Shannon Stacey

When good lyrics go bad

Don’t you hate when you’ve been singing a song for years and somebody points out to you that you have the lyrics wrong? And no matter what, you’ll never “hear” them right. It’s also possible for that to work in reverse—when somebody else sings it wrong and that’s the only way you hear it from then on.

I was singing along with “Check Yes or No” several years back and, when the Short Kid hassled me about it, I tried to get him to sing along with me. He said he would, but he’d need a blanket language pass. (If it’s necessary in order to tell a story properly, the Short Kid may get a pass to say a bad word one time, with the understanding some of the longer bad words need not apply.)

I was confused. It’s George Strait. How could he possibly need a language pass to sing this:

“Do you love me, do you wanna be my friend?
And if you do
Well then don’t be afraid to take me by the hand
If you want to
I think this is how love goes, check yes or no”

So I gave him a language pass and made him tell me the song.

“I think this is how love goes, jackass or no.”

Sounds like a few romance novel heroes, no? I laughed at him before giving him the correct lyrics, but I’ve never heard the song “correctly” since, and often sing jackass or no when it’s on the radio.

Fast forward to “Stay” from Florida Georgia Line. I love this long, but one line in particular made me cringe…

“And I’d break my bones just to hear your pain.”

This made no sense to me. Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of Criminal Minds (as in all of them), but I had a mental image of some guy snapping his fingers in half while she screamed. This ruined the song for me because…gross.

We were all in the truck one day when the song played and I mentioned I thought the lyrics were particularly gruesome. This surprised my family as I’m usually the defender of country music lyrics and the College Kid most definitely is not. If I should happen to complain about the lyrics of the songs they listen to, he’ll start listing off the instances in country music of guys rolling down back roads in jacked-up trucks with ice cold beers in the center console.

“Sure, Mom. Drunk driving is so much more wholesome than fighting demons.”

Since I’m zero-tolerance when it comes to driving while intoxicated, the debate comes to an abrupt end.

But in this case, I couldn’t wrap my mind around a guy breaking his bones to hear his romantic interest scream and said so. When they were finished laughing at me, I was informed the lyrics are:

“I’d sell my soul just to see your face.
And I’d break my bones just to heal your pain.
In these times I need a saving grace, but time is running out and I’m starting to lose my faith.”

That makes so much more sense to me. And it’s a lot more romantic than the whole Criminal Minds vibe I thought they had going on.

What’s your favorite “wrong” lyric?

11 comments to “When good lyrics go bad”

  1. Amy R
      · April 10th, 2014 at 10:52 am · Link

    I can so relate to this, Shannon. I am always signing the wrong lyrics to songs only for my family to look at me weird or laugh at me. When they correct me I am usually relieved because they don’t make sense. So, whenever I hear a new song I really like, I quickly look up the lyrics so I can sing them correctly and the wrong ones don’t get stuck in my head. :)

  2. Michele Summers
      · April 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm · Link

    I’ve got some good ones:
    My eyes of Georgia…(real lyrics: My eyes adored you)
    My daughter used to sing to Steely Dan when she was little and would ask for the alphabet song, Reelin in the Years. She sang: Are you reelin in the E’s(years); Stowin away the I’s(time); Gatherin up the T’s(tears); Have you had enough of I’s (mine). We would die laughing because she sang with such conviction!

  3. Julie
      · April 10th, 2014 at 12:08 pm · Link

    In college there was a gal who would belt out “Hit Me With Affection” to Pat Benetar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot… and sang it louder after we pointed out what the lyrics really were. :)

  4. Leah Braemel
      · April 10th, 2014 at 2:21 pm · Link

    My favorite is my hubby’s version of Shania Twain’s That Don’t Impress Me Much. The line is supposed to be “I can’t believe you kiss your car good night” which he swears is “I can’t believe you kiss your carpet knife”. Now I can’t unhear his version, LOL.

  5. MJ
      · April 10th, 2014 at 7:32 pm · Link

    When I was a kid and Saturday Night Fever came out, my mother SWORE the song was not “More Than a Woman,” but “Bald-Headed Woman.” I hear “bald-headed woman” every time now.

  6. nightsmusic
      · April 10th, 2014 at 9:21 pm · Link

    There’s a bathroom on the right

    (There’s a bad moon on the rise = Bad Moon Rising CCR)

    Harry do the dishes

    (Very superstitious = Superstition Stevie Wonder)

    Count the head lice on the highway

    (Count the headlights on the highway = Tiny Dancer Elton John)

    Have lots more. It’s funny how misheard some things are.

  7. Lynda the Guppy
      · April 10th, 2014 at 11:44 pm · Link

    Ohhh. I have so many. In fact, somewhere I have a copy of “Scuse me while I kiss this guy” which is all misheard lyrics. Mom gave me the book for a birthday or Christmas or something, and she wrote all the lyrics we had butchered through the years.

    Here are two highlights I can never hear without laughing.

    Swing low, sweet carrot
    Coming forth to carry me home.

    From Miss Saigon:
    The birds awake
    The stars shine, too.
    My hand still shakes
    I reek of reach for you.

  8. Tracy S
      · April 12th, 2014 at 12:33 am · Link

    These are great! I’m not thinking of any off the top of my head, but I loved reading all of yours!

  9. Jean
      · April 14th, 2014 at 1:37 am · Link

    Bad Company, It’s All Right Now

    Let’s move before they raise the parking rate

    Heard as:
    (language pass required)
    let’s move before they raise the f@$&ing rent

  10. Shannon
      · April 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm · Link

    OMG, these are awesome!

    And now I’ll hear all of these wrong, too, LOL!

  11. SK
      · April 20th, 2014 at 8:16 pm · Link

    I have a friend who used to sing “I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot him in the knee.” Now I can’t hear that song any other way!

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