doesn’t need any additional proof of his bro-ness, but if a prime example had to be singled out, it’s “Kiwi.” Bursting with faux-Prince pseudo-funk and the aroma of body spray, the song is the least-erotic expression of erotica in recent memory, rife with couplets like “So give it up and don’t pretend / And spread your arms and legs across the bed” and “Sweet kiwi / Your juice is dropping down my chin.” Because, you know, kiwi is the fruit that’s hairy on the outside and drippy on the inside. God, please make it stop.
21. Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer”
Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” is really just one sappy declaration of love. His beloved could “have a steam train” if she’d “just lay down [her] tracks.” She could have “a bumper car, bumping,” because when they’re together, “this amusement never ends.” Those metaphors are family-friendly, but Gabriel works just a little bluer when he sings, “Show me ’round your fruit cage / ’cause I will be your honey bee.” It’s subtle, but the innuendo is there. After all, he wants to get into the fruit cage because that’s where “the fruit is as sweet as can be.”
22. Tenacious D, “Low Hangin’ Fruit”
While some artists opt to work dirty talk into their songs in subtle ways, others just go for the filth. In “Low Hangin’ Fruit,” from 2012’s Rize Of The Phoenix, Jack Black and Kyle Gass of Tenacious D are “hungry for some fruit” and “wander through the garden on a freaky pursuit.” Ultimately, the two score and extol the virtues of easier-to-obtain women, “because the high-class fruit is not very funky / But the low-class fruit is sweet chunky monkey.”
23. Poi Dog Pondering, “Diamonds And Buttermilk”
Either vocalist-guitarist-songwriter Frank Orrall is having a lot of enthusiastic sex in “Diamonds And Buttermilk,” or he’s chowing down on a fairly diverse, exotic fruit salad. The first lines set the tone: “I wanna suck your guava juice / Get down on my knees and slip in your passion fruit.” From there, Orrall promises to “suck your kiwi right through my teeth and split your pomegranate / going to suckle on your seeds.” The song does contain some non-fruit metaphors for sex as well, particularly the promise to go “deep-sea diving for the oyster in your hips,” but the fruit-basket imagery dominates. Which matches up a little oddly with the rest of the song, turning on an approximation of a Samuel Johnson quote, “A man must make a beast of himself if he is ever to be truly free.” Whatever kind of wild, sexy animal Orrall is imagining himself to be in this song, it’s apparently largely a vegetarian.