Lyrics can be a tricky business. All your life you can think a song goes a certain way and then “wham” somebody tells you differently and suddenly what you thought was true all these years is wrong, even though you sang it that way a couple thousand times or so.
Of course at first you fight it and argue and defend your version and then, thanks to the Internet, where you’re proven wrong, you slowly accept it and move on, eventually laughing at what you thought once was true.
Ha, I guess it’s more than just song lyrics that come into play when you think about it, but that’s today’s topic and I only have so much space, so here goes nothing.
My favourite story about getting lyrics wrong harkens back to the ‘70s when a friend of mine was bugging me about a turtleneck I was wearing and said something like “you remind me of that Neil Diamond song, you know Reverend Blue Jeans.”
It was in my parent’s basement, by the door, and I can remember it like it was yesterday, well in my edited memory bank I can, plus I’ve told it a few times and likely made it even better than it really was but, hey, it’s my story.
So, I looked at him and smiled and said something like: “What?”
And he said something like: “You know, it’s on the radio a lot.”
However he started to look a little sheepish, like he knew maybe he got something wrong and I was setting him up for a fairly big fall, cause, after all he knew I followed music fairly closely.
“I think you mean Forever in Blue Jeans, buddy,” as I let him down fairly gently but couldn’t help laughing in spite of myself.
In fact I laughed pretty darn hard.
OK, I nearly busted a gut and he came around to thinking it was pretty funny too and we still talk about it today, well, at least I do, ha.
But to be honest I’ve screwed up similarly on songs that I could have sworn went a certain way only to find out I’ve been oh so wrong.
Of course Bob Dylan songs don’t count, cause who knows what he’s saying anyway, except he’s a genius, of course, and that’s the thing about geniuses anyway, we don’t quite get what they’re saying but it sure sounds important.
And rap, well forget about it and I don’t think I want to know, even though my kids have tried to school me on its merits.
However, recently I learned that I was woefully mistaken at a Murray McLauchlan concert here in Vernon.
It was great, by the way, and the guy still sings a great song and may tell stories and charm the audience even better than he did when I saw him at the Queen E in Vancouver, oh about 1981 or so.
I even prepared by playing his Greatest Hits album a few times before the concert and so when he started singing his signature song, Farmer’s Song, I was ready.
The chorus goes something like:
“Straw hats and old dirty hankies,
Moppin’ my face like I should……”
Except it doesn’t.
In fact, the second line goes:
“Mopin’ a face like a shoe.”
I looked it up, cause I thought I might have been wrong, and I was, gol’ darn it anyway.
So, all these years, OK decades actually, I’ve been singing it wrong.
Well, as Steve Martin, said back in the ‘70s, “well, excuuuuuuse me,” and you know what, I think I might like my version better, after all I am kind of partial to it after all these years.
And I’m not sure I even get the original line, no offence Murray.
So, anyway, my apologies to my friend who got it wrong so many years ago, I’m joining the club after all.
So everyone, join in:
But it don’t sing and dance
And it don’t walk
And long as I can have you
Here with me, I’d much rather be
Reverend Blue Jeans.”