I had a friend one time who insisted against all evidence to the contrary that the Rolling Stone’s ballad “Angie” was in fact called “I Inject.”
Or the other friend who thought that “Dreamweaver” was “Train From Way Back.”
You might think I need some new friends.
Except I’ve done it, too.
So here are my top five bloopers when it comes to getting rock lyrics — and even bands — all wrong.
5. “Yellow” in concert. As a freshman in high school, I was just beginning to listen to the radio and keep track of what was going on in the music world. One day, a friend told me that he was going to the “Yellow” concert that night. I played along like I knew what he was talking about. The day after, I even asked him how “Yellow” had performed, still acting the part of a rock aficianado who knew all about this banana-colored band. Only when he told me some of the songs that “Yellow” sang the night before did I realize he was saying “ELO” — the Electic Light Orchestra. Here’s “Yellow’s” top tune:
4. Livin’ Lovin’ Maid by Led Zeppelin. I’ve been listening to this song since Led Zeppelin II was the third cassette tape I ever bought back in 1977. All along I thought it said, “and the butler and the maid and their servants three.” Wrong. It’s “the butler and the maid and their servantry.”
3. Kodachrome by Paul Simon. Released when I was 11, this was my “first” all-time favorite song. The problem was that I had the name all wrong: I called it Portachrome until my friend Johnny Scanlon corrected, rebuked, and ridiculed me for missing it so badly. Since I didn’t even know what a kodachrome was, how would I know that a porachrome didn’t even exist?
2. Hotel California by the Eagles. There is a good chance that I’ve listened to this song more than any other in my lifetime. But the opening paragraph confused me for the longest time: I thought it said “once fell a dolitas rising up through the air.” I didn’t know what a “dolitas” was nor how they “fell.” Then I found out that Don Henley was actually singing “warm smell of colitas rising up through the air.”
1. You’re So Vain by Carly Simon. This ode to Mick Jagger is full of misheard lyrics. “Grounds” in my coffee instead of “clouds” in my coffee comes to mind. Yet my mis-hearing cut right to the heart of the song. I was convinced Carly was singing “You’re so vague.” Jagger’s backing vocals make the song especially brilliant, vague or not.