It always begins with an earworm, right?
“It” being impromtu concerts, questionable columns and insanity.
An earworm is a psychologically disturbing way to describe a song that gets stuck on terminal loop in your brain, until something even worse (preferably not by Neil Sedaka) replaces it.
Please dear God, not Neil Sedaka.
This week my personal earworm is a song called Hot Potatoes. Only the name of the song is actually Rock Me Amadeaus.
In this song sung by Falco back in the 1980s, the only recognizable words to me are ‘hot potatoes,” sung many, many, many, many (Lord God) times in a row.
Only, those two words are not actually in the song. I’ve known this for years, but when I hear the song today it is once again reduced to a song about a side dish that goes with beef.
Enunciation can be your friend, Falco.
It’s hard to believe that a teenager would accept that a song was specifically written about potatoes, but it was the 80s, which also gave us Xanadu and MacArthur Park, a song about leaving a cake in the rain, so cut me some slack.
Misunderstood lyrics have been a point of conjecture and embarrassment since the Star Spangled Banner was written by attorney and poet Frances Scott Key and first sung in front of The Mrs., who promptly misunderstood the first line – “O say can you see?” – to say “Jose, can you see?” Not having any mutual friends named Jose, Mrs. Key was understandably confused.
My cousin, Kevin Slimp, admits that as a young kid he was also confused about Jose’s role in this song. This kind of confusion has become a tradition, and expanded to other, more frivolous songs like Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap) and You Picked A Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille.
What’s refreshing is to find out everyone has lyrical malfunctions and that makes for great comedy. My friends and readers are the most refreshingly hilarious, and they gave me a sampling of some of the best misheard lyrics this week:.
Lucille was over it, seriously
Everyone’s favorite seemed to be You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille (circa 1977) by Kenny Rogers. I found it to be the most misquoted song lyric in my circle of beautiful people.
The line in the song that says, four hungry children and a crop in the field was misquoted by many of my friends in the following, fairly similar ways:
400 children and a crock and a seal, or my personal favorite version,
400 children crappin’ in the field.
In a logical sense, unless they lived in a hotel, where else would they go?
Even Rock Stars Gotta Sleep
My friend, Cindy, said her most embarrassing lyric failure was from Kiss, when they sang I wanna rock and roll all night (and party every day).
She thought they were singing, “I wanna rock ‘n roll all night, and part of everyday.”
We all get to that point right up until we hit the “sleep is so underrated” phase of our lives.
Howard is a fine name
Both a mother and sister of the same man told me this man grew up believing God’s name is Howard, because in The Lord’s Prayer, it says “Howard be thy name.” His sister candidly told me “I have no idea if he still thinks that. I’ve never corrected him.”
I bet their reunions are a hoot.
Rude, but kinda catchy
Another friend thought Phil Collins’ hit single Sussudio” was saying Sue, Sue, Sue you’re old. She also thought the song Duke of Earl was Duke a Girl. Both rude and unnecessary, the thought.
Fashion Don’ts and Poker Etiquette
Tracy thought the song, Desperado by The Eagles, went Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds boy, she’ll beat you with a bow tie.
Which is almost as brutal as the original lyrics “beat you if she’s able,” but with a little more panache.
Define ‘Dirt cheap’
Julie, Cyndi and I were driving around on a Saturday night in 1982 when we plugged an AC/DC 8-track tape into Julie’s state of the art stereo system in her classic Mustang. We were singing the song Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap) like we were at an arena show when Cyndi belted out Dirty Deeds and the Thunder Chief.
Another friend, Debi, remembers she and her sister floating in the pool and her sister singing “Dirty Deed and the Dundle Cheek,” in a German accent.
Dirty Deeds are notoriously difficult to understand.
Why chickens can’t walk in paradise
I’ll end with my favorite.
Keith Vaughn, a DJ at The Bear 104.7, gave me what may be the best misheard lyric of my lifetime.
The same year Lucille left her 400 children to do their business in the field, Eddie Money was on the radio bragging about Two Tickets to Paradise, which may or may not have been a coincidence.
However, according to Vaughn, that is not what a few people heard. Instead, they thought Eddie Money had “Two chickens to paralyze.”
Jose, the chicken
I have the best friends. They give me earworms that aren’t even accurate and I’m highly entertained anyway. Even Jose can see that.