The year was 19 something or other.  I was a teenager, sitting on a diving board over my best friend’s pool and singing along to some tunes playing from her boom box (“boom box” might narrow down the year).

“Um, what are you singing?”  my BF asked from her floating lounge chair.

“The song.” (I’m missing a Duh here, but I’m trying to maintain the historical accuracy.)

She opened her eyes and looked at me. “Let me hear it again.”

I shrugged, waited for the chorus and then sang, “Ew ba ba leeba.  Ewwww, ba ba leeba!”

I continued belting out a few more ba leeba’s even though my BF was laughing at me.  You see the actual lyric is “Smooth operator, smooooth operator.”   (You’re now one Google away from the year).

Anyway, that was the moment that I realized I am terrible with deciphering lyrics, and of course it didn’t end with the “ew ba ba leebas.”  I’ve been screwing up lyrics for decades.  Just a couple of months ago I found myself asking my teenage son about a song on the radio.  I’d been singing it for a couple of weeks and wanted to know what the artist meant by, “I used to ball on my chicks.”

My son looked at me like I’d just farted.  In front of his friends.  And then he put his iPod headphones back into his ears.

Well I thought it was an honest question, because I can’t always be up on this generation’s vocabulary, right?

Wrong.

Turns out that lyric has nothing to do with balls or chicks.  It’s “I used up all of my tricks.”   Oh and the song title?  “Cooler than me.”

Cooler than me denim _opt

Here I am singing, completely clueless to the lyrics and the effect of denim on denim.

Maybe I screw up the lyrics, because I love to write fiction–I’m more prone to making stuff up.  I don’t know, but I do know that words are pretty important to me.  Maybe the words are rebelling against me because of all the manipulating I put them through.

That would explain why I sometimes have trouble coming up with a word.  Here’s me in the middle of a conversation at dinner last night:  “What’s the word?  It means looking up to something or holding it in high regard?”

“Envy?”  A dear and very patient member of my family asked.

“No, it’s something positive . . . VALUE!  Yes, value, that’s what I was trying to say.”

Did I  mention I once screwed up the words to Smash Mouth’s All Star?  It was the line about not being the sharpest tool in the shed.

But I’m not alone.

You can check out an entire archive of misheard lyrics here at Kiss this Guy.

Here are just a few:

Abba’s Dancing Queen:  “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen.”

Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n Roll:  “I love rock and roll, put another dime in the juice box baby.”

John Newton’s Amazing Grace:  “That saved a wench like me.”

Yikes.

But my all time favorite is from We Wish You a Merry Christmas:  “Now bring us some friggin’ pudding.”

And it’s even funnier with visuals.

 

Do words ever fail you?

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42 thoughts on “When Words Fail, Eat More Friggin’ Pudding

  1. Susanna Hill

    OMG! Thanks for the laugh! I can only imagine your son’s face! I too wore denim on denim and have pictures to prove it 🙂 I love the friggin pudding! And the best lyric mistake I ever heard was a radio DJ who played a request and said, “I think this is the song you meant when you requested I’ll Never Leave Your Pizza Burning” – he played Beast of Burden by the Rolling Stones 🙂

  2. Shannon Esposito

    OMG! I just spit coffee all over my monitor! *composing myself* I say this all the time…”what’s that word??” to the point where people say “aren’t you a..er..writer?”
    I’m fine if i’m just thinking about the word and typing it out BUT I’ve noticed a disconnect in my brain when I actually have to say the word out loud. It’s sooo wierd! Thanks for the laugh this morning 🙂 I am definitely not cooler than you!

  3. Catherine Johnson

    Too funny! What an awesome post, I can so relate. It brings back memories of singing full blast on the dance floor to the Relax song long before I knew how rude the lyrics were. Bless you!

  4. Liz Schulte

    Ahahahaha love it. There is a Metallica song that says “until it sleeps” that I was pretty certain was saying Tennessee for a long time. I love the friggin’ pudding. 🙂

  5. August McLaughlin

    Ha!!! LOVE this post, Coleen. Hilarious to the nth degree…

    A friend of mine kept a list of my mis-quoted lyrics during high school. The list was LONG, but a few I remember:

    “Little Rent-co vac…” (“Little red corvette…”)

    “Gingivitis, dance on air…” (“Ginger Rogers, dance on air” – Vogue)

    “These jeans go on when I close my eyes…” (“These dreams…” I don’t know the rest! LOL)
    August McLaughlin recently posted..Naughty & Nice: Confessions of a Relative Goody-GoodyMy Profile

  6. Tim L O'Brien

    Your son’s reaction is priceless! I have always gotten lyrics wrong as well, maybe it’s our way of editing a songwriter and inserting our own words (which are always better) into the song. By the way I clicked on the Kiss This Guy link and finally found out the real words to Manfred Mann’s song Blinded By The Light. After all these years I finally solved the words that have been bugging me since the first time I heard the song.

  7. Melinda

    LOL thanks for the giggle! There’s a commercial with people getting song lyrics wrong…wish I could remember what it was. I just remember thinking I didn’t know the real lyrics either and I had to go google them lol.

  8. Emma Burcart

    That was hilarious! I love the description of your son’s reaction. So perfect for teenagers. I think I’ve seen my little brother do that same look.
    One of my favorite lines is the one that everyone sings from that old song, “wrapped up like a douche in the night.” I don’t know the name or who sings it, but I remember that line.
    I also have a friend who’s favorite song as a little girl was, “Hold me close, Tony Danza.” She was also a fan of Who’s the Boss?

  9. Amanda

    Those misheard lyrics gave me a good laugh! I’m horrible with lyrics too, so I could relate. There is one song I used to sing wrong every time it came on the radio in the car. My sister would always laugh and tell me I was wrong but I insisted I was right.
    The song was I’ll Be by Edwin McCain. I sang, “I’ll be, your crying soda.” The real lyrics are “I’ll be your crying shoulder.” HAHHA!

    Fun post! =)

  10. Mel Fowler

    Oh my heck this is so funny. I just couldnt stop laughing. I mess up lyrics sometimes but never to bad. Aw man I love this, I will never think of these songs the same again!!!

  11. Karen McFarland

    Oh Coleen, how funny! I love it. I think we’ve all done this one time or another.

    Cool idea. And uh, would the singer you were refering to be Sade? Smooth Operator.

    I am so sorry, but my brain is freezing up on me right now Coleen. But I know that I am as guilty as anybody for doing this. 🙂
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Terminal MinesMy Profile

  12. Fabio Bueno

    The post is fabulous and the comments are great too. I’m still laughing. I remember a movie (maybe “Dazed and Confused”?) where a guy sings “I wanna rock’n’roll and part of every day”.
    Anyway, I do it all the time. And I’m guilty of denim on denim too, but there’s no photographic evicence.
    Thanks, Coleen!

  13. Patricia

    Wait – what’s wrong with “bring us some friggin’ pudding?” Those aren’t the words?

    I used to perform in a lot of community theater musicals and was often quite surprised when I was learning my songs from sheet music, especially songs I thought I knew, just exactly what the real words are. I’d heard the songs on my Broadway cds and would sing along, but when I looked at the sheet music, well, let’s just say I wasn’t singing the right things sometimes. In fact, “Phantom of the Opera” has an entirely different verse for lots of their songs than what you hear on the recordings. The guess the writers do that on purpose (according to my husband who is a musical theater major). So songs you think you know, maybe you don’t when you’re portraying those characters live on stage. Having good diction helps. A lot of pop singers have very bad diction.

    And, I’ve gotta hand it to you girl, not many folks would post their own photos from those by-gone eras. Thanks for sharing them. It reminds me of another young woman, one of the 70’s. Yikes. Scary stuff. But enough about me.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  14. inluvwithwords

    I knew just what song you were talking about when you said “I used to ball on my chicks,” because for the longest time I thought he was saying “I used a ball of my tricks.” Even when I figured out the real lyrics, it was hard to get the wrong ones out of my head.

    I often get lyrics wrong, but no one ever knows, because I can’t carry a tune, so I never sing out loud. Yep, all my lyrics flubs happen in the privacy of my own mind.
    inluvwithwords recently posted..FreightMy Profile

  15. Wendy Terrien

    LOL!! Thanks so much for the laugh. But I must ask, are you sure you would really want to know what “I used to ball on my chicks” meant (if those had been the actual lyrics, of course)? 🙂

    I knew a guy in college who used to sing “how’s about a date” to Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face.” Still cracks me up!

  16. TL Conway

    I agree with Sophia–the denim on denim combo is amazing in a “Oh, no, she didn’t” kind of way. And for the record, my boom box still works. It’s my source of music in my writing room!

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  18. Louise Behiel

    OMG spewing all over things here. I do both of those – mess up the lyrics and forget words in the middle of a sentence. I know the first is my normal but the second I attributed to age and memory. now I have an excuse. My mother is so musical it’s scary. she can play almost any instrument outside of the horn family and if she hears a song once, she knows the words. and then there’s me – the perpetual thorn in her side.

    thanks for the giggle

  19. Lynn Kelley

    This is sooooooo funny, Coleen, and I can totally relate. I’m so bad at getting lyrics right. It’s so nice to know there are others out there. For “I Want a New Drug,” my husband still cracks up because I sang, “I want a new truck.” That’s just one of many. And the worst part is, even after someone corrects me and I hear the song again, I still get it wrong. And drawing a blank on a certain word, that drives me crazy because it happens so often. I do the same thing, asking my husband what the word is that means whatever. It sure can slow me down when I’m trying to get a lot of writing done! Nice post!

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  21. Tameri Etherton

    Sooo, that denim on denim look? So hot! I think you should totally bring it back. ; )

    Once, when Bare Naked Ladies’ song, “One Week” first came out, my husband and I had a heated debate about a certain line. I could have sworn it said, “Keanu makes films” (as in, Keanu Reeves, who totally DOES make films!) and my husband argued that my line made absolutely no sense with the preceding line, “Like Kurasawa I make mad films”, and the following line, “But if I did they’d have a Samurai”. Um, okay, that’s a good point. But it didn’t stop me from arguing with him all the way home. I promptly called my BF Steve, who just happens to be a DJ on the radio, and asked him what the line really says.

    His response? That I’m an idiot. The line is really, “Okay I don’t make films”.

    Logic! Who uses logic when it comes to song lyrics? Ugh. That line sort of lives in infamy at my house. It’s dragged out at holiday events, quiet dinners with a sophisticated couple, playdates with my kids’ friends.

  22. clarbojahn

    I thought I had a funny post on my “Diary of a Spider” post but this post sure beats a kids picture book. And the winner is you! Great post! Thanks for making me smile~ again.

    Also thanks for *Liking* my post. 🙂

  23. Melinda

    Too funny! When they came out with the Rocket Man commercial I had to go look up what the lyrics actually were. Pretty sure I’d sang all the ones they used in the commercial without ever knowing the actual words. never in my wildest dreams would I have arrived at “burning out his fuse up here alone”. Nope.

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