Derek and I sing. A lot. Not that anybody asks us to. I sing more than he does but not necessarily better. We experience life in music. By that I mean, we turn everyday events into songs.
It’s routine for one of us to sing made-up lyrics to a popular song about taking out the garbage or rain or whatever is going on, like a couple of weirdos. And this is one way misheard lyrics get found out.
Misheard song lyrics are nothing new. But I’m surprised that I’m still discovering lyrics I didn’t know I got wrong.
For instance, Indiana Wants Me by R. Dean Taylor came out in 1970 and until not that long ago, I had a line messed up in my head.
When he sang, “I wish I had you…to talk to” my brain sang, “I’m as shy as you…to talk to”. Oh sure, it’s easy to see NOW that it doesn’t make sense!
Another one I carried for years, but thankfully figured out long before I sang it in front of anyone, was in Billy Joel’s Piano Man.
The line is: making love to his tonic and gin. My young brain decided it was, making love to his tiny can gin! I wasn’t thinking about cocktails when the song was released in 1973.
My all-time classic, though, was Rock and Roll All Nite by Kiss. I sang – aloud on more than one occasion – I wanna rock and roll all night, and part of every day! They’re KISS, I reasoned, and they’re busy! They can’t rock and roll all night and ALL day. When would they sleep? (The accurate line is, and party every day!)
Recently, I caught a closed-caption writer in a lyrical error. We’ve been binge-watching Lost – it’s Derek’s first time seeing the series – and the Mamas and the Papas’, Make Your Own Kind of Music comes up a few times in season two. The closed caption read “…sing your old-fashioned song”! I couldn’t believe it! I’d always thought it was, “sing your own special song”. Turns out I was right. Everybody makes mistakes!
There have to be a lot of examples beyond Slow Walkin’ Walter (Smoke on the Water) and “the girl with colitis goes by” (the girl with kaleidoscope eyes) from Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds – two of the most common pop lyric errors.
When it comes to difficult lyrics, this one from my childhood takes the lyrical cake! I know it by heart because I taped it from the radio and taught myself the words in hopes of winning a contest on CKOC. I didn’t win, but I etched the lyrics on my brain for life. Life is A Rock by Reunion – they were rapping before rapping was cool!