Misunderstood lyrics–like the famous Jimmy Hendrix line in the title–have been around as long our canine friend, Nipper has been an RCA logo and for as long as he’s been trying to figure out the “ghost in the machine” that is the Victrola.
So, “mondegreens”, as they’ve been aptly named, are nothing new. Blog posts about them sure as hell aren’t either. There are about a million blogs dedicated to hilarious misinterpretations of lyrics to popular songs.
I perused several of these venerable blogs one night and found quite a few lyrics that I’ve been misunderstanding most of my life–ever since learning how to adjust the volume on my turquoise transistor radio. Most made me laugh; most were what I believed to be legit lyrics. I looked for a few of my very own, but couldn’t find any of the ones my friends and I misunder-heard as kids. And believe me, there were more than a few.
I’ll share some with you now.
This is from 1972. Nixon was President; Vietnam was still a conflict and my sister, Karol and I spent most of that summer in Europe. We couldn’t understand what was being said on any of the TV’s we watched–regardless of the countries we visited. And by the way, German TV is extremely strange. It’s as if Bergman is directing every show. At least, that’s the way it used to be.
Anyway, radio was all we had–especially those stations that played English speaking Top 40. This group got a lot of airplay that summer. I’m talking, of course, about Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose.
“Too Late To Turn Back Now”.
Listen to it.
Kicky, kinda fun, cheery, groovy, far out; very Greg Brady and very early 70’s. Hear now as one of the Brothers Cornelius warbles these particular lyrics at the song’s 2:15 mark.
He sings what I’ve always heard to be–“I wouldn’t mind duh, eef ah nuped da really love me doo.”
Listen for yourself.
Did you hear that mayonnaise mouth attempt to enunciate? Hilarious. It’s supposed to be “I wouldn’t mind it, if I knew she really loved me too”.
Maybe, but we know better. I know what I ve always heard and frankly, I wouldn’t mind duh, eef ah nuped da lyrics really wuh day wah”.
As most of you know, I was born and raised in a small town not far from San Antonio. That meant we listened to San Antonio radio stations. KONO….KTSA…both AM stations were GIANTS in their industry for the time. Now keep in mind, this was the mid-to-late 60’s to early 70’s when AM radio was king. That meant reception was also AM quality and all that that implies. It was staticky at best most of the time and never, ever crystal clear. Those two components lent themselves to frequently misunderstood lyrics, misunderstood adverts; misunderstood everything, really.
I remember my sainted mother becoming incensed after hearing a grocery store commercial once. The add was for bottles of salsa and she was convinced…CONVINCED through the glory of AM distortion, that she heard the store was advertising two-for-one bottles of spicy or mild asshole.
As if there are any other kinds.
But I digress….
This next offering was and continues to be a fave. It’s lyrics have been misunderstood for decades. It’s the Rascals’, “Groovin'”.
Listen closely at 1:56
Did you hear, “Life would be ecstasy; you and me endlessly???
Did you hear, “That would be ecstasy, you and me and Leslie”.
Who in the hell is Leslie?
Remember “Build Me Up, Buttercup” by The Foundations?
This particular “mondegreen” is right at 1:00.
That’s where I continue to hear the lead singer belting out an homage to biology. I hear him singing…
(Hey, hey, hey!) Baby, baby, try to buy
(Hey, hey, hey!) A little dime, and I’ll make you happy
(Hey, hey, hey!) Ribsomones
I’ll be some ribosomes ditty for you
…..and so forth.
Here are the correct lyrics:
(Hey, hey, hey!) Baby, baby, try to find
(Hey, hey, hey!) A little time and I’ll make you happy
(Hey, hey, hey!) I’ll be home
I’ll be beside the phone waiting for you
….and so forth.
I know the lyrics are intelligible on “the You Tube”, but trust me, when we heard them as youngsters over an AM radio, broadcast in mono over one very well-worn and mechanically unrefined car speaker, I assure you, we heard The Foundations singing about minute, round particles composed of RNA and protein that are found in the cytoplasm of living cells and serve as the site of assembly for polypeptides encoded by messenger, RNA.
Ah yes…good times.
This next one isn’t really a misunderstood lyric as much as it is a major production gaff. I guess you could even call it something that slipped through the cracks of the studio’s quality control. And what’s so weird is that this mistake is so blatant; so obvious, but very people have noticed it and the song is almost 50 years old.
It’s J. Frank Wilson and The Cavaliers’ famous, “Last Kiss”–a song which laments teen mortality as it relates to auto/train accidents.
Now, I want you to take note of the soprano singing background for J. Frank and the lads. Listen to what she does at 1:57.
Did you hear that painful vocal train off? I swear it sounds like someone goosed her.
Now, I ask you–how and why was this NOT caught in initial production? It wasn’t even caught in post production. Shoddy. As I stated, I never noticed it until Karol pointed it out to me a few years ago. Now it’s ruined for me. So, I thought I’d spoil it for you, too. Sharing is fun. Now the whole damn lot us won’t be able to hear the damn song without anticipating the sound of the soprano being rectally probed.
And is it just me or did anyone else find the still frames of Israeli EMT’s unloading obvious terrorist attack victims from an ambulance a bit unnerving AND a smidge incongruous?????
The lovely and talented Martha Martinez sent me this the other day and I loved it. This almost “literal” interpretation of what Joe Cocker is singing is the perfect ending for this post. We’ve all wondered what he was lyrically spewing forth from that British fish and finger pie hole of his. Now, we know.
The song is, “A little Help From My Friends”, from his riveting performance at Woodstock.
Enjoy the music and Joe’s sweet, sweaty spasticity!!
I just wish someone would do the same for Van Morrison