With the possible exception of deciphering the lyrics to 2Unlimited’s “No Limits” (it really loses its sparkle when listening to the 12″ extended remix. By Pete Waterman) it’s quite fun to decipher lyrics, mainly because there’s quite a lot of scope to get it wrong.
You have probably seen that there’s an entire website devoted to misheard lyrics which itself is named after a misheard Jimi Hendrix lyric (www.kissthisguy.com). Comedian Peter Kay does a funny routine about it too:
I was listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody the other day, and remembered that for quite a while I had an entirely different understanding of what the lyrics were. Quite why Beelzebub would want a devil for a sideboard and how impractical that would be if he wanted to store his crockery, glassware and tablecloths never really occurred to me, clearly. I never was great at deciphering lyrics. Indeed, when I was eight or nine years old and saw all those new wave and punk guys on Top of the Pops I could never understand a word, and just assumed they made it up as they went along.
Later, I thought that in Judas Priest‘s Living After Midnight, Rob Halford was sharing some cooking tips: “I come alive in a neon light / that’s when I make my food right” he says about 50 seconds in. (Listen now – he definitely says it). Later in the song he is clearly roasting a chicken or perhaps a nice bit of beef and telling us when to prepare the potatoes: “the joint starts firing / I begin”.
In U2’s Mysterious Ways, about thirty seconds in, Bono sings “You’ve been living on the ground / eating from a cat”. That’s just plain weird. And unhygienic.
As for Tom Sawyer by Rush? Perhaps the opposite problem: I think I know what most of the lyrics are – it’s just that I can’t make head nor tail of any of it. No wonder we all just play air drums to that song. It’s easier than learning the words.
Then, of course there’s Black Sabbath’s classic “Generals gather in their masses / just like witches at black masses” line. Ha! Clearly that’s wrong: no-one would rhyme “masses” with “masses” and get away with it surely? What’s that? They did? Wow….
You might lose a day and a half on KissThis Guy.com, so to save you some time, here’s a top ten of favourites from me:
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody: Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard
Starship – We Built This City: My pony plays the mamba
Pearl Jam: Even Flow: Even Flow, it’s a lot like buttered rice
Duran Duran: Hungry Like The Wolf: I smell like a Cow, I’m Lost and I’m Found.
Toto: Africa: I left my brains down in Africa
Bon Jovi: Living On A Prayer: It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not.
R.E.M.: Losing My Religion: Let’s pee in the corner, Let’s pee in the spotlight.
Arctic Monkeys: Brianstorm: JC Bajengas when the sun goes down.
Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This): Sweet Dreams are made of cheese
Doubtless you will have your own favourites – if so, do let me know about it below…
PS. A future post will attempt something that may never have been done before. I will attempt to decipher the lyrics to a ZZ Top song which has plagued me for years.
Record #201: The Police – So Lonely