Wednesday, April 21, 2004

It's Not The Side-Effects Of Her Cooking . . .

My love for songs has focused more on the words of songs and not the music of songs. I'm a word person who can't play any instrument. (I can't even tap my hands or feet to keep time to a song.)

There are many modern instrumental releases I like, even though I prefer lyrics. The first instrumental record I owned was probably "Wipeout" and then began an odd fascination with the songs of The Ventures. My first Ventures LP was an orange gatefold package with a picture of a blonde girl in a striped bikini. Although my first exposure to instrumental songs was in the surf-music genre, I never took much to surf songs. There are few genres with lyrics as insipid as that of Southern California surfer-boy songs.

Focusing more on the words of songs rather than the overall sound of songs has led me to a fan of singers as diverse as Karen Carpenter and David Bowie (though some might say that is not a big leap) and songwriters generations apart like Rodgers & Hart and Holland, Dozier & Holland.

I like songs that tell stories, which means I generally like songs with lots of words. I think David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen write these kinds of songs much better than anyone else of their generation. Long songs with storylines and plots and themes and music that changes dramatically within five or six or ten minutes.

I was surprised to learn that The Beatles' "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" LP was the first album to include a lyric sheet! Prior to that, you bought a copy of the sheet music if you were unable to discern the words to your favorite new song. In the sixties, I started buying magazines that re-printed the lyrics to all the top hits of the day (they were not always accurate). I have been scorned for not knowing the correct words to a song. It is most embarrassing when I mistake the lyrics of an artist whose work I know and adore.

In 1977, I was sitting at a garden cafe on Castro Street in San Francisco with a bunch of other teenagers and twenty-somethings, singing along to the music playing over the loudspeakers. The sun was shining, the double lattes were flowing, the reefer was passed about, and suddenly David Bowie's "Station To Station" began playing. We all knew all the words and we sang along . . . and then it happened . . . everyone was holding their coffee cups in the air singing: "Drink, drink, drain your glass, raise your glass high . . . " The rhythm of the music changed for the next line and everyone sang "It's not the side-effects of the cocaine . . . "

Except me! I sang "It's not the side-effects of her cooking . . . "

Everyone first went silent and then burst out laughing about my gaffe.

I had been singing this song incorrectly for the two years I had known it! Sometimes when singing along to the song while alone at home, I still make the same mistake.

Please post what lyrics you have misheard!


A great website about misheard lyrics is Kiss This Guy

Here are the lyrics to "Station To Station" at the Teenage Wildlife site