Having an IPod and before that, a walkman (CD player) has allowed me to hear music in a way that I hadn’t before. I’ve discovered that I’ve been singing the wrong lyrics to quite a few songs.
Actually, I’ve been singing the wrong lyrics for a long time. When I was a little girl, my family and I went to church every time the door opened. One of the choirs, I don’t know if it was Vocal # 1 or Vocal #2, sang a song, “I Thank you, Lord.” I can hear the singers in my mind and heart even today.
Back to the point – I thought the lyrics said, “He made the blind to see and the lame to walk, he even made the donkey talk…” When I got older, I realized that they said, “He even made the dumb to talk” (as mute people were referred to then) to talk. Knowing that Jesus performed miracles, my child self didn’t question that he’d made the donkey talk.
For every song whose lyrics I know by heart, there are many more that I have jacked up, so much so that I ought to keep my singing to myself or just hum like people do when they don’t know the second verse of the hymn or the National Anthem or Lift Ev’ry Voice & Sing.
I thought Joni Mitchell was saying “help me I think I’m falling in love again” when she was singing “in love too fast.” Totally changes the meaning of the song. Some lyrics don’t make sense ’cause you can’t decipher them and some are just too deep to reveal their meaning without thoughtful analysis. Some were purposely obtuse and some came about because they were produced while large amounts of drugs and alcohol were being consumed. (“In a Gadda Da Vida” was supposed to be “In the Garden of Eden.”) I thought Rick James was really singing about a girl when he sang, “I love you Mary Jane.” And, I’ve heard rumors about that “first snow in Kokomo.” Some songs have double entendres that we like – “I want a little sugar in my bowl,” and some we loathe – (I won’t repeat here.)
Often times it’s the singers’ fault because some singers mumble, like Janet Jackson; and some utter, and some just grunt nonsensically, like James Brown did a lot – but at least he always had a funky good time. “When I get down I got to get indeed” that’s what I thought James was singing, but he was saying, “I got to get in deep, down deep, funky deep.” Hell, I was too busy shaking a tail feather to really care about the Godfather of Soul’s lyrics – the point of his songs were to dance until you sweated and your troubles washed away.
I know I should clean my ears and get my hearing checked, perhaps, but I know I’m not alone.
Now, come on, confess, you’ve been singing the wrong lyrics, too, haven’t you?
Note: I’m looking forward to singing lyrics of the Abba songs, some right, some wrong, in the Mama Mia movie. Those songs stick in your brain. (You can dance, you can fly-iii…turns out they sang you can “ji-ii-ve.” Oh, well.)
Your post reminds me of a good friend who always got the lyrics wrong, but was so convinced of what she thought to be the lyrics she sang them out loud and lovely each time.
Hold me close, Tony Danza?
My grandmother used to laugh about Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear.
Liner notes, you have to get the liner notes. if that doesn’t work, google lyrics. You never remember them and still sing them wrong – but at least you knew once :)