Oh lord please don’t let me be misunderstood.

It’s easy to misunderstand lyrics (As Whoopi Goldberg says in frustration in the film Jumping Jack Flash – “SING ENGLISH, MICK”*). Singers howl, mumble and garble.
Mondegreens, eh.

But what about misunderstanding a whole song? Leaving aside cynical marketing ploys like taking the first bars of “Fortunate Son” – “Some people born to wave the flag, yeah they’re red white and blue” and turning it into jingoistic nationalistic trip, there are two songs that stand out for me.

The first is “Come Up and See Me”.
Because of, I don’t know, the chorus, or the delivery, this excoriating demolition of a selfish prick “” has become a ‘oh, do come visit, you’re such a sweetie” number.

The main event has to be, of course, “Born in the USA”. It’s a song of alienation, despair, of the working man getting shat on from a great height from all angles – work (“hiring man said son, if it was up to me”) – family – (“I had a brother, at Khe Sanh, fighting off them Viet Cong. They’re still there, he’s all gone”) and the future (“I’m ten years down the road, nowhere to run, ain’t got nowhere to go.”) And, well…

Fracking numbskulls.

Other examples?

* Though of course if he had there’d never have been the brilliant scene in “The Wire” where Pryzbylewski explains the opening lyrics.


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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One Response to Oh lord please don’t let me be misunderstood.

  1. Phil K says:

    it’s not so much a misunderstanding as an award for sheer incongruity – the use of the Bard of Salford – John Cooper Clark’s expletive laden Chickentown to end an episode of the Sopranos…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2DShC4GhVc

    Or of course there’s demolition by association – such as Hi Ho Silver Lining being used as the ‘queue music’ when you call Orange

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