June 06, 2008
Take Me To The Closet, Bub
If you listen to music while you run (or any other time, but let's pretend this is a fitness post) you have probably encountered this phenomenon:
The song lyrics are difficult to hear, and sometimes the words you "hear" in fact sound quite silly. But you rack your brain for alternatives and it still really sounds like those are the actual words! Later you discover what the real lyrics are, and of course your goofy version was totally wrong.
Cranky Fitness does not pretend to be the first to discover the humor in "mondegreens," or misheard song lyrics. Google the phrase and you will find bazillions of hilarious examples.
However, does anyone else find it irritating that most of these collections are based on the premise that the listener actually thought the silly lyrics were the real ones?
Isn't it funny enough that the Creedence Clearwater lyrics "There's a Bad Moon on the Rise" sound so much like "There's a Bathroom on the Right" that you could almost swear that's what they were singing? Do sensible adults really have to pretend that they believed a song that hit Number 2 on the Billboard charts was written about the location of a restroom facility?
Or that Jimmy Hendrix was asking his listeners, back in 1966, to "Excuse me while I kiss this guy?"
Seems more likely that people heard funny words and thought: "Doesn't it almost kinda sound like they're saying ______? Wouldn't it be funny if those were the actual lyrics?" Yet it remains a tradition that we act as though we once were certain the goofy lyrics were authentic.
(So I'll concede the "when I was seven years old I thought..." sort of stories are a lot more credible. I thought lots of silly things myself when I was a kid. But even some of these sound a little fake sometimes).
But let's put aside the question of whether these mishearings are truly misunderstandings. Some of the collections you come across from various sources (like here or here) really are quite amusing.
For example, do you remember any of these classic lyrics?
Madonna's: "Like a virgin, touched for the thirty-first time."
(very first time);
Eurythmics: "It’s all right, babies come in bags"
(Baby's comin' back);
Robert Palmer's: "Might as well face it you're a dick with a glove"
(addicted to love);
Cher's: "Gypsies, Chimpanzees"
(Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves);
Maria Muldaur's: "Midnight after you're wasted"
(Midnight At the Oasis);
Joni Mitchell's : "A gay pair of guys put up a parking lot"
(They paved paradise and put up a parking lot);
Or the Eagle's : "I'm looking for a lover who won't blow my brother, she's so hard to find."
(my cover, not brother)
(Note: the "corrected" lyrics in parentheses may not be entirely right either, as I didn't bother to look 'em all up).
Alas, an effort to turn this into a more intellectual scholarly discussion of misheard song lyrics turned up nothing the least bit researchy. Well, except this totally incomprehensible study. (Seriously, I have no idea what the hell that was supposed to be about).
So what are some of my mishearings? Unfortunately, most of mine aren't that funny, or else they are entirely too common. For example, the Bee-Gees song "Bald-headed woman" came on at the gym the other day, but tons of us hear it that way, not as "More than a woman." Likewise, I'm not the only one who hears the Savage Garden tune "I Want You" as referencing a poultry-flavored soft drink, Chicken-Cherry Cola. I couldn't even figure out what the heck the real lyrics were.
I do have a tune on my iPod in which a woman enthusiastically implores her man to "Take Me To The Closet, Bub." However, she doesn't sound nearly sultry enough to be suggesting a furtive sexual encounter surrounded by coats and umbrellas, so I suspected those weren't the real lyrics. Yet even trying really hard to make sense of the words, it took weeks to finally hear them as "Take Me to The Clouds Above."
And there's a line in a song called "Poison" in which the singer is talking about how tempting having sex with her lover is:
"Your mouth, so hot; your ware, uncut;
"Your skin, so wet; black lace, on sweat"
I guessed I was probably hearing that wrong--would she really comment on the fact that her boyfriend had an uncircumcised penis? And would she use the rather old-fashioned sounding "ware" as a euphemism? But it kept sounding like that's exactly what she was saying. I finally had to look it up online to find out that "your ware, uncut," was actually "your web, I'm caught."
Dang, I shouldn't have looked. I liked the uncircumcised version better.
So obviously I'm not very good at funny mishearings--I'm hoping you all can do much better--either ones you misheard yourselves, or other funny ones you've come across.
In the meantime, here's an amusing video, and you don't even have to like Pearl Jam to enjoy it.