Lyrical Interlude

lady with pink guitar in the The Loop

The year is 1986. I’m walking through the mall with one of my favorite cousins. A Sade song pipes into the common space.

“No need to ask cause it’s cool for Loretta,” my cousin sings at the top of her lungs. “Coooool for Lorettaaaaa!”

The year is 1992. I’m sardined into a friend’s late-80s Honda Accord.

There are four of us girls in the car and at least half of my friend’s earthly belongings. Honda makes a sweet second closet.

We’re listening to a classic rock station. “Come on, baby,” my friend sings at the top of her lungs. “Don’t feel the rebirth!”

The year is 2011. A couple weeks ago to be exact. Life in the Fast Lane by the Eagles plays on the truck radio. I’ve only heard this song 6,500 times. The first time when I was maybe eight.

off broadway at Vintage Vinyl

Some of the older kids at the pool where we hung out were obsessed with the song. They played it repeatedly over the loudspeaker, dropping quarter after quarter, alternating between the jukebox and the foosball table.

We younger ones staked out our spots at the corners of the foosball table, our chins hovering just above the surface to watch the games.

Swack! Block. Zip! Slide. Za-ping! And goal. Life in the fast lane. Surely make you lose your mind.

What a great song, I thought as I sang alone in the truck at the top of my lungs. Think I’ll post a line on Facebook.

“They had one thing in common, they were good and bad.”

Reveled in my coolness until a few hours later when a friend (or two) informed me those were not the words. I Googled it to be sure. Gasp. I’d been singing it wrong for more than 30 years.

In my mind, I’d camped on what one friend termed moral dualism, the conflict between good and evil that rages in the world and inside us. All the while the Eagles had something else in mind. Something more Hotel California.

Blueberry Hill

Musicians would do well to enunciate. Or sing cleaner lyrics. Ones that make sense to people who aren’t cocaine dealers.

Cool for Loretta instead of Smooth Operator? Maybe.

Don’t Feel the Rebirth rather than Don’t Fear the Reaper? Absolutely not. Rebirth sounds too much like afterbirth. Ew. Needs more cowbell.

Life in the Fast Lane? The Eagles’ lyrics work in the context of the song’s story. Drug addiction, outrageous parties, nasty reputations as cruel dudes.

But in the context of real life, where most of us reside, my line is miles better.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15 NIV

Go Cards!

Exit the fast lane for Seven Bridges Road. Watch for shots from Busch Stadium along the way in the video link.

What’s your favorite lyrical mishap?
Come on. Share a bit!

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47 Responses to Lyrical Interlude

  1. Krista

    I’ll fess up – “Raunchy like a hurricane!” Clint informed me that it was “Rock me like a hurricane” many years later.
    I’m telling on my father in law now, for the longest he thought it was “Every girl’s crazy bout a short fat man” instead of “sharp dressed man.” That’s awesome!

  2. Jennifer Ballard Squires

    Not a lyrical mishap, but words of wisdom from my then 3 year old relating to a song. While riding with her cool aunt, the Rolling Stones were blasting away. At the end of the song, my daughter turns to her and says, “That man’s not right. Sometimes you can get what you want.” Out of the mouths of babes!

    PS Hi, Aimee! Found your blog through a Facebook Friend from Phi Mu and I have been loving it. Go Tarheels!

  3. Alicia Norton

    My sister, Shields, thought that Charlie Daniels sang “Granny does your dog bite like an old chow I know?” Instead of “Granny does your dog bite no, child no” in Devil Went Down to Georgia. I, of course, have never made such a mistake.

  4. cyberanna

    When I was 14 there were these great Maxell commercials on tv. Reading this reminded me of them and prompted me to seek them out.
    (Hooray for youtube.)
    I still have no idea what the correct lyrics are.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Now I can go share my find with friends from that year. (Hooray for Facebook.)

  5. When I was a kid I took down my dad’s old vinyl records and played Hotel California again and again and again until I knew every word. I also learned all the words to You Shook Me All Night Long and Life’s Been Good to Me. I’m not really sure why my parents let me do that, but those songs are still some of my favorites. Good music is good music. But I never could figure out all the words to “Down on the Corner.” “Early in the evenin’, just about supper time / Over by the courthouse they’re startin’ to unwind / Walk-ins on the corner, something something up….. ????” Is pretty much how it goes in my book. Great post, thanks!

    • Yeah, Down on the Corner is a tough one. Come to think of it, I don’t know the lyrics past the word “unwind” either!

      And I’m glad you mentioned learning your parents’ vinyl. Me too, except my parents’ vinyl consisted of 45s of the Beach Boys and Lesley Gore (It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To), plus three albums: Andy Williams Christmas, Andrae Crouch gospel, and Evie. Girl, I feel a post coming on. Thanks for reading and for the inspiration!

  6. Until I was in college I sang, “The milk is sitting. The milk is sitting on rooooock and roll. Milk is sitting. The milk is sitting on rock and roll.”. No, it didn’t make sense, but it’s all I heard. My college roommate almost died laughing when she heard me sing it.

    To be honest, I still prefer to sing it that way. :)

  7. Kristin

    Hi, Aimee! I have quite a few of these, but I’ll share just one: It must have been only in the past few years when someone finally informed that the lyrics to Boys of Summer were NOT sung, “After the poison, summer has gone”. My version makes no sense, but I still can’t hear that song and sing it the correct way.
    By the way, my sister used to sing it, “Bikes in the fast lane”. You are correct, musicians would do well to enunciate!

    Also, I love your blog!

    • Thanks, Kristin! Love the poison of summer and the bikes in the fast lane. Don Henley is the worst for slurring his words while singing, isn’t he? And once you get it in your brain the wrong way, it’s really hard to correct. If it wasn’t for the backbeat, that man liked to never have a hit song…

  8. rebecca gill

    Hilarious…almost brought up Sade a few weeks ago when you posted about song lyrics. As far Life in the Fast Lane, I also thought you were using the PG lyrics or making a point about humanity…either way, I agree your version is better. Keep singing!!!

  9. Cheryl

    My step son and I were listening to the BeeGees one day on the way to school; he was about 6 years old. Out of the back seat, I heard him belt: “Bald headed woman. Bald headed woman to me.” I didn’t tell tell him it’s really “More Than a Woman” for a long time…it was just too darn cute.

    BTW, have you seen the new VW commercial that uses misunderstood lyrics as its concept? Very clever:

  10. Suzie


    So we had a few in our family… I can’t remember all of them, nor any of my own (conveniently), but my eldest sister thought that ABC’s “Shoot That Poison Arrow” was saying “She’s got boys in her room, Ahhhhhhhhhh.” :D And my middle sis had the best one… another Eagle’s tune – “You can’t hiiiiiiiiide you’re like an ox!” :D

    • I’m with your eldest sister: I’d rather have boys in my room than a poison arrow in my heart any day.
      And I can hardly type bc I’m laughing to the point of tears over your middle sister’s translation. What’s with the Eagles anyway?! No, if you’re like an ox, you definitely can’t hide!

  11. Joy

    Bahahaha! This is so funny, and I must say that I think I’ve passed this trait on to my daughter. She does it ALL the time. The most recent of hers isn’t a song but she took off a shoe and sand went all over the floor. She looked at the mess and exclaimed, “I got bamba!”. (eye caramba).
    My best lyrical mess up is: big ole jet airliner and I would always sing it as, “we go down with the lights on. Grrreat post! Thanks Aimee!

    • We go down with the lights on, huh? Maybe it’s something about the bands of that era. Too funny! Hope you caught the cowbell link. I had linked to the full version of the skit, but NBC made YouTube take it down last night. So we got the abbreviated clip. In any case, Will Ferrell slays me.

      • Joy

        Oh man, I finally watched the cow bell… I was seriously laughing so hard that the family became concerned that I was slightly insane. Niiice Will F. is so hilarious, I’m laughing right now just thinking of his crazy hips…

        • The belly is what gets me. My husband told me he saw an interview with the cast. They said the skit was not working at all during rehearsals the week prior to the show. They feared the skit was going to bomb. But when Will F. showed up in that outfit for the show Saturday, they knew it was golden!

  12. Christel Oliphant

    Well, this one is about a good friend. Lets call her Kelly ( since that is her real name, LOL ! ) The setting : Big Bondfire. The Song : ” I’ve got friends in low places” – Garth Brooks. Correct Lyrics : Now I’m not big on social graces, Think I’ll slip on down to the oasis…Oh I’ve got friends in low places.
    Kelly ( singing to the top of her lungs) Now I’m not big on SAUSAGE GRAVY, think I’ll slip on down to the oasis…Oh I’ve got friends in low places! And I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life ! Good Times!

  13. Lesa Bauer

    Aimee, what a great, FUN post today!!! One of my fave’s – late 80’s Annie Lennox – line was “Walkin’ on broken backs!”….oh, wait, was supposed to be ‘broken glass’…

    Another fun one was a friend’s son 20 years ago when he was five or six or so singing Christmas carols and got to ‘Gloria in Excelsis De-o’ of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and thought all were singing ‘and Chelsea stay home.’ He couldn’t figure out why everyone was trying to sing a good family friend’s daughter needed to ‘stay home.’

    Yep! Out of the mouths of those babes!!! :-)

    Again, GREAT, FUN post today!!! Thanks for the smiles and giggles!


  14. Congrats Aimee on your 100th post!

  15. Cyndi

    In our family we refer to this as “Lyricosis”. My sister in law suffers the worst. I’ll have to ask Dave to get my a list of faves. My recent Lyricosis giggle came from my 7-year old. She was singing and thrashing around the house, combat style, but I couldn’t hear what she was singing. When I asked what she was singing, she sang back at me, “I got the moves like a dragon, I got the moves like a dragon!” (aka Got the Moves like Jagger by Maroon 5). I’m still laughing!

  16. Brant

    How about that Johnny Rivers classic, “Secret Asian Man”.

  17. My wife can attest to the fact that I’m horrible at remembering the lyrics to songs beyond the first or second line, and even then often botch them up. I’ve been doing it for years. I cannot recall any songs off hand except a really bad one by ZZ Top, which is bad no matter which way you mess it up/re-do it.

    So, I play off the fact that I’m horrible at hearing/remembering lines of songs and either parody them or pretend to parody them. My kids get a kick out of it and my wife finds it cute with attendant groans and eye rolls.

    On poor enunciation, I recall choir class when I was a kid. Our teacher made a point of of enunciating, except I found it sounded worse and didn’t make the song flow as well – which would explain why many musicians take artistic license with words.

    And, lastly, because I’m that kind of person, I found out that there is a term for misunderstanding and saying lyrics incorrectly: mondegreens!

  18. I can’t remember one right now, but I make them ALL the time. I am constantly driving and singing and most of my friends make fun of me. A lot. Mostly because howling dogs sound better than what I can sing. :) Also because I look really funny driving down the road and singing to myself. Love the post :)

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  20. And I finally have the computer back up to respond…! :) For me, Sade always sounded like “Smooth Umbrella”… And I never even questioned that – since my dad has been into 70’s space rock and 80’s electronica, stuff that doesn’t make sense was part of my life!
    My other one was the Earth Band – Blinded by the Night. I mean, hey, at night it’s dark, and you’re blind, right….?
    Loved the post!

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