Saturday, January 27, 2007

Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy


Moving on...

I sing in my car. And I sing poorly. I also sing lyrics abominably. I either sing them wrong, or when I don't remember them, it's either.."Da, da, da, da,...." or "ah....ah...yeah..."

I don't know how many years I went singing Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" with the lyric..."Excuse me, while I kiss this guy!" Yeah, I got a lot of strange looks. As for the Rolling Stones, well, anything sung by Mick is by nature hard to understand. Think about "Jumping Jack Flash". I remember playing that over and over and over....until I finally had something that would pass as the correct lyrics, but probably weren't. Go ahead, listen to the tune and you tell me.

I remember in high school listening to ZZ Tops' song: "La Grange". Oh God. We loved the guitar riffs, but as for the lyrics...whenever it came on, we smiled knowingly and said: "Oh, the Incoherent Song."

It's always been hard to understand some lyrics in rock. Too bad it's not hard to understand lyrics in rap. I always seem to understand those too well. But putting aside my old fogginess, here are some bands that seem impossible to decipher without repeated listening: Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Motorhead, etc. And I know some smart ass out there will suggest: just go online and look up lyrics.

Recently my wife's brother had me put a disc into my cd player. It was nothing but incoherent screaming. Seriously. The singer snarled in monotone, stretching the words out so that they were not understandable. His voice was razor blades. If he wasn't screaming slowly, then he was screaming and ripping through a lyric so that God himself was crying.

"He sounds different in this song," her brother said. "I think he's changed his style. I like his old stuff better."

"How can you tell?" I asked. Seriously, it was just raw, hideous screaming. Behind him the guitars roared without any sense of melody or pattern...and the drums...? Now I like hard music, but this wasn't

"I'll grant you sometimes he's hard to understand, but..."

Hard to understand? Metallica can be hard to understand (although not really), Nirvana and Foo Fighters were occasionally hard to understand, but industrial music...?

Of course the ultimately misunderstood song has to be "Louie, Louie" as slurred by the Kingsmen.

All this being said: Here are some of the most misunderstood lyrics in music. I went to this site and looked them up. http://www.kissthisguy.com/ It felt good to see I wasn't alone in my confusion over Purple Haze. Check it out, you'll be amused.

18 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm not good at deciphering lyrics either, but I think it's just as well since most of them suck. I really don't mind when singers in heavy metal scream because it keeps me from understanding the stupidity of their lyrics and yet I can still enjoy the music. With other forms of music I actually have to listen to the lyrics, and sometimes it's more than I can bear.

Susan Miller said...

I, like you, just make up my own lyrics when necessary. Music is for the soul, I think...it fires me up, makes me cry, causes me to dance..it inspires me.

Thanks for the link.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You know, I always thought I was the only one on earth who could not understand the lyrics to rock songs, with the exception of people like James Taylor and Jackson Browne. I can remember tunes after one hearing, but trying to decipher the words is quite frustrating.

Most heavy metal does nothing for me, and rap is tiresome scold music. I prefer blues, old rock, jazz and chamber music.

My attempts to write "popular" songs as a kid fizzled because I couldn't bring myself to be ungrammatical, especially concerning the obligatory double negatives. Pretty sad, huh?

Lucas Pederson said...

I personally enjoy listening to Metallica. Their music is heavy, yet has that harmonic balance I love. And I can always understand the singer. I can hear him, understand his lyrics, and I can pretty much feel what he's trying to convey. And isn't that what most music is all about anyway? Feeling? It's an art, like writing. And art is inspired by feelings. Music, no matter if it's heavy metal, classic rock, jazz or yes, even rap (although most rap drives me bonkers), all comes down to feelings and emotions and life in general. Think about it. When we're in a happy go lucky mood, we want to listen to happy go lucky music, when we're angry, confused or sad, we listen to music that conveys those emotions. So maybe it's not always about the lyrics, but the mood, the feelings. Metallica is my chosen band for most of these feelings.

jedimerc said...

About the only heavy metal I listen to is Metallica because I can understand their lyrics, though I am always amused by the butchered and misunderstood song lyrics :)

Donnetta Lee said...

Hey, I used to sing Garth Brooks songs with mangled lyrics just to annoy my son! (Remember, I'm in Oklahoma!) Must have been the mean streak in me. Donnetta

Stewart Sternberg said...

I'm with you Charles. I've always been attracted to the more literate among the lyricists. Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, etc. If I can't understand a song's lyric, I always think they're trying to hide something from me.

Sue, music is for the soul. I wonder what function rap serves.

Hearts, I don't know what to say other than, I would invite you to a party any day, and then let you choose the evening's musical rotation.

jedi,Lucas,I love metallica.

Donetta, here's a nod from one school teacher to another. I don't usually listen to country, but I'm way more tolerant of it than I was in my youth. Come to think of it, I'm far more tolerant of everything than I was in my youth.

Donnetta Lee said...

Actually, I'm more tolerant of everything than I used to be...I only listen to a little country. Mostly like the "lyrical" music as well. Still love the BeeGees. Do enjoy the Eagles, Faith Hill. Guess that sounds a little country! I will listen to any music though. Saw the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas before last. Loved that. Love Sara McLachlan. Not much except really hard rock that I don't like. Donnetta

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

For years I thought there was a "Round Young Virgin, comma, Mother and Child" in "Silent Night", adding a fourth person to the Trinity.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Round Young Virgin...sweet music.

Chuck Zaglanis said...

My favorite band is Slayer. While I don't always understand what the singer is screaming (but you'd be suprised how easy it gets to figure out after listening to it for...what?...25 years)the music as a whole serves as a release-a catharsis if you will-for all my pent up anger. I may be too old and fat to slam around in a mosh pit anymore but I still use music to siphon off my desire to snatch a mother f... a person up in a bear trap and choke 'um.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I understand Slayer's coming out with a Christmas cd next year. I understand they have an awesome version of "Drummer Boy"

Danny Tagalog said...

I have to admit that I don't like looking at lyrics at first, and deciphering them myself is best.

But this post made me remember a Number One hit in the UK by a rave act - The Shamen - with Ebeneezer Good, in ther midst of the ecstacy craze in the UK. The name when said fast made plain their attitude towards the drug. Very naughty, very naughty and not clever, eh? No room for misunderstanding either...

Sphinx Ink said...

You mean it's NOT "scuse me while I kiss this guy"?? Sphinx Ink heard that music when it first came out and for decades has thought that was the lyric!

[Later, after checking the kissthisguy.com website...]

Whew, Sphinx Ink was right--at least partly.

Sphinx Ink also remembers hearing "Louie Louie" played constantly during her high school years--she attended a girls' school run by nuns and the students thought themselves very daring to play it in the cafeteria during lunch, because none of the nuns "got" the naughty words all the girls just KNEW were in it.

As for more recent mishearings, Sphinx Ink must admit her tastes in popular music are still back in the seventies...any recordings made after, oh, 1976 or so still seem to her like new groups, because she switched to classical music around that time and stopped listening to Top 40 radio.

As a result, when she occasionally comes across VH-1's shows on the histories of various rock groups, she's amazed to find out how long many of them have been around (Aerosmith, for example).

Her only explanation is that sphinxes are themselves anachronistic.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I'm pretty good at deciphering lyrics. Oh and...

HENDRIX RULES!!!

DonkeyBlog said...

Y'know, Mr Sternberg, I'm not much of a fan of that so-called "death metal", but I'd have to say, they do manage to sound very angry when singing/screaming. As someone interested in writing, I sometimes wonder how powerful it would be to be able to portray that kind of anger in the song, on the written page. It would be wuite a skill to be able to write raw emotion so vividly.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Donkey, you're right, a lot of it is pretty angry music. I can't imagine listening to a steady diet.

I once asked a thugger to tell recite the lyrics of one love song written by a rapper that was rap. Love, not lust. He couldn't do it.

Sphinx, I remember going to a Louie louie parade in Royal Oak Michigan. It was during the summer. Marching bands from all over the states were organized to come and participate. There were even floats.

miller580 said...

I have to say, that it's not to often I mess up the lyrics. (except of course for Louie Louie and I don't think they knew what they were singing). I recently took a road trip from Florida to Michigan and one day before I left, my iPod died. It was all set...all the books and playlists needed for two trips around the world and I had nothing.
I dug out my old custom cd book and took with me 30 custom built audio cd's. Now those that know me, know that if I don't write something down, I forget it as soon as...oh I don't know, a shift in the wind. This drives my wife crazy. Anyway, on this road trip (18 plus hours) I listened to those cd's filled with songs from the late sixties to late 90's and sang (in my completely horrid voice) every song...the scary thing was I was on auto pilot. The words came to me as if they were hard wired. What does that have to do with this post...nothing I guess. I just thought of it while I was reading.