20 June 2010

Say what?

So, I have this thing I do when I'm running. You know, to distract myself from the horribleness of the running. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I mostly enjoy running, it's just that sometimes I need a little distraction from the actual doing of it. From the putting one foot in front of the other, the oh-jesus-am-I-really-only-halfway-done aspects of it.

Anyway, like most people, I listen to music while running, and I’ve started to notice that with nothing else to focus on while running, I pay more attention to the lyrics of whatever song happens to pop up on the iPod. I mean, usually when I'm listening to music, I'm also doing something else—driving, reading, cleaning, typing, general multitasking, what have you. But when I'm running, I'm pretty much just listening. As a result, I've begun to discover a number of differences between what up until this moment I thought the lyrics were, and what I have now actually discovered the lyrics to be. And I thought I would pass along some of these discoveries as I stumble upon them.

[An aside: I've discovered that this phenomenon is called a mondegreen, which is "the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song, due to near homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning." Excellent word.]

I'll start with a little ditty by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I select them due to the fact that they are the purveyors of the classic misunderstood lyric “there's a bathroom on the right” (or bad moon on the rise, if you're looking for accuracy.) Anyway, I was listening to “Lookin' Out My Back Door” (which is an excellently paced song for running, if you are interested) and there is a line which I have now determine to be “tambourines and elephants are playing in the band” which I misunderstood a variety a ways. (And I preface this by saying that even the correct line it itself makes little sense. Songs are like movies and such, and you have to be down with the allusion and metaphor and suspension of disbelief and such. So, you know, there's an elephant playing in the band, deal with it.)

I had previously always thought this line to be “memories and elephants,” which made sense in my brain, since elephants are alleged to have excellent memories. I also thought it might be “Anne Marie's an elephant” which could either refer to an actual elephant named Anne Marie, or perhaps metaphorically to a girl named Anne Marie who was perhaps a bit on the large or unattractive side (although that would take the song into a meaner direction that the rest of the happy lyrics would indicate). Anyway, I maintain that my interpretations make at least as much sense as the actual words, but it's nice to know the correct words as well.