April 18, 2001

When Bad Lyrics
Happen to Good Songs

By Roy Rivenburg

Lame Lyrics (Reprise): It’s time for another installment of lyrical lunacy, in which we investigate the idiotic world of rock and country lyrics.

Our first category is dumb words to otherwise decent songs. And the winner, submitted by reader Logan Runger, is Tim McGraw’s ‘‘When She Wakes Up,’’ which contains this conundrum: ‘‘Lord, I don’t wanna be here in the morning, when she wakes up and finds me gone.’’ Uh, how could she find you gone if you’re still there? Unless you’ve managed to discover a formula for turning invisible.

Another well-known dumb lyricist is Dewey Bunnell of America, who penned ‘‘A Horse With No Name’’ with its classic verse: ‘‘The heat was hot.’’ As opposed to lukewarm?

Bunnell told Wireless Flash News Service that he now cringes at some of his own lyrics, especially the double negatives in ‘‘Tin Man’’ (‘‘Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man’’) and ‘‘A Horse With No Name’’ (‘‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain’’). Bunnell insists he speaks correctly in regular life and can’t explain why his grammar slips during songwriting.

Our final category is misheard lyrics, also known as mondegreens. Recent favorites (courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle and www.thechicagoloop.net/lyrics) include:

-- Steve Winwood’s ‘‘Bring me a higher love’’ misinterpreted as ‘‘Bring me an iron lung.’’
-- The Police’s ‘‘When the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around’’ transformed into ‘‘you make the best homemade stew around.’’
-- Paul Simon’s ‘‘Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away’’ recast as ‘‘Mama, don’t take my chromosomes away.’’
-- The Beatles’ ‘‘When I’m 64’’ mangled into ‘‘Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 6-feet-4?’’
-- Another misheard Beatles lyric involved ‘‘the girl with kaleidoscope eyes’’ from ‘‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’’ Mondegreen version: ‘‘The girl with colitis goes by.’’
-- But our top prize goes to a discombobulated interpretation of Patti LaBelle’s ‘‘Lady Marmalade.’’ The real line is ‘‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?’’ But at least one person thought LaBelle was propositioning Bigfoot: ‘‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, Sasquatch?’’

Lawsuit of the Week: Love Your Neighbor Corp. of Michigan is suing the Love Thy Neighbor Fund Inc. of Florida for trademark infringement, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Quote of the Week: Composer L. Russell Brown, who co-wrote the dreaded ‘‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,’’ had this to say about a new dance version of his song inspired by the American spy plane crew’s ordeal in China: ‘‘Every time there’s a hostage situation, I make money.’’

Great Moments in Secret Service History: During the 1982 White House Easter egg roll, the Secret Service agent standing next to Ronald Reagan was dressed as the Easter Bunny.

Alarming Trends Bureau: Texas barber Bill Black, who sells fertilizer made from human hair and who once tried to create the world’s largest hair ball, has announced plans to write a cookbook full of hairy recipes, such as pizza that uses powdered human hair instead of flour.

This could be a boon for restaurants: ‘‘Waiter, there’s a hair in my soup!’’ Answer: Yes, that’s intentional.

And no doubt there will soon be knockoff recipes made from toupees.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Space Aliens Stealing Souvenir Ashtrays From Restaurants!’’ (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate