Paul DePaoli, Casey Stengle, TS, ?, Mike Perrelle, Jerry Kolosky
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The List As of 10-09-13: Keep ‘em coming, we haven’t scratched the surface yet… Abba: Dancing Queen
Aerosmith:Combination Aerosmith:Walk this Way Aerosmith: Back In The Saddle Al Green: Let's Stay Together
Al Hirt: Green Hornet Alice in Chains: Them Bones Allman Brothers Band: Done Somebody Wrong
Allman Brothers Band:Statesboro Blues Allman Brothers Band:One Way Out Allman Brothers Band:Whipping Post Allman Brothers Band:Blue Sky Allman Brothers Band: Ramblin' Man** Allman Brothers Band: Stormy Monday Allman Brothers Band: Drunken Hearted Boy Allman Brothers Band: Mountain Jam The Animals: Wild Thing Anita Ward: Ring My Bell Aretha Franklin: Respect
Art Garfunkel: All I Know Asleep At The Wheel: Route 66 Astrud Gilberto: So Nice
Getz/Gilberto: Girl From Impanema
Atlanta Rhythm Section: So Into You Average White Band: Pick Up the Peices Bad Company:Rock Steady Bad Company:Bad Company
Banarama: Cruel Summer
The Band: Don't Do It (Live) The Beatles: O-Bla-Di, O-Bla-Da
The Beatles: Blackbird
The Beatles: Here Comes the Sun
The Beatles: Twist and Shout
The Beatles:In My Life
The Beatles: Rocky Racoon
Bedlam: Magic Carpet Ride Bee Gees: To Love Somebody
Bill Withers: Lean On Me
Bill Withers: Ain't No Sunshine
Billy Joel:Piano Man Billy Joel:Just the Way You Are
Billy Joel:The Stranger
Billy Joel: Only The Good Die Young Billy Preston: Will It Go Round In Circles Bob Dylan: Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35 Bob Dylan: Lay Lady Lay Bob Dylan: Like A Rolling Stone Bob Dylan: Maggie's Farm Bob Dylan: Knocking On Heaven's Door Bob Dylan: I Want You
Bob Seger: Turn The Page Bob Seger:Hollywood Nights
Bob Seger: Fire Lake
Bob Seger: Against The Wind
Bobby Darin: Sailing Bobby Darin: Mack The Knife Bobby Darin: More Bobby Fuller Four: I Fought The Law
Bob Marley: Redemption Song
Bob Marley: Exodus Bob Marley: Three Little Birds
Bob Seger: Fire Lake
Bob Seger: Against The Wind
Boston:Don't Look Back Boston:More Than A Feeling Boz Scaggs: Loan Me A Dime Bruce Springsteen:Tenth Avenue Freezeout Bruce Springsteen:Born to Run Bruce Springsteen: Racing in the Street Bruce Springsteen: Rosalita Bruce Springsteen: Backstreets Bruce Springsteen: Jungleland Bruce Springsteen: Kitty's Back Bruce Springsteen: Thunder Road Carole King: It's Too Late Cat Stevens: Father and Son Cat Stevens: Moonshadow Charlie Daniels Band: Carolina (I Remember You) Charlie Daniels Band: Saddle Tramp Charlie Daniels Band: Devil Went Down to Georgia Cher: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves Chicago:25 or 6 to 4 Chicago:Saturday in the Park Chicago: Color My World Chubby Checkers: The Twist Climax Blues Band:Couldn’t Get it Right Cream: Sunshine of Your Love
Creedence Clearwater Revival:Have You Ever Seen The Rain Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bad Moon Rising Creedence Clearwater Revival: Born on The Bayou
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Fortunate Son
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Proud Mary
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Suite Judy Blue Eyes Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Teach Your Children Dave Brubeck: Take Five Dave Mason: Feeling Alright David Bromberg: Mr. Bojangles David Essex: Rock On David Gray: Babylon Dean Martin: Sway Dean Martin: That's Amore
Dean Martin: On an Evening in Roma
Dean Martin: Volare
Derek and The Dominoes: Layla Derek and The Dominoes: Why Does Love Have To Be So Sad Derek and The Dominoes: Keep On Growing Derek and The Dominoes: Bell Bottom Blues
Derek and The Dominoes: Have You Ever Loved A Woman
Derek and The Dominoes: Key to the Highway
Dobie Grey: Drift Away Don McLean: American Pie Donna Summer:Love to Love You Baby Donna Summer:Heard it on the Radio Donna Summer:Last Dance Doobie Brothers:It Keeps You Running Doobie Brothers:China Grove Doobie Brothers:Black Water Doobie Brothers:Another Park, Another Sunday Doobie Brothers: Long Train Runnin'
Doobie Brothers: Listen to the Music
Duane Allman:Please Be With Me Dusty Springfield: Son of a Preacher Man Dusty Springfield: The Look of Love The Doors:Strange Days Eagles: Lyin' Eyes** Eagles:Life in the Fast Lane** Eagles: Desperado Eagles:Hotel California Eagles:Take it Easy Earth Wind and Fire: Shining Star Earth Wind and Fire: September Earth Wind and Fire: Sing A Song Edgar Winter Group: Frankenstein Edwin Starr: War Elliot Smith: Tomorrow Tomorrow Elton John: Your Song
Elton John: Daniel Elton John: Honky Cat
Elton John: Saturday Night Elton John:Friends
Elton John: Tiny Dancer
Elvis Costello: She
Elvis Costello: Alison Emerson Lake and Palmer:Fanfare for a Common Man Emerson Lake and Palmer:Lucky Man Eric Clapton:Blues Power Eric Clapton: Lay Down Sally
Eric Clapton:Hand Jive
Eric Clapton:After Midnight
Eric Clapton:Wonderful Tonight
Eric Clapton: Change The World
Eric Clapton: After Midnight
Etta James: At Last** Eva Cassidy: Autumn Leaves
Eva Cassidy: Fields of Gold
The 220.127.116.11's: Woo Hoo** The Faces: Maybe I'm Amazed** The Faces: Three Button Hand Me Down** Fleetwood Mac:Say You Love Me Fleetwood Mac: Rhiannon Fleetwood Mac: Landslide** Fleetwood Mac: The Chain Fleetwood Mac: Secondhand News Foo Fighters: Let it Die Foreigner:Feels Like the First Time The Foundations: Build Me Up Buttercup** Four Tops: I Can't Help Myself** Frank Sinatra: Summerwind** Frank Zappa: Willie the Pimp Gary Wright: Dream Weaver George Benson: On Broadway** George Harrison: Bangla Desh George Thorogood: Who Do You Love George Thorogood: One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer Gladys Knight and The Pips: Midnight Train to Georgia** Gladys Knight and The Pips: Neither One of Us** Graham Nash: Our House Grand Funk Railroad: An American Band Grand Funk Railroad: Some Kind of Wonderful Gregg Allman: I'm No Angel Grinderwitch: Homebound The Guess Who: American Woman Harry Belafonte: Jump In Line Harry Chapin: Cat's In The Cradle Harry Nilsson: Coconut** Henry Paul Band:Ghost Jackie Dee Shannon: What The World Needs Now Is Love** Jackson Browne:Running On Empty Jackson 5: I'll Be There James Brown: Get up Offa That Thing James Gang:Funk #49 James Taylor:Secret O' Life James Taylor: Fire and Rain** James Taylor: Sweet Baby James** Janis Ian:At Seventeen Jeff Beck: Freeway Jam Jeff Beck: Head for Backstage Pass Jefferson Starship: Miracles Jerry Mungo:In The Summertime Jethro Tull:Aqualung Jethro Tull:Thick as a Brick Jethro Tull:Songs from the Wood Jethro Tull:Cross-Eyed Mary Jethro Tull:A New Day Yesterday Jim Croce: Time In A Bottle** Jimi Hendrix: Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix: Wild Thing** Jimi Hendrix: Fire Jimi Hendrix: All Along the Watchtower
Jimi Hendrix: Red House Jimmy Buffett:Margaritaville** Jive Bunny: That's What I Like** Jive Bunny: Swing That Mood** Joan Baez: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down Joe Cocker: A Little Help From My Friends** Joe Tex: I Gotcha Joe Walsh:Life’s Been Good Joe Walsh: Rocky Mountain Way** Johnny Mathis: Wonderful** Johnny Nash: I Can See Clearly Now** Joni Mitchell:Both Sides Now** Joni Mitchell: Chelsea Morning Kansas:Dust in the Wind KC and The Sunshine Band: I'm Your Boogie Man KC and The Sunshine Band: Get Down Tonight Kiss:Deuce Kiss:Firehouse Kool and The Gang: Jungle Boogie Kirstie MacColl: In These Shoes? Led Zeppelin: I Gotta Move Led Zeppelin: Over The Hills and Far Away Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll Led Zeppelin: Communication Breakdown Led Zeppelin:The Ocean Led Zeppelin:Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin: Nobody's Fault But Mine Leon Russell: Lady Blue Les McCann and Eddie Harris: Compared to What** Little Feat: Time Loves a Hero Little Feat:Juanita Little Feat:Fat Man in The Bathtub The Lively Ones: Surf Rider** Looking Glass:Brandy** Lou Reed: Intro/Sweet Jane Lynyrd Skynyrd: I Need You** Lynyrd Skynyrd:Sweet Home Alabama** Lynyrd Skynyrd:Gimme Three Steps Lynyrd Skynyrd: On The Hunt Lynyrd Skynyrd:Aint No Good Life Lynyrd Skynyrd:What’s Your Name Lynyrd Skynyrd:Take Your Time Lynyrd Skynyrd:Cry For the Bad Man Lynyrd Skynyrd: That Smell Mama's Pride: Long Time Marvin Gaye: Let's Get It On Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: Ain't No Mountain High Enough Marshall Tucker Band:24 Hours at a Time (Live Version) Marshall Tucker Band: Am I The Kind of Man Marshall Tucker Band: A New Life Marshall Tucker Band: Last of the Singing Cowboys Marshall Tucker Band: Running Like The Wind The Moody Blues: Nights in White Satin Motorhead: Back at the Funny Farm Nancy Sinatra: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)** Nat King Cole: L.O.V.E.** Neil Young: Don't Let It Bring You Down Neil Young: Old Man Neil Young: Mr. Soul Nina Simone: Feelin' Good** Nirvana: (New Wave) Poly Nirvana: Breed Norman Greenbaum: Spirit in the Sky The O’Jays:Use Ta Be My Girl** The O'Jays: Backstabbers The Osmonds: One Bad Apple The Outlaws: Green Grass and High Tides** Ozark Mountain Daredevils: Jackie Blue Parliament: Flashlight Patsy Cline: Crazy** Paul McCartney: Junior's Farm Paul Simon: Still Crazy Paul Simon: Diamonds in the Souls of My Shoes Peggy Lee: Fever** Percy Sledge: When A Man Loves A Woman Peter Frampton: I'm In You Peter Frampton:Do You Feel Like We Do Pink: Raise Your Glass
Pink Floyd:Money Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here** Pink Floyd: Crazy Diamond Pink Floyd: Time Pink Floyd: Comfortably Numb The Police: Roxanne Queen:Tie Your Mother Down Radiohead: I Might Be Wrong Radiohead: Body Snatchers Rage Against the Machine: The Ghost of Tom Joad Redbone: Come and Get Your Love** Red Hot Chili Peppers: Slow Cheetah Red Hot Chili Peppers: Freakey Styley REO Speed Wagon:Roll With the Changes Richie Valens: La Bamba** Rick Nelson:Garden Party Righteous Brothers: Lovin' Feeling Rolling Stones: Lets Spend the Night Together Rolling Stones: Waiting on a Friend Rolling Stones: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction Rolling Stones: Honky Tonk Woman Rolling Stones: Brown Sugar Rolling Stones: Wild Horses** Rolling Stones: No Expectations The Romantics: What I Like About You** Sam Cooke: You Send Me** Sam Philips: I Need Love Santa Esmeralda: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood** Santana:Soul Sacrifice Santana:Oye Como Va** Santana:Black Magic Woman** Santana: Europa Sly and The Family Stone: Family Affair** Smiley Lewis: I Hear You Knockin'** Spinners: Working My Way Back** Spinners: Forgive Me Girl** Stan Getz/Joabim: Girl From Impanema** Staple Singers:I’ll Take You There** The Statler Brothers: Flowers on the Wall** Stealers Wheel: Stuck In The Middle With You** Steely Dan: Black Friday** Steely Dan: Sign in Stranger** Steely Dan: Kid Charlemagne** Steppenwolf: Born to be Wild The Steve Miller Band: The Joker The Steve Miller Band: Swingtown Stevie Wonder: You Are The Sunshine of My Life** Stevie Wonder: Superstitious** Stevie Wonder: For Once In My Life Stevie Wonder: Just Enough for The City** Stories: Brother Louie** Styxx:Come Sail Away Sugarloaf: Green-Eyed Lady** Supertramp: School** Supertramp: Bloody Well Right Supertramp: Goodbye Stranger Supertramp: Take The Long Way Home The Temptations: My Girl** The Temptations: The Way You Do The Things You Do** The Temptations: Papa Was A Rolling Stone** .38 Special: Travellin' Man .38 Special: Hold On Loosely .38 Special: Caught Up In You Three Dog Night: Joy To The World** Three Dog Night: Mama Told Me Not To Come** Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: American Girl** Tony Bennett: Volare** Tony Bennett: Steppin' Out With My Baby Tower of Power:Don’t Change Horses in the Middle of the Stream Van Morrison: Brown Eyed Girl** Van Morrison: Caravan** Van Morrison: Crazy Love** Van Morrison: Moon Dance** Van Morrison: Wild Nights** Van Morrison: The Way You Look Tonight** Van Morrison: Wavelength Vince Guaraldi: O Tannenbaum** Vince Guaraldi: Linus and Lucy** Vince Guaraldi: My Little Drum** Vince Guaraldi: Christmas Time is Here** Vince Guaraldi: Skating** Vince Guaraldi: The Christmas Song** Vince Guaraldi: Fur Elise** War with Eric Burden: Spill The Wine** Wild Cherry: Play That Funky Music White Stripes: Ikcy Thump The Who: My Generation The Who: Tommy The Who: Baba O'Riley The Who:Getting in Tune Winters Brothers Band: Sang Her Love Songs Winters Brothers Band: I Can't Help It X: Burning House of Love Yes: America ZZ-Top: Tush ZZ-Top: Sharp Dressed Man
Rhumba - 10th Reunion
Rock's Oldest Joke: Yelling 'Freebird!' In a Crowded Theater
It's a Request, a Rebuke, A Cry From the Heart, A Tribute to Skynyrd
By JASON FRY THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE March 17, 2005
One recent Tuesday night at New York's Bowery Ballroom, the Crimea had just finished its second song. The Welsh quintet's first song had gone over fairly well, the second less so, and singer/guitarist Davey MacManus looked out at the still-gathering crowd.
Then, from somewhere in the darkness came the cry, "Freebird!"
It made this night like so many other rock 'n' roll nights in America.
"Freebird" isn't the Crimea's song; it's from the 1973 debut album by legendary Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band's nine-minute march from ruminative piano to wailing guitar couldn't be less like the Crimea's jagged punk-pop. But it was requested nonetheless.
Somebody is always yelling out the title. "I don't know that I've ever seen a show where it hasn't happened," says Bill Davis of the veteran country-punk band Dash Rip Rock.
"It's just the most astonishing phenomenon," says Mike Doughty, the former front man of the "deep slacker jazz" band Soul Coughing, adding that "these kids, they can't be listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd."
Yelling "Freebird!" has been a rock cliché for years, guaranteed to elicit laughs from drunks and scorn from music fans who have long since tired of the joke. And it has spread beyond music, prompting the Chicago White Sox organist to add the song to her repertoire and inspiring a greeting card in which a drunk holding a lighter hollers "Freebird!" at wedding musicians.
Bands mostly just ignore the taunt. But one common retort is: "I've got your 'free bird' right here." That's accompanied by a middle finger. It's a strategy Dash Rip Rock's former bassist Ned Hickel used. According to fans' accounts of shows, so have Jewel and Hot Tuna's Jack Casady. Jewel declines to comment. Mr. Casady says that's "usually not my response to those kind of things."
Others have offered more than the bird. On a recent live album, Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock declares that "if this were the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and you were going to die in 20 minutes -- just long enough to play 'Freebird' -- we still wouldn't play it." Dash Rip Rock often plays "Stairway to Freebird," a mash-up of the Skynyrd epic and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" that Mr. Davis boasts lasts "less than two minutes. ... You're finished before people get mad."
A few years ago, Mr. Doughty started promoting the Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men" as the new "Freebird," asking audiences at his solo shows to call for the disco chestnut instead. Now, he says, he gets yells for both songs at every performance.
A harsh reaction to "Freebird" came from the late comedian Bill Hicks during a Chicago gig in the early 1990s. On a bootleg recording of the show, Mr. Hicks at first just sounds irked. "Please stop yelling that," he says. "It's not funny, it's not clever -- it's stupid."
The comic soon works himself into a rage, but the "Freebirds" keep coming. "Freebird," he finally says wearily, then intones: "And in the beginning there was the Word -- 'Freebird.' And 'Freebird' would be yelled throughout the centuries. 'Freebird,' the mantra of the moron."
How did this strange ritual begin? "Freebird" is hardly obscure -- it's a radio staple consistently voted one of rock's greatest songs. One version -- and an important piece of the explanation -- anchors Skynyrd's 1976 live album "One More From the Road." On the record, singer Ronnie Van Zant, who was killed along with two other bandmates in a 1977 plane crash, asks the crowd, "What song is it you want to hear?" That unleashes a deafening call for "Freebird," and Skynyrd obliges with a 14-minute rendition.
To understand the phenomenon, it also helps to be from Chicago. When asked why they continue to request "Freebird," Mr. Hicks's tormentors yell out "Kevin Matthews!"
Kevin Matthews is a Chicago radio personality who has exhorted his fans -- the KevHeads -- to yell "Freebird" for years, and claims to have originated the tradition in the late 1980s, when he says he hit upon it as a way to torment Florence Henderson of "Brady Bunch" fame, who was giving a concert. He figured somebody should yell something at her "to break up the monotony." The longtime Skynyrd fan settled on "Freebird," saying the epic song "just popped into my head."
Mr. Matthews says the call was heeded, inspiring him to go down the listings of coming area shows, looking for entertainers who deserved a "Freebird" and encouraging the KevHeads to make it happen.
But he bemoans the decline of "Freebird" etiquette. "It was never meant to be yelled at a cool concert -- it was meant to be yelled at someone really lame," he says. "If you're going to yell 'Freebird,' yell 'Freebird' at a Jim Nabors concert."
Still, Mr. Matthews treasures his trove of recorded "Freebird" moments -- such as baffled comedian Elayne Boosler wondering why the audience is shouting "reverb." And he argues that good bands simply acknowledge it and move on. "The people who are conceited, the so-called artists who get really offended by it, they deserve it," he says.
But did "Freebird" truly start with the KevHeads? Longtime Chicago Tribune music writer Greg Kot says he remembers the cry from the early 1980s. He suggests it originated as an in-joke among indie-rock fans "having their sneer at mainstream classic rock."
Other music veterans think it dates back to 1970s audiences' shouts for it and other guitar sagas, such as "Whipping Post," by the Allman Brothers Band, and "Smoke on the Water," by Deep Purple.
They may all be right: It's possible "Freebird" began as a rallying cry for Skynyrd Nation and a sincere request from guitar lovers, was made famous by the live cut, taken up by ironic clubgoers, given new life by Mr. Matthews, and eventually lost all meaning and became something people holler when there's a band onstage.
But as with many mysteries, the true origin may be unknowable -- cold comfort for bands still to be confronted with the inevitable cry from the darkness. For them, here's a strategy tried by a brave few: Call the audience's bluff. Phish liked to sing it a cappella. The Dandy Warhols play a slowed-down take singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor describes as sung "like T. Rex would if he were on a lot of pills." And Dash Rip Rock has performed the real song in order to surprise fans expecting the parody. For his part, Mr. Doughty suggests that musicians make a pact: Whenever anyone calls for "Freebird," play it in its entirety -- and if someone calls for it again, play it again.
"That would put a stop to 'Freebird,' I think," he says. "It would be a bad couple of years, but it might be worth it."
So what do the members of Skynyrd think of the tradition? Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie's brother and the band's singer since 1987, says "it's not an insult at all -- I think it's kind of cool. It's fun, and people are doing it in a fun way. That's what music's supposed to be about."
Besides, Mr. Van Zant has a confession: His wife persuaded him to see Cher in Jacksonville a couple of years ago, and he couldn't resist yelling "Freebird!" himself. "My wife is going, 'Stop! Stop!' " he recalls, laughing. "I embarrassed the hell out of her." (Courtesy of Kenny Dahl)
Donna Duchene, Karen Vangor, Jill Tully, Rose Repicky (February 1976)
Another Somebody Sung Somebody's Song Wrong
Hey, You'll Always Play the Hits Just Like You Heard 'Em
By Paul Farhi Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, June 8, 2008
Okay, here it comes again, that part toward the end of the Creedence Clearwater song, "Looking Out My Back Door," when John Fogerty sings, "Ann-Marie's an elephant, a-playin' in the band/Won't you take a ride on a flyin' spool . . ." The mind reels. How delightful: A musical elephant named Ann-Marie (I wonder what instrument she plays). And taking a ride on a flyin' spool? Sounds thrilling, though perhaps a bit tricky and dangerous.Only I'm pretty certain that's not what Fogerty is singing. Like dozens, maybe hundreds of pop songs I've been singing along with, I know I'm mangling those lines, and have -- can it be? -- for decades.Back when, the only way to puzzle out a misunderstood lyric was to buy the album and check the lyric sheet or liner notes (you remember albums, don't you, kids?). For more than a decade, it's been easy and free. Tap a few keystrokes into one of the many lyric sites on the Internet, and the words become as clear as sheet music.
But really, why would anyone want to do that? Why would anyone bother to tamper with one's golden, screwed-up, misheard lyrics? Why bother with fastidious exactitude now, after you've been singing it your way at least 6,587 times?Music is personal, even when it's being consumed by millions of other people. You never lose the songs that seeped into your head at a certain age. They are forever linked to a time, a place, experiences. The associations are vivid: whom you knew, whom you hated, whom you had a crush on. Clothes, food, smells all come rushing back. If you correct what you thought you heard, you pull on the thread of memory, disturbing the entire fabric.You are, on some level, what you mishear. "
Any misheard lyric is an impromptu Rorschach test," writes Gavin Edwards, who has collected misheard lyrics in several volumes of amusingly named volumes (" 'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy," "He's Got the Whole World in His Pants," etc.).When I hear "Beast of Burden," in my mind, it's the summer, and I'm a teenager painting houses again. As the strokes go back and forth in the heat, Mick and I sing the bridge part together: "Yeah, all your sisters, I can suck a duck . . ." Never understood that line. And I know it isn't right. And I don't care.Or maybe I'm driving down the coast highway in my first car, to my first real job. It's 6 in the morning (early shift), and I push the cassette into the dashboard. And that staccato bass starts to come up with the sun. And the Knack guy sings -- or so I thought then and now -- "Is it just a matter of time, Sharona?/Is it just a debt to be, a debt to me/Or is it just in my mind, Sharona?"It doesn't quite make sense. And yet it's perfect.This Pavlovian response mechanism also works with songs you can't stand. Maybe it works even better with songs you hate because -- and I'm sure brain scientists will back me up on this -- songs you hate bore even deeper into your consciousness than songs you love. I've had a nagging suspicion all these years that the lyrics to "Dancing Queen" don't go: "Night is young and the music's high/We can do the Watusi/Everything's fine . . . But I like it better that way. I mean, she's a dancing queen, so surely she'd know how to do the Watusi. Come to think of it, other people's mishearings can be just as endearing as one's own. I will never be able to hear Hammer's "2 Legit 2 Quit" without thinking of my son, 5 or 6 at the time, doing his Hammer moves and enthusiastically chanting, "Do the jet! Do the bella kwee! Hey, hey!" On the few occasions when I've checked, a song's actual lyrics turn out to be less interesting that my mistaken understanding of them. Bob Seger is actually singing, "Call me a relic, call me what you will" on "Old Time Rock & Roll." But I prefer my misinterpretation: "Call me a rabbit, call me what you will . . . "The apparent name for this phenomenon is mondegreens, a word coined by writer Sylvia Wright in the 1950s to describe her childhood misreading of an old Scottish folk song that referred, or so she thought, to "Lady Mondegreen." Instead, the song described the slaying of a noble and the townspeople who "laid him on the green."The all-time greatest mondegreen may be "Louie, Louie." The song has been recorded by hundreds of artists, but I refer here to the 1963 hit by the Kingsmen. When the song came out, some parents thought lead singer Jack Ely's slurring of the lyrics masked indecent or obscene statements. The resultant uproar led to a federal investigation. "Louie" is actually a sweet story of a homesick sailor who longs to return to his girlfriend ("A fine girl, she wait for me/Me catch the ship across the sea . . . ").A somewhat similar controversy broke out a few years later with "I Am the Walrus," the Beatles classic from "Magical Mystery Tour." The acid-trip-inspired tune contains a spacey, distorted chant at the end that some people to this day swear is "Everybody smokes pot" and others insist is a repeated obscene comment.
I'd argue that "Benny and the Jets" is a close second to "Louie" in the mondegreen sweepstakes. Elton John's 1973 hit is so incomprehensibly sung that only a few of its lyrics ("B-b-b-b-Benny and the Jets!") are actually understandable without liner notes or sensitive sonic equipment some 35 years after the fact. I am pleased to report that this song is still mystifying people, as evidenced by a brief scene in the recent movie "27 Dresses," in which the characters argued over the lyrics.Anyway, here, among the many mangled verses, is what I think I'm hearing:Oh, it's a-weird and s'wonderful.I'll fancy the ready cane.She's gotta let me moveI know how, too . . .You know I read a little pack of 'zines.I'll grant you that Elton's actual lyrics are probably better than my own. But that doesn't matter to me. My understanding of "Benny" is locked in adolescence and hasn't grown at all over the years. I'm very proud of that.
I mean, finding the real lyrics now would be like finding that some other long-cherished artifice of memory wasn't strictly true, as if your dad wasn't really that strong or your first girlfriend, really, wasn't all that pretty. All this may be literally true. But that's the problem with the literal truth: It has very little poetry. And it sure as heck ain't got no soul. (Courtesy of Kenny Dahl)
There is music in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument: for there is music wherever there is harmony, order or proportion... Thomas Browne
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