I recall that Dave Barry filled a book with misheard lyrics; two of the most common are
Jimi Hendrix supposedly singing, " 'Scuze me, while I kiss this guy" in "Purple Haze" or
Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising," where John Fogerty sounds a bit like he's singing, "There's a bathroom on the right." (Fogerty would actually quote the
"bathroom" line in 1990s performances.)
My latest pleasant (and then not pleasant) discovery was when I borrowed the box set
To Try for the Sun: The Journey of Donovan (2005 compilation, Sony). I never liked Donovan that much, although back in the day, I did buy a couple of singles and albums. Now that I realize that a lot of his music is based on ancient themes and even children's stories, I'm a lot more appreciative. There's a great demo of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Co'dine" on the box, almost as tough as her version (I'm not a fan of the souped-up, psychedelic takes on the song).
In grade school, we were taught "Guantanamera" in Spanish class. One kid who had the lyrics down was flustered that others did not and suggested, "Aw, just sing 'one ton tomato'."
Anyway, I'm listening to "Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)," recorded with the Jeff Beck Group and a fairly hard driving song, and I realized that I missed a pretty significant lyric. I thought, for forty years now, that Donovan was singing, "Love is hot/truth is small talk." But what he's doing is so obvious that now I feel silly--it's
"Love is hot/truth is mol-ten." How did that elude me?
I think this miscue had to do with my inability as a teenager to put lyrics in context. Perhaps I didn't know the word "molten" when I was fourteen, but I'd like to think that my vocabulary was at least average at the time. The problem is more like the inability to figure out what the vocalist is talking about, and filling in the missing pieces. I really blew that one.
Maybe it's also because, in 1969, I hadn't experienced anything even approaching hot or molten outside of the spin the bottle game at teen parties. Isn't that more of a puppy