Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bathroom on the right

You gotta appreciate misheard lyrics, I know I do. We all know the universal classics, like Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" (...There's a bathroom on the right...) or R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" (...Let's pee in the corner, let's pee in the spotlight...). There's probably countless sites out there like this one or this one that celebrate this phenomenon. Check them out if you have nothing better to do.

But I would imagine that many folks might have their own unique collection of alternate lyrics. There's a handful that I've had over the years, so here they are. Feel free to share yours as well:

"Rock the Casbah"
The Clash (1982)

I (like many others) really had no idea what they were talking about in this one, but the best I could figure (in my early passing attempts at hearing the song) was that it was about some British dudes going to a king's wedding or something and finding that the bar was not an open one. And so, being the punk rockers they were, they had to rock the cash bar instead ("bar" being sung with an English accented "bah"). My hearing's much better now.

As it turns out, this 1982 gem was inspired by the banning of rock music in Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini. A "qasbah" is any fortified city found in Islamic countries. And qasbahs can always use a good rocking.

"Every Time You Go Away"
Paul Young (1985)

I wish Hall & Oates would've
recorded the Diarrhea Song...
Ok, well, this one is not really a misheard one. It's an intentionally mis-sung one. But when I sang "Every time you go away, you take a piece of cake with you" in front of my 3rd grade chums, I was a hit. In the minds of my 8 year-old comrades, this was the funniest thing they'd heard since the "Diarrhea Song." And ever since, I've sang along in my head with a piece of cake, instead of a piece of Paul Young.

An interesting side note to this one: Daryl Hall wrote this song.

"Dancing in the Dark"
Bruce Springsteen (1984)

Cox's dancing defined the 1980's
Another intentional one here, but it has stuck over the years. Sometimes songs get stuck in my head and I sing them over and over until the lyrics change. Eventually the song I was singing proclaimed that "ya can't start a fire - ya can't start a fire without a shark..."

Luckily, my sister heard me sing this one and she thought it was awesome. Man, I was a comic genius.

Later on, I would have the good fortune of having a college roommate who also shared a predilection for intentionally/unintentionally mixing up the lyrics. Yea for nerds...

"Soothe Me"
Sam & Dave (1967)

This classic song was featured in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers, while Jake and Elwood are cruising along with a Sam & Dave tape playing on the 8-track. As the song is playing under the film dialogue, it was kinda hard to make out. But as a youngster, I heard "Do me, baby, do me! Do me with your tire!" The actual line is "Soothe me, baby, soothe me! Soothe me with your kindness."

"Just the Two of Us"
Grover Washington, Jr. featuring Bill Withers (1981)

The Marcing Tuba,
or "Sousaphone":
one sexy horn...
Well, I guess my hearing and/or my attention span was severely inadequate when I was younger, because this one had me for the longest time. This one is my all-time best misheard lyric (and apparently I'm not the only one). For the longest time, I literally thought this song was about a tuba.

I always wondered why Bill was singing about his tuba. And that sax solo, I assumed that sound was a tuba - I didn't know what a tuba sounded like. I really thought it went "Just the tuba, we can make it if we try . . . just the tuba, you and I..." It made me wonder if there was something magical about the tuba that could heal/spice up any relationship.

This song was also featured in chewing gum commercials (cinnamon Dentyne, I think), and so I was confused - can you even play the tuba while chewing gum?

Dentyne + the Tuba = bau baum
I don't remember how old I was when I realized the real lyrics (possibly high school, possibly later), but I can distinctly remember that at some point it clicked, and being blown away by how logical it now was. And in the end I would prefer it being about a tuba. The tuba just isn't as mysterious anymore...