Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"Mistakes...I know I made you feel..." by Suz deMello

Among the funniest category of mistakes are mis-heard song lyrics.

Took this photo of Smokey at Stern Grove, SF in 2014
The title of this blog is one. It's not particularly funny, but is from a Smokey Robinson song, Ooh, Baby, Baby:

The correct lyric is "Mistakes... I know I made a few. But I'm only human."
Click the link--it's worth another listen.

I also heard, "I'm tryin'", when the lyric is "I'm cryin'".

I've often wondered about the cause and effect. Did I mis-hear lyrics before or after I started attending rock concerts? Or do stoned singers slur their words?

image by Plmnjy via Wikimedia Commons
When the Beatles' Hey, Jude came out, my brothers and I had a heated argument about what the song title was, since DJs were and are awful at telling listeners song titles and artists (which may explain the enormous popularity of streaming services. They tell you who did the song and its title). 

My eldest brother was sure it was Hey, Judith, which kinda made sense since most Beatles songs are about a woman. What didn't make sense was what I read later, that Paul McCartney wrote the song for Julian Lennon, John Lennon's first, famously neglected son. I guess Paul felt that Hey, Jules just didn't sound right, and Hey, Julian was impossibly clumsy.

Not what the lady meant
And the mistakes go on and on. Most recently, I swear Taylor Swift sang, "got some lovely Starbucks lovers" in Blank Space, but she said, more coherently, "got a long list of ex-lovers." She also sang, "new money, suit and tie," but I thought I heard "No money, student tie."

And then, there's the most famous one: "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy," from Jimi Hendrix' Purple Haze. No, wait--it's "'scuse me while I kiss the sky."

Wow. How could I forget that? 

Must have been the reefer.

Puerto Vallarta, 2015. I'll kiss this sky anytime--just tell me how!


  1. Funny!

    One of my own favs is from Rocky Horror picture show. Susan Sarandon, as the thoroughly corrupted Janet, sings:

    I've been released,
    Bad times deceased,
    My confidence has increased.
    Reality is here.
    The game has been disbanded.
    My mind has been expanded.
    It's a gas that Frankie's landed --
    his lust is so sincere.

    I had a spirited argument about the second line. I could have sworn it was:

    Conscience deceased.

    I like my line better.

  2. Heh. Jimi Hendricks singing about kissing a guy would have been quite radical at the time. (And I don't doubt that several famous male rock stars -- not necessarily Jimi -- were kissing guys, but they weren't singing about it then.) In the country-rock song "Fancy," I thought for years that the mother was telling her teenage daughter, "Here's your watch, and Fancy don't let me down." (The watch, I thought, was for the newly-turned-out sex worker to time her tricks.) I was amazed to learn that the mother really sings: "Here's your one chance [to get out of poverty], Fancy, don't let me down." Re "Hey Jude," I always assumed that was a response to the 19th-century Thomas Hardy novel, "Jude the Obscure." Maybe Julian was being compared to the fictional Jude (a luckless character if there ever was once).

  3. When I saw that title, I though of Janis Joplin's "Take Another Piece of My Heart" That line-- Didn't I make you feel/ Like you were the only man... But I was wrong. I made a mistake. :>)

    It is cute when Momma X or I sing along with a song using the wrong lyrics.

  4. And that thing about not getting the words in modern music; used to be you could understand EVERY word. Take Ella Fitzgerald. Sarah Vaughn. Big Joe Henderson, Dinah Washington, Charles Brown. Every word clear and distinct.

    That song by the police? "Roxanne"? Momma X used to sing: "Rock says... I had to explain to her that Roxanne was a prostitute and didn't have to put on her make-up. Didn't wear that dress tonight.

  5. This is great, Sue!

    You said:
    Most recently, I swear Taylor Swift sang, "got some lovely Starbucks lovers" in Blank Space, but she said, more coherently, "got a long list of ex-lovers."

    Thanks for resolving that one for me! I never got around to looking it up, but every time I hear that song, I think to myself, she can't really be saying Starbucks… I hear it very much the way you do—except I thought it was "lonely Starbucks lovers."

    One that I'm still wondering about is Lady Gaga's Poker Face. I swear I hear her singing "She's got me like nobody," which makes me think the song is about the speaker pretending to a male lover that she's straight while she's actually queer and in love with a woman… On the other hand, that feels so much like projection that I wonder if Gaga's really saying that. And I know other people hear/sing that line differently...


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