Friday, September 19, 2014

Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

In the last Wisdom of the Oldies posting, guest columnist Jim Borgmann wrote that for years, he had been singing the wrong lyrics to “What a Day for a Daydream” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. He thought the lyrics were:

Tomorrow I’ll pay the dues for dropping my load
And find me a place for being asleep before dawn.

The actual lyrics are quite different.

Tomorrow I’ll pay the dues for dropping my load
A pie in the face for being a sleepy bulldog.

I’d venture that at some point or another, all of us have gotten a lyric wrong. I remember my younger sister going around the house for months in 1966 singing “Wild Thing, you make my heart stink.”

I was surprised to learn there is actually a word for these mistakes: Mondegreen.

According to Wikipedia, a mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to clearly hear a lyric, substitutes words that sound similar, and make some kind of sense.

Probably the best showcase for misunderstood lyrics was Wayne’s World on Saturday Night Live. Their Top 10 screwed up songs included There’s a bathroom on the right instead of CCR’s There’s a bad moon on the rise. Also, from “Benny and the Jets”, She’s got electric boobs, a mohair suit, you know I read it in a magazine.  Party on Wayne and Garth!

Here are a few mondegreens I love. Tell me about your favorites.

Hold me closer, Tony Danza. Count the headlice on the highway.                                                      



                                                                          Tiny Dancer
      Elton John

Well since she put me down I’ve had owls pukin’ in my bed

                                                               Help Me Rhonda
                                                               – The Beach Boys

The ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind.
                                                               Blowing in the Wind
                                                               ­– Bob Dylan

Gross spiders in the sky…
                                                               Ghost Riders in the Sky
– Sons of the Pioneers

She’s a good girl, loves her Mama
Loves Cheez-its and America, too.
                                                               – Tom Petty

This is the dawning of the age of asparagus, age of asparagus.
The Fifth Dimension

Like a virgin, touched for the thirty-first time
                                                               Like a Virgin
                                                               – Madonna

Rock the catbox, rock the catbox.
                                                               Rock the Casbah
      The Clash 

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with colitis goes by

                                                               Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
      Elton John

Sugar fried honey butt, you know that I love you
                                                               Can’t Help Myself
      The Four Tops

Goin’ to the jack-o-lantern, gonna get married.

                                 Chapel of Love
      The Dixie Cups

I think it’s so groovy now that people are finally getting together
I think it’s wonderful and how that people are finally getting together
Freak out in the garden
And you may find a friend
                                                               Reach out in the Darkness
      Friend and Lover

I’m not talkin’ bout Bolivia
And I don’t want to change your life
                                                                         I’d Really Love to See you Tonight
      England Dan and John Ford Coley

We got the Flintstones microwave ovens…

                                                               Money for Nothing
                                                               Dire Straits

I dig a French bikini on a wild albatross

                                                               California Girls
      The Beach Boys
And when he died, all he left us was a lawn

                                                               Papa was a Rolling Stone
      The Temptations
Baby come back, you can play Monopoly

                                                               Baby Come Back
                                                               – Player

I wanna know, have you ever see Lorraine?
                                                        Have you Ever Seen the Rain
– Creedence Clearwater Revival

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred Men on Mars could ever do

Muh, muh, muh, muh muh, mice aroma.
                                                               My Sharona
                                                               – The Knack

And then there’s Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” I’ve been singing these lyrics since 1973:

Gimme the Beach Boys and free my soul, I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.

The actual lyrics are:
Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul…
I like my version better.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Words and Music

Today we welcome our first guest Wisdom of the Oldies guest columnist, my dear old friend (since second grade) and the new Karaoke King of South Florida, Jim Borgmann. Jim has written about himself, his love for great oldie goldies and how we all sometimes get the words screwed up. More about what is called "modegreen", mishearing of a phrase, in my next posting. In the meantime enjoy, and thanks Jim!!

A little bit about me before we start.  
I can remember back to my high school days in Miami and how the rock music on the radio (WQAM 560 AM and WFUN 790 AM) seemed to have so much meaning for me. You could literally see your own life in the words of the songs.  It wasn't "soul" music, but it touched your soul if you let it. 

One of the WQAM DJs, Rick Shaw, came to our high school's very first career day and I signed up to see him.  How can you get paid for playing music and touching people's souls?  This had to be too good to be true!  I had to find out from the Master!
Although this was not my ultimate career path, it was a serendipitous moment when almost 45 years later, in 2010, Rick Shaw, George Butticaz, and I formed "Rockin' Again Productions".  This was a "part time" concert promotion company that reunited the old rock bands from the 1960's in South Florida and presented them in concert for the benefit of children's charities. Imagine becoming business partners with a person you idolized as a teen! I had arrived. 

What was really neat was being able to chat with Rick about the oldies in a "one on one" environment.  The stories he told of the groups he had met kept me literally spellbound. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Monkees – he met them all and has a room full of autographed photos with them in his home. That's for another column, though.
Since my retirement as a city manager in 2012, I have been able to relax and do just about anything I want.  Maybe not so strangely, my love of the "Oldies" kept rising to the top of the bucket.  So about a year ago I decided  I should take a crack at being a disk jockey, something I always wanted to do.  Huh?  A 63-year-old wannabe DJ?  Seriously?  Yep! And so I did. But wait, there's more....
Most of you have been somewhere where Karaoke is offered.  And I am also sure most of you have heard some really good singers and some not so good.  (I used to joke that Karaoke is really a Japanese word for "Drunk Americans singing badly".) But for the most part, karaoke singers are very serious about what they do, and I have only begun to appreciate them since I have become a "KJ" (karaoke jockey.)
One of the fun parts of being a KJ is seeing the words on the screen and singing along.  I have been in the middle of a song (yes, I started singing again) when suddenly, the screen has the wrong words!  Well, not really, but they sure ain't the words I have been singing all these years! 

Perhaps the funniest moment occurred several months ago as I was singing "What a Day for a Daydream" by the Lovin' Spoonful. Here are the actual lyrics to one of the verses:
And even if time is passing me by a lot
I couldn't care less about the dues you say I got
Tomorrow I'll pay the dues for dropping my load
A pie in the face for being a sleepy bull dog
Click below to hear the original tune:

I could have sworn on my dear mother's grave that the last line was "And find me a place for being asleep before dawn".  I swear I looked at the screen and truly believed they made up the words!  Those couldn't possibly be the right lyrics.  "A pie in the face for being a sleepy bull dog"?  Seriously?? 
Now, I ask you, how many of you sang the actual lyrics?  How many of you sang them more like I sang them?  I would really love to know!  If you have a song in your head that you always sang wrong before finding out the right lyrics years later, send me an email:  This could be a fun place to chat.

See you next time.