There’s a kick-in-the-pants sequence in Luca Guadagnino‘s A Bigger Splash that uses the Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue.” Sing it, feel it…infectious. But it brought back a misheard-lyrics issue from way back. Go online and the song ostensibly begins as follows:
“Is there nothing I can say, nothing I can do?
Change your mind. I’m so in love with you.
You’re too deep in, you can’t get out.
You’re just a poor girl in a rich man’s house.”
I’ve never heard “too deep in.” Idiotic as it sounds, I’ve always heard “bootie bear.” Here’s how the opening stanza sounds to my ears:
“Is there nuttin’ I can say, nuttin’ I can do?
Change yo’ mind. Ahm so in love wit you.
Bootie bear, yuh can’t get out.
You’re just a poor girl…rich man’s house.”
All these years I’ve told myself that “bootie bear” was a romantic nickname that the guy had given the girl in question. People do this. A girlfriend from the mid ’80s used to call me “huggie bear” so it’s not that crazy.
From an August 2011 post called “Surreal Song Lyrics“:
I’ve misheard song lyrics all my life, and over time those wrong lyrics have sunk into my system and become frozen in amber, and now I can’t hear the correct lyrics to save my life. Most of the mis-heard lyrics were absorbed when I was a kid or a teenager, for the most part. I know it sounds silly but these idiotic re-wordings have stayed in my head.
Example #1: “All Shook Up,” Elvis Presley. All my life I’ve been hearing “I’m itchin’ like a man on a buzzin’ tree” and “mah friends say I’m actin’ wide as a bug.” The correct lyrics are “I’m itching like a man on a fuzzy tree” and “my friends say I’m actin wild as a bug.” Except Presley doesn’t say “wild” in that song. Wild is a two-syllable word that Presley just flat-out doesn’t pronounce — he says “wide.” Yes, an idiotic interpretation. How exactly does a bug act when he’s “wide”? (Or “narrow” for that matter?) But there’s nothing crazy about itching as a result of being in the vicinity of a “buzzing” tree. The tree could be buzzing with mosquitoes or flies or gnats and you could feel itchy from that proximity.
Example #2: “(The Love I Saw In You Was) Just A Mirage,” Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. The song goes “We used to meet in romantic places / You gave the illusion that your love was real / Now all that’s left are lipstick traces / From the kisses you only pretended to feel.” My lifelong problem is that I never heard “are lipstick traces” — I heard “I miss Dick Tracy.” Now listen to these lyrics the Jeffrey Wells way, and you’ll understand why my life has turned out the way it has: “”We used to meet in romantic places / You gave the illusion that your love was real / Now all that’s left I miss Dick Tracy / From the kisses you only pretended to feel.”
Example #3: “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story, written by Stephen Sondheim & sung by Richard Beymer in the 1961 film. The guy who sang on Beymer’s behalf slightly misrepesented the lyrics when he sang “With a click / With a shock / Phone’ll jingle / Door’ll knock / Open the latch!” It’s not my fault but the singer’s that all my life I’ve been hearing “phono jingo / dorro knock!” I know for a fact that almost all singers deliberately de-emphasize the “ell” sound in songs because they’re hard to musically enunciate in a way that sounds “right.”
Example 4: I was standing in a checkout line at Staples last week, and the p.a. system was playing Manfred Mann‘s “Doo-wah-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-doo.” I know that the chorus goes “now I’m hers, she’s mine…I’m hers, she’s mine, wedding bells are gonna chime.” But all my life I’ve heard the following: “Now I’m hurt, she’s mad…I’m hurt, she’s mad, wedding bells are gonna chime.” Yes, obviously, I know…why would there be wedding bells if he’s hurt and she’s mad? It’s the singer’s fault. He can’t say the word “hers” and sound rock-and-roll guttural so he pronounced it as “hurt.” And it sounds dorky to sing “miiyeen” so he decided to pronounce it as “mahhnn” and it came it like “mad.” So don’t blame me.
Example 5: And speaking of Manfred Mann, what about “Blinded By The Light” and the misheard line “wrapped up like a douche“…which is precisely what I’ve been hearing all my life. So these guys are repeat offenders.